Monday, May 20, 2013

The South's Longer Wait for Equality

At time I get annoyed with LGBT bloggers in liberal states who seem incapable of understanding what it is like for gays who live in reactionary states such as Virginia where the Republican Party of Virginia has just nominated the most insane and extreme slate of statewide candidates in state history.  These bloggers living securing in liberal states forget that in 29 states LGBT individuals can be fired at will and have ZERO legal protections.  Yes, in theory we gays in these backward states are free to pick up and move.  But in reality it is not so easy given family commitments and other considerations.  And overall, nowhere is the anti-gay mindset stronger in America than in the South where homophobia seems to have replaced racism as the last socially acceptable prejudice (although scratch the back of most homophobes and one will find a racists as well or a minority member being duped by black pastors into carrying water for former white supremacists).   A piece in The Advocate looks at this sad state of affairs.  Here are excerpts:
As much of the country breathlessly followed the coverage of the Supreme Court’s two marriage equality cases in March, Will Batts was busy fighting battles on numerous fronts. The executive director of Tennessee’s Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center operates in a setting only 900 miles (but still a world away) from Washington, D.C., in a state with a Republican-controlled legislature and GOP governor, and where several anti-LGBT bills have been proposed.

“Legislators seem bent on making us invisible in every way possible and preventing any state-level recognition of our relationships,” Batts says. “Life is not easy for LGBT people in the South, especially our youth and transgender brothers and sisters. The needs are great and the resources very limited.”

[M]arriage equality doesn’t necessarily feel inevitable in the South, and the ability to wed the person you love is just one of many rights LGBT folks in the South are denied. Save for Kentucky, which only protects gay and transgender people who are employed by the state, D.C., and Maryland, workers can be fired for being LGBT in every state south of the Mason-Dixon line. Even though the 2010 Census found that same-sex couples in Southern states are more likely to be raising children than their northeastern and West Coast counterparts, they have almost zero defenses against housing discrimination unless they live in big cities like Atlanta or New Orleans.

The battles against LGBT people continue to be waged quietly in the South. Alabama’s current school curriculum requires teachers to instruct students that homosexuality is an “unacceptable, criminal lifestyle,” . . . .

The bottom line is that it is hard at times living in the South and the bigotry one faces from judges, the state itself, and the "godly folk," is a slow corrosive poison.  At times one wants to simply slip into despair.   Believe me, if I could I would leave Virginia in a heartbeat.

1 comment:

RichardR said...

Michael, you frequently write that you'd leave Virginia if it were feasible because of its backwardness, especially as regards this awful, religious-based prejudice. I've long wanted to assert that you are a key player
in changing this ugly reality. As frustrating as this official, legislative homophobia is, my experience, having returned here for my retirement years, is that Virginians are a lot nicer than Virginia. One of my personal goals is to help reverse the Commonwealth's notorious homophobia. Please keep beating your particular drum - it is so very valuable.