Voices: Nakita Noël, MSW, LCSW

I attended the Holly Springs town council meeting. It was really hard to sit and listen to hate and bigotry that was poorly disguised as “religious freedom” from more people than I care to remember. I looked at every person speaking and willed them to make eye contact with me- to see the pain they were inflicting as they dismissed my humanity and reduced my desire for safety and non-discrimination as mere “politics.” None of them looked my way when they left the podium.

I stayed until the end of the meeting. I thanked Aaron Wolff for his advocacy. I shared with him how grateful this black, queer, cisgender woman, social-working mom of 3 is to have his voice on the council. I also spoke with Kristi Bennett. I forced her to look at me, to hear me. I calmly challenged her assertion that the NDO shouldn’t be passed because of “gaps” that don’t “address the religious freedom piece.” I asked her to consider if the religion were one she didn’t practice- like Islam or Judaism- would she feel the same? I also reminded her that the freedom to believe and practice a faith should never equate to the freedom to discriminate or oppress. A person’s beliefs should not trample on the rights of others. She then told me that she never imagined having to have this discussion because ”it’s local government, we shouldn’t even be deciding like this.” I firmly told her that while she may not have imagined it- and may not want to make decisions about it- she made the choice to run for and participate in our town’s government: it’s her responsibility. So I asked her to remember that she has a duty to ALL of the town, and that I (and my family) are a part of it.

I was too nervous to speak at the podium tonight, but next time the opportunity is afforded to me, I will rise above my fear. Until then, I will put this message out for anyone to read:

My name is Nakita. I’m 33 years old. I’m black, I’m a lesbian, I’m an oncology social worker, I’m a mom of 3 little kids. I have an agenda. My agenda is to live in peace. To move about my community, country and world free from threat or harm. To go to work every day and use my degree, experience and passion to serve others. To raise my kids to be thoughtful, compassionate, emotionally-intelligent people. To have my kids learn that families come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and make-ups so that they won’t be puzzled or made to feel that something is “wrong” with theirs. To hold hands with my girlfriend and not worry that we’ll be thrown out of a store with a single glance. To go to my community pool and not have people assume I snuck in. I have other agenda items too. To eat chocolate every day. To train for another marathon. To go back and finally finish watching the last season of New Girl on Netflix. To actually make myself get in bed by 9:30 PM. None of these agenda items harms anyone else. They don’t oppress, indoctrinate or otherwise negatively impact the lives of others. So if you’re someone who worries about this so-called “ LGBTQ+ agenda,” please just ask some us LGBTQ+ folks. The agenda likely isn’t what you think. We’re just people, who want to be treated as such.