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North Dakota council member comes out as a lesbian during heated pride flag debate

"We're here, we're queer, and we're not going away," Minot City Council member Carrie Evan said during a public meeting where residents made homophobic remarks.

A lesbian elected official in North Dakota delivered an impassioned speech in defense of her municipality's decision to fly a rainbow flag outside City Hall. Her heated remarks followed several bigoted comments from townspeople angered over the LGBTQ pride symbol's public display.

"I am proudly the first openly elected lesbian in North Dakota, so that is why I'm not paying any heed to your crap," Evans said Sept. 8 at a City Council meeting in Minot, which went viral after it was posted online. "I live in Minot. I am a taxpayer. I am a person. I get to see myself represented on that flagpole.

"This city is big enough for all of us. Me having a flag flying doesn't take away anything from your rights and freedoms," Evans continued. "I'm sorry it doesn't make you feel comfortable, but we're here, we're queer, and we're not going away."

The flag — which was approved by the mayor after a local LGBTQ group, Magic City Equality, asked for it be flown — was intended to debut during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, but it was delayed until Sept. 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to local news reports. The controversy surrounding the flag resulted in extra security at last week's council meeting, according to NBC affiliate KFYR.

A video of the full council meeting that was shared on the city's YouTube page shows several residents making homophobic and bigoted remarks.

One man claimed that the "LGBT flag represents the genitals of certain Americans," while another said he'd be "embarrassed" to explain the flag's meaning to children. Another resident said flying the flag could lead to pedophiles' being "glorified," while a woman said it's the kind of thing that leads to "looting, riots and destruction." Another woman said it was "a dishonest move" for Evans, who was elected this year, not to have explicitly made it known that she was a lesbian during her campaign.

Evans, who grew up in Minot, told KXMB-TV in June that she left the city three decades ago because she didn't feel welcome because of her sexual orientation. She said she returned in 2017 and finds Minot, a town of less than 50,000 people, to be much more accepting now.

After she was elected, Evans said she planned to advocate for a municipal ordinance forbidding LGBTQ discrimination in public accommodations. She also said she wanted to make the city more accessible for people with disabilities, as she herself has multiple sclerosis.

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