Cody Barlow, who identifies as straight, decorated the back of his truck with strips of duct tape in rainbow colors, along with a message that read, “Not all country boys are bigots. Happy Pride Month.” He posted a photograph of the newly bedazzled tailgate to his Facebook page last week, along with a lengthy message explaining the significance of his effort.
“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,” the 28-year-old 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.”
Acknowledging that “this is not a very welcome message” in the “rural area” of his state where he resides, he continued, “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.”
As of Monday afternoon, Barlow’s post had received more than 127,000 likes, and had been shared more than 75,000 times. Though many of the users identified themselves as being fellow Oklahoma residents, others said they were from as far away as Australia.
“What you did was courageous and most importantly, loving,” one person wrote. “May life reward you with an abundance of love and goodness.”
Added another: “You should be president one day. Love and acceptance of others is what we need in this country.”
The response on Twitter was similarly encouraging.
In an interview with CNN published Monday, Barlow said he didn’t expect that his message would have global impact.
“When I was younger, it seemed like everyone was the same. This is an area where everyone goes to church and nobody strays from the path,” he said. “I was trying to reach anyone it would help.”
“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,” he added. “Even if it helps one person, it’s worth it.”