Southern Gays, Here to Stay
A handy graph demonstrating the regional disparities
President Obama's personal endorsement of same-sex marriage has no immediate effect on anti-gay legislation already in place across the country, and his declaration that it's a state-by-state issue is problematic when bigotry and gayness ignore political boundaries.
A region known for its hospitality has gone out of its way to make gays feel unwelcome.
Every time the southern contingent receives bad news, gays in other regions inevitably ask: Why do you stay in a state, or even an entire region, that denies your civil rights?
Why not pose this question to the lesbian minister who grew up on a Kentucky farm and moved to Atlanta to be near family? Or the fabulous queer caring for aging parents in small-town Tennessee?
I'm a Georgia peach, through and through, and I love living in the gay mecca of the South. The fabulous queers I meet in Atlanta are proud of their southern drawls and hoop skirts. We find hope each year in the growing number of churches marching in the Pride Parade and the allies emerging from the most unlikely places.
But even more importantly, Bible Belt gays see beyond the bigotry on the news. It's hard to admit, but we know the people who voted for Amendment One probably meant well, bless their hearts. But how can they know what's best when they haven't even seen all the possibilities?
Southern gays stay to prove that coming out and thriving is an option. We stay to create families in the places we love, and we stay in hopes that our neighbors will see the family values they espouse flourishing in our lives.
The wait may be painful and expensive, but when true equality finally comes, you'll find us awaiting the news on front porches, surrounded by friends and family, and sipping sweet tea with the ones we love.
So as we reel from the latest setback in North Carolina and prepare for the long road ahead, I want to know:
Why do you love the South, and what makes you stay?