Cody Barlow, the self-described “country boy” with the rainbow pride pickup truck, joined the Oklahoma City Pride parade on June 22 and was greeted like a superstar, with cheers, tears, and lots of hugs from spectators throughout the event.
Barlow, a Navy veteran, lives in Wagoner, Okla., a small rural town in central Oklahoma. He was invited to participate in the parade by the staff of The Gayly, a newspaper in Oklahoma City.
Barlow turned his pickup truck (and himself) into a viral internet sensation when he posted a photo on Facebook that showed the truck’s tailgate, which he decorated with rainbow colors and the message “Not all country boys are bigots. Happy pride month.”
Barlow created the rainbow effect with different colors of duct tape.
On his post, he wrote:
“I live in a rural area in Oklahoma, surrounded by small towns in every direction, and I’m 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…
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.
I hope everyone finds their inner strength to finally live life loud and proud without regard for the negativity of ignorant people.
Happy pride month!”
The event in Oklahoma City was the second pride parade that Barlow joined with his truck. The week prior, Barlow drove in the Northwest Arkansas Pride parade in Fayetteville, Ark., and he commented on his Facebook page that the Fayetteville event was the first time he had attended a pride festival. Barlow thanked those in attendance for being very friendly, and said, “I would love to shake your hand or give you a hug and talk to you. Your stories mean a lot to me…I want to come support all of you. Don’t be hesitant to approach me, I’m just an average guy.”
Thousands of comments and photos have hit social media, some saying they were moved to tears when they met him, others praising Barlow and his truck with messages like “Had the pleasure of meeting this lovely gentleman today” and hashtags like “#gottoseeitinperson”.
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Had the pleasure of meeting this lovely gentleman today. @okcpridefest is the second #pride we have been to featuring this incredible human. Meet Cody, a country boy from #oklahoma who made national news for his reaction to a friend coming out – a friend who was afraid he would lose Cody’s friendship because many in their small town are anti-gay. We have both been in that friend’s shoes. Both of us grew up in small towns – towns where we stayed in the closet, but were still made fun of and called “GAY!” in a derogatory way. Cody is doing this, not to say that most “country boys” are bigots, but because he never wants another person to worry about coming out. He wants them to know that while some country people may be closed minded, not all of them are. Thank you Cody for being the person to youth today, who we needed a decade ago in our towns. ❤️
Related: Here’s how to plan the most awesome WorldPride adventure