Not too long ago, someone asked me why I didn’t move away from Clarksville, TN and go to some place more “accepting” for gays — like California, New York, or someplace like that. After all, there’s still quite a bit of resistance in this area for someone who’s openly gay. I’ve had this question posed to me by both friends and members of my family.
In fact, I was told a few months ago that certain people in the community still tell others to not do business with me because I’m gay. Why would I continue to subject myself to such petty, blatant, rank discrimination (especially from people who were the object of similar discriminatory practices fifty years ago)? Simple: Because running from injustice and bigotry only encourages it.
I stay because HERE is where the message of equality is needed the most. I stay because this is my home. I stay because there’s too much to do. After all, what good is it to push for LGBT equality where it already exists?
I stay because I’m always looking for the best in people, and I look for a reason to push forward. It’s not easy, and the ground still must be tilled so that equality can truly grow. There are no gay-straight alliances in the schools. There is no PFLAG chapter (not for the lack of trying). There’s little LGBT community to speak of.
This is just the kind of place that a new article in The Advocate discusses, a place where LGBT activism is still in its infancy — and has the most need:
That’s why I was so intrigued when Liesel Reinhart, the writer/director of it gets better first talked to me about helping produce the show. Liesel is one of my most creative friends, so I expected innovative ideas. Right away, it was clear that her priority was to engage local communities. The show would tour around the country – not just to gay meccas, but to smaller cities and towns where the “It Gets Better” message is most needed. That’s why places like Iowa City and Lawrence, Kansas are on the itinerary.
Sadly, those who support me and/or equality, often do so in silence — with whispers. They’re the REAL reason I stay. Because no one hears the whispers. Someone’s got to do the shouting. Even still, it’d be nice to get a few extra voices backing me up.
It’s because of those whispers that I stay — because the whispers are muted by their own fears. With each new voice, we stand a little taller, a little louder, and a little more of a chorus. It’s here — in this medium-sized city of Clarksville with its population of 120,000, that I’m needed the most.
It’s here in Clarksville where people are most likely to believe vitriol spewed by people like Bryan Fischer, who declared recently that he is a “prophetic voice” against the “gay agenda,” as if he’s appointed by God to destroy the rights of LGBT Americans, and will work tirelessly to defeat us:
…Christians “cannot give an inch, we cannot give one centimeter, we cannot give one millimeter to the forces of homosexual activism. We cannot accommodate, we can’t compromise, we can’t find middle ground, they cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be compromised with, they cannot be dialogued with, they can only be defeated.
People like Fischer, Tony Perkins, and other anti-gay hate group leaders have a huge fan base in this area. What they say matters — and it’s critically important to counter their lies with reasoned truth. With every bit of vitriol that’s designed to pull our neighbors further away from equality, it’s essential that we temper their hate with genuine facts and and personal stories to remind our neighbors that we are real, honest, hopeful, and decent human beings that happen to love someone of the same sex.
After all, if we live life only so that we can have it easy, those rewards are incredibly shallow. When we rise above our struggles, and accomplish our goals — over greater opposition — then they are rewards not only worth celebrating, but shouting about!
Who’s with me?