- A self-described “average straight white guy from Oklahoma” is going viral on Facebook for the Pride Month-themed decorations on his truck.
- Cody Barlow decorated his truck with a rainbow flag made of duct tape and a message reading, “Not all country boys are bigots.”
- “A big reason for this message on the back of my truck is to hopefully reach out to those kids that are feeling hopeless […] and maybe kind of instill a little bit of hope,” Barlow told INSIDER.
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June is typically recognised as Pride Month, and one man in Oklahoma is going viral for showing his support for the LGBTQ+ community in a creative way.
Cody Barlow, a 28-year-old college student from Hulbert, Oklahoma, decked out his truck in a rainbow flag made out of duct tape and a message reading, “Not all country boys are bigots. Happy Pride Month.”
He shared a photo of his truck to Facebook on June 6, with a message explaining his intent behind the decorations.
“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 judgment simply for who they are, and/or who they love, for far too long,” Barlow wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”
Barlow goes on to write, “I don’t think it is necessary to say, but for all intents and purposes I am a straight man that grew up here in Oklahoma.”
Barlow’s photo has been shared over 80,000 times and has received over 144,000 likes at the time of this post, which is a level of attention he told INSIDER he never expected.
“I didn’t think it was going to leave Oklahoma,” he told us. “But I’m glad that it did because of the responses I’m receiving and people telling me some really heartfelt stories […] it’s turned out to be a very positive thing for a lot of people.”
Barlow said he wanted to use his “advantageous position” as “an average straight white guy from Oklahoma” to shine a light on a topic that isn’t discussed much in his rural town.
“I don’t get beat up or threatened or called names for being who I am,” he said. “So I figured maybe in my position, the people around here would be a little bit more receptive to listening to what I’ve got to say or reading the message.”
Though he’s received tons of support and messages of gratitude, he’s also seen negative comments on his post. Barlow says the negative feedback does not bother him personally, though he does find it concerning that those comments could be seen by young kids struggling with their identity.
“A big reason for this message on the back of my truck is to hopefully reach out to those kids that are feeling hopeless and feel like they have nowhere to turn and maybe kind of instill a little bit of hope,” he told us. “I know it’s unfortunate to feel like your hometown and your own family and friends don’t accept you and that’s really hurtful. I’ll never fully understand what that’s like, so I’m trying to help out as much as I can.”
Fortunately for Barlow, most of the negative reactions have been online and not in person.
“In person, I’ll get some dirty looks, but people don’t ever really say anything,” Barlow told us. “I’ve had some positive reactions. People will pass me and give me a thumbs up as they’re going by and they will tell me they appreciate it or they saw me online.”
Barlow said that growing up in such a small town meant that he experienced some closed-minded attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community when he was younger, but he’s since realised the importance of standing up for your beliefs.
“As I grew older, I started being exposed to more diversity and more culture […] and learned that more of my family and friends and coworkers were members of the community and I talked to them about what it’s like,” he said. “I think that opened my mind up a lot and helped start to build up the courage to turn away from those other negative people.”
Barlow says the overwhelming response has made him think about other ways he can use his newfound platform to raise awareness.
“The feeling of needing to participate and be more active in the community and talking to people and help educating is increasing,” Barlow said. “This movement needs a lot more attention in places like this where it’s not very common.”
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