'Not all country boys are bigots': Photo of duct tape Pride flag on truck goes viral
LGBTQ rights have come a long way in the U.S. But the community still faces threats in the form of legalization, discrimination and even violence. USA TODAY
Cody Barlow missed the Pride parade in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but he didn't miss the chance to show his support as an LGBTQ ally.
"Not all country boys are bigots ... Happy Pride Month" reads the back of Barlow's truck. Barlow decorated the truck with duct tape in the design of the Pride flag and used mailbox letters to spell out his message.
"It wasn't anything in particular about this year or this Pride month," Barlow told USA TODAY on Tuesday. "A lot of things had come together over the years, it was a factor of me learning about the community from when I was younger until now."
Barlow wrote that he identifies as a heterosexual male and he has had family members and friends open up to him about their sexuality and their experiences. However, those interactions aren't all that inspired him to make a statement.
After hearing about the Pulse nightclub shooting, noticing negativity in the media and hearing about violence against the LGBTQ community, he wanted to send a positive message.
"I wanted to reach the people that need this, who are struggling or hopeless and give them a little hope and reason to keep going," he said. "Especially younger ones going through middle and high school. I think they deal with it the most being on a level where superficial things seem to matter more, while you're figuring out place in life."
In his post, he wrote that he wants to drown hatred out with love.
"I live in a rural area in Oklahoma," wrote Barlow, "surrounded by small towns in every direction, and I'm sure this is not a very welcome message around here, but this is going to be displayed on my truck for the entire month of June in support of pride month."
And while he hasn't received a huge response in person apart from the occasional honk, thumbs up or cell phone picture that he sees being taken through the rear view mirror, the online response has been overwhelmingly positive.
While he has received some negative messages, Barlow has been getting tens of thousands of likes and shares on social media.
"Now that it's taken off, people are reaching out from all around the world," said Barlow. "I've had responses from people in Australia, South Africa, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, pretty much every state in the US, all over the place."
Follow Morgan Hines on Twitter: @MorganEmHines.