Brockman was at a restaurant with Rep. Chris Sgro (D) and Sgro’s partner, Ryan Butler, both of whom were wearing buttons opposing North Carolina’s anti-LGBT HB2 law. (Read the latest on HB 2 here.)
“This drunk, straight white guy came up and asked if we were gay,” Brockman said. After Sgro said that they were, the man “launched into a homophobic and obscene tirade,” according to the News & Record, to the extent that the restaurant’s management asked him to leave.
It was a turning point in Brockman’s decision to come out of the closet — particularly after Sgro’s term ends at the end of this year, which would have left North Carolina’s General Assembly without any openly LGBT lawmakers.
“I always felt that I tried to stick up for the LGBT community, even when I wasn’t ‘out,’ ” Brockman said. “I want to do more of my part, to be stronger and admit to the world that I’m actually a member of this community as well.”
Brockman was also stoked by the fallout from HB 2, which has legitimized anti-LGBT discrimination in the state. At the time it was passed by lawmakers, Brockman recalled finding it “incredibly frustrating to hear people who have very ignorant opinions” debating the bill, particularly given that “very few of those people know a member of the LGBT community.”
“Discriminating against folks in the LGBT community has become legal,” Brockman added. “You should be able to be who you are and love who you are and not be afraid to go out and feel like someone will harass you.”
Brockman hopes his coming out will prove “a cathartic release for me, because it’s something I’ve struggled with tremendously.” But, while he wants to give his colleagues in Raleigh pause before trying to infringe further on LGBT rights, Brockman also doesn’t want his sexuality to define him in his career.
“I hope my work will speak for itself,” Brockman said. “I don’t want to be judged on my sexuality, but for the work I’ve done for my community.”
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