The daily lives of queer peo­ple

Si­mon Wil­liamson lives with his hus­band in het­eronor­ma­tively-as­sim­ila­tive fash­ion in Athens, af­ter a year of sur­viv­ing ru­ral Ge­or­gia.

GA Voice - - Out in the Wild - By Si­mon Wil­liamson

I am from a pretty vi­o­lent coun­try. South Africa is a bit New Or­leans-ish, in that crime is ter­ri­ble in cer­tain places, and the mid­dle classes who live in much safer ar­eas than the mean think that the prob­lem is dis­pro­por­tion­ately theirs to bear.

If you’re LGBTQIA+, that sort of para­noia might sound some­what fa­mil­iar. While our safety might not al­ways be at risk, we do need to be con­stantly aware of the re­ac­tions our mere pres­ence might pro­voke; that the way we live our lives is some­thing many other peo­ple feel the need to re­act to.

With a mass shoot­ing hap­pen­ing al­most as of­ten as racial ep­i­thets are shat through Don­ald Trump’s voice box, and an ab­sence of leg­isla­tive will to change any laws in any fash­ion, greater so­ci­ety is be­com­ing more para­noid. The me­dia in the United States is a ma­lig­nant pusher of news in one’s daily life, and I, along with many oth­ers, am ad­mit­tedly be­gin­ning to feel a lit­tle para­noid when in pub­lic places. The San Bernardino shoot­ing wasn’t even the first mass shoot­ing in the United States that day, but the ear­lier one only made lo­cal news be­cause not enough peo­ple had bul­lets put into them.

Sadly, there aren’t really any places you can go to es­cape the dan­gers of guns in the United States. Even in places where the rules are strict, like New York and Chicago, it is easy to hop over a state border and, pro­vided you pass a back­ground check (it is a real thing), come back to your own state with a weapon. In­di­ana hap­pens to be on the doorstep of Chicago. Penn­syl­va­nia is on the doorsteps of both New Jer­sey and New York. And, of course, there is a black mar­ket for weapons. If you want a weapon, procur­ing one legally or il­le­gally is eas­ier than scor­ing with in­se­cure twinks af­ter 1 a.m.

Be­cause the Sec­ond Amend­ment is a real thing, you aren’t ever go­ing to get rid of peo­ple’s guns. So the other ar­gu­ment prof­fered is that ev­ery­one should have a gun for his or her own pro­tec­tion. So let’s say, for ex­am­ple, that car­ry­ing a gun be­comes as com­mon as stu­dent loan debt—can you imag­ine the con­se­quences of wider so­ci­ety car­ry­ing guns all the time, com­bined with all the drunk­en­ness and road rage re­quired for liv­ing a nor­mal At­lanta life?

A so­ci­ety in which ev­ery per­son car­ries a gun would be abound­ing with para­noia. Can you even con­sider what it would be like be­ing on edge all the time about the “For ev­ery gay per­son who puts a pic­ture of their spouse or part­ner up at work, a de­ci­sion has to be made about the po­ten­tial con­se­quences of do­ing so, which can range from an­noy­ing ques­tions to out­right hos­til­ity.” num­ber of guns around you?

Well, that’s a lot like be­ing a mem­ber of the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­nity. While, of course, the com­par­i­son falls short when it comes to the dead­li­ness of guns and Amer­ica’s love for them, feel­ing con­stantly wor­ried about your sur­round­ings is a very nor­mal thing for our peo­ple to feel. For ev­ery gay per­son who puts a pic­ture of their spouse or part­ner up at work, a de­ci­sion has to be made about the po­ten­tial con­se­quences of do­ing so, which can range from an­noy­ing ques­tions to out­right hos­til­ity.

Be­ing gay in a straight en­vi­ron­ment—or, Bey­oncé for­bid, a trans­gen­der per­son in a cis­gen­der en­vi­ron­ment—can be in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous.

The grow­ing, gnaw­ing fear that peo­ple have about gun violence is the sort of alert those in the LGBTQIA+ fam­ily are on all the time.

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