Why we need our own things
Simon Williamson lives with his husband in heteronormatively-assimilative fashion in Athens, after a year of surviving rural Georgia.
With all the disdain expended on the idea of safe spaces on campuses and universities, a lot of reasoning has been lost regarding the absolute luxury of a space wherein we don’t have to defend ourselves, like we are expected to all the time. We are often expected to explain why our sexual laxness is antithetical to someone else’s preconceived ideas, and even when people profess to be on our team, facing questioning of the things we deem perfectly normal is still tiring.
Which is why it is indelibly important to have “safe spaces” of our own, like these very pages. We are incredibly lucky to live at a time when enough of us can group together, forming our own bloc in greater society to have and support our own bars and newspapers and centers and gyms and clubs and charities and Olympics.
The value of being allowed to exist within our own community, via these different avenues, is incalculable. Being openly gay, trans or bi, or even a cisgender female, to be honest, is difficult enough when we have to navigate workplaces and grocery stores and sporting and concert events, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to live in a place like Atlanta, where homophobia is less common than it is pretty much everywhere else in Georgia. Having spent a year living in rural Newton County, I can absolutely profess to you that the paranoia brought on by being gay in unfriendly territory is more tangible than late-night sauna cock.
The most well-meaning non-LGBT people in the world can’t empathize to a perfect degree, and it is unfair to expect them to. It is simply impossible, in the same manner it is for a man to empathize with women’s issues, or a white person to empathize with being on the receiving end of institutional racism. And it is why we hang around with each other: it’s awesome to talk about our own things, from deep shit to pure banalities, with people who get it like we do.
From workplace health plans that don’t adequately address HIV and partner benefits, to rights that we need that go far beyond marriage, to family troubles, to the complications of gay relationships, all the way to who has the hottest Congress member (the people of Arizona do, thanks to junior senator Jeff Flake, by the way)— it is great to just have our own stuff, where we can let it all hang out, literally or figuratively, and not have to defend why naked people march in our pride parades, or explain which of us is the woman, or spell out the hypocritical accusation that we “flaunt our sexuality” while the accusers act all butch for no reason other than to avoid being accused of a single non-Rambo trait.
It is why I feel so fortunate to be able to write on these pages every two weeks. It is good to have our own newspaper, and it is good to be able to discuss our own issues and debate the crosswalks in our own community.
Of course, we’re fallible, and our own issues often exclude people we profess to be in our community. And I will continue to cantankerously whine about that in columns in the future.
But for the moment I just want to celebrate this wonderful paper, and the year I have spent writing for it. Reading the Georgia Voice is a pleasure; writing for it is an absolute privilege.
We need our own stuff, and our own stuff is good. Support it!
“Having spent a year living in rural Newton County, I can absolutely profess to you that the paranoia of being gay in unfriendly territory is more tangible than late-night sauna cock.”