Well, we wouldn’t exactly call this an upgrade…
A statue of Charles Aycock, the 50th governor of North Carolina who was a strong proponent of white supremacy at the turn of the 20th century, has been standing at the National Statuary Hall at the Capitol since 1932.
However, last month House Democrats proposed the removal of “racial intolerance” statues from Capitol in light of the Black Lives Matter protests and activists’s staunch efforts to erase systemic racism. Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to these demands by calling for the removal of Confederate statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection — which houses 35 of the 100 statues collected in D.C., two representing each state — and for them to be returned to their home states. The North Carolina legislative committee has now approved a replacement statue: that of homophobic preacher Billy Graham, one of the most famous Christian evangelists in history, having died in 2018 at the age of 99.
While his radical views continue to be highly respected in the Christian community, Graham made no qualms about his views on LGBTQ+ people. In 1974, he described homosexuality as an “ungodly spirit of self-gratification” while advising a young queer woman. “We traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare," he said.
Since Graham has apologized for soem of his comments, specifically statements he made where he said the AIDS epidemic could be a judgment from God.
"To say God has judged people with AIDS would be very wrong and very cruel. I would like to say that I am very sorry for what I said,” he said following his comments to nearly 44,000 people in Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, in 1993.
“Perhaps this incident is the best analogue for his impact on LGBTQ rights: This was a man who, advocates argue, may not have been extremely outspoken on LGBTQ people, but he left behind an institutional apparatus that has done structural damage to the community,” reporter John Paul Brammer wrote for NBC News in 2018 following Graham’s death. That apparatus is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association which is spearheaded by his son Franklin Graham.
On the organization's website, Franklin has stated there is “no place for compromise” on same-sex marriage. Furthermore, in posts that have since been deleted, there were bizarre claims that Satan is behind LGBTQ+ rights as well as praises of Russian leaders who he said “stood steadfastly against the rising homosexual agenda in their country,” according to NBC News.
Graham's statue will be done by Charlotte-based sculptor Chas Fagan, who also created former President Ronald Reagan’s likeness in the Capitol.