This profile is part of Queerty’s 2020 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year.
Name: Carrie Evans, 50
Bio: After stints with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (now The Task Force), the Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Maryland, Evans moved home to Minot, North Dakota, to figure out her next step.
Delighted that the “new Minot” was a more diverse and welcoming place than it was when she left the city at age 19, Evans ran for a seat on the Minot City Council and won, becoming the first openly lesbian elected official in North Dakota. She became a hero to folks around the world when she stood up for LGBTQ+ equality at a September 2020 city council meeting.
Coming Out: Though she was out at the time, Evans asserted her sexuality for all to hear in that fateful meeting, which she later described as a “coming home” moment in an interview with them.
“Mr. Walker, if you’re not aware, and I think a lot of people in this room are not aware and have come here just because this is a gay issue, I am proudly the first openly elected lesbian in North Dakota,” she said, telling off a constituent who complained about the pride flag flying in front of City Hall. “So that is why I am not paying any heed to your crap!”
Evans explained that the phrase “We the people” includes her. “I’m the people,” she said. “I live in Minot. I am a taxpayer. I am a person. I get to see myself represented on that flagpole just as much as the people who got the Juneteenth flag last month, as much as the POW/MIAs will get later this month.”
She went on: “Every single person is entitled to see themselves represented. We are not some group of people who live in San Francisco or Seattle. We are here. We are your elected officials. We are your brothers. We are your sisters. And don’t tell me you’re not [feeling] hatred or anger. That’s all I feel. I’ve had to listen to it for days now, as has the mayor and many of my colleagues. It is unacceptable!”
Making a Difference: On her official website, Evans wrote that the meeting was a painful experience but a “necessary rupture” for Minot, and she’s sure that the city will be a better place for it — especially because she has received hundreds of supportive messages not just locally but from around the world.
“Some of these messages are filled with sadness and despair and the loss of hope in our city,” she wrote. “Some are from young queer Minoters who are scared and cannot wait to leave this city, some are from queers who did leave and have nothing but horrible memories and the meeting enforced these memories. So for them, I have decided to share some of the beautiful, loving, and kind messages I have received so that they can see and believe that #LoveAlwaysWins.”
So far, she has 27 pages of messages on the site.
Words of Wisdom:
This city is big enough for all of us. Me having a flag flying does not take away anything from your rights. But you know what it does for me? It shows me I live in a city that appreciates and embraces me and the people of my community and that I can live here and feel safe. That’s what it does. I’m sorry that it doesn’t make you feel comfortable, but we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away!
– Carrie Evans, to Mr. Walker