A self-described “country boy” from Oklahoma has decorated his truck in a rainbow flag and a message of support for the LGBTQ community to celebrate Pride Month.
Cody Barlow, a 28-year-old from the rural town of Hulbert, Oklahoma, wrapped the tailgate of his truck in rainbow stripes and wrote, “Not all country boys are bigots. Happy Pride Month.”
Barlow posted a photo of his truck on Facebook along with a lengthy message explaining why the straight ally decided to support Pride so visibly.
He said it was in part because he had friends and family members who had been discriminated against or harassed because of their sexuality.
“This is important to me, not only because I have family and friends that are LGBTQ+, but also because countless people have dealt with hatred and judgement simply for who they are, and/or who they love, for far too long,” Barlow wrote. “Obviously doing this isn’t going to change the minds of those who are intolerant, but hopefully it can help drown out the hatred with love.”
He noted that in his rural Oklahoma town he was “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.”
Reiterating that he identifies as straight, Barlow, said it didn’t matter what backlash the rainbow display generated.
“It doesn’t matter what negativity I receive for supporting this. I hope that this can help even the slightest bit to encourage and support at least one person that needs it,” he wrote. “I hope everyone finds their inner strength to finally live life loud and proud without regard for the negativity of ignorant people.”
Speaking to CNN, Barlow said he decorated his 1991 Chevrolet Silverado using duct tape and mailbox letters.
The idea for the decorations came after he missed the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Tulsa, the nearest Pride event to his hometown.
He said he wasn’t prepared for the response his Facebook post received. The post has been liked 142,000 times, shared more than 80,000 times, and has thousands of comments.
“I was trying to reach anyone it would help,” Barlow told CNN. “People are sending me these stories, telling me what they’ve dealt with over the years, telling me they were tearing up and crying while reading this post. I didn’t realize what kind of impact this was going to have.”
He said that, while response has been mostly positive, he has received some backlash. But the response has only solidified his support for LGBTQ people.
“I realized that anything that comes my way doesn’t affect me on a personal level in the same way it affects the LGBTQ community,” he said. “This is the kind of stuff they have to deal with all the time.”
He added: “Even if it helps one person, it’s worth it.”