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Lucedale Walmart steps out for Pride Month on Facebook. Love and hate follow.

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Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker covered the murder of Alabama trans teenager Mercedes Williamson's by Josh Vallum. It helped lead to the first federal hate crime conviction in the killing of a transgender person.
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Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker covered the murder of Alabama trans teenager Mercedes Williamson's by Josh Vallum. It helped lead to the first federal hate crime conviction in the killing of a transgender person.

When the Lucedale Walmart celebrated National Pride Month with a Facebook post Monday, love and hate poured in.

The post included a group photo of what appeared to be employees with the caption, “We proudly support National Pride Month and the LGBTQ community! #PrideMonth2019.” Rainbow flag emojis completed the post.

Many shoppers congratulated the store for supporting the LGBTQ community: “Proud to be a part of this walmart family!! Support and love! It does not hurt anyone to support and love one another!” one commenter wrote.

But plenty of people shared disdain for the post and the Walmart store. Comments deemed hateful or negative appear to have been hidden or deleted. Twenty hours later, the post has been shared more than 170 times, with 489 comments.

Some of those who shared the post had LGBTQ debates raging on their own pages.

The store manager, Matthew Nagorka, took the Sun Herald’s call Tuesday morning, but did not want to talk about the post beyond saying: “It is the month of pride and we just decided to participate in it. We’re just proud to support our associates expressing themselves.”

Some commenters were personally touched by the store’s gesture. One young woman wrote: “Thank you all so much! ❤️ My family has always lived around Lucedale, one of the places I grew up. I was raised here, and being born transgender, I never felt welcome to my own heritage. It means a lot to see all your support. Thank you SOOO much.”

The inevitable debate also ensued over the Bible and where God stands on LGBTQ issues.

And then there were those who were surprised by the post (not in a good way) and said they would be boycotting the Lucedale Walmart. Other commentors told the boycotters they should also be prepared to give up their iPhones, Budweiser and Disney theme parks.

And those miffed with the Lucedale store but contemplating a trip to a Walmart down the road might have to consider the corporation’s public stance.

Maybe they haven’t noticed the retailer has an online Pride shop or that Walmart as a corportation supports inclusion and has been participating in Pride Month since at least 2013.

Walmart Pride co-chair Jason, no last name given, writes on the company’s career page:

“PRIDE stands for Promoting Respect, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and is an associate resource group for all associates (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allies) that aims to make Walmart the most diverse, inclusive company it can be. I think it’s working.”

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