The road to recovery
Kim Riggins lives in Smyrna with her two incredibly spoiled dogs and an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars.
It is difficult to explain to people why I live in the South. There are so many other places that are more LGBT-friendly. There are so many other places that have four distinct seasons as opposed to summer, summer, Satan’s sauna and sort of winter. There are places where the people are less backward, more progressive and more intelligent. The list goes on and on. I cannot say that I completely disagree, although I have met many exceptions to these denunciations. But at the end of the day, the South is my home and I’ve come a long way from feeling the need to hide who I am. That really says something.
The late Joan Rivers once said, “I wish I could tell you that it gets better. It doesn’t get better. YOU get better.” She was talking about her work as a comedian, but those words are already timeless to me. They are relevant to my life in so many ways as a writer, as a woman and as a lesbian living in the South.
Things do not get better. Not on their own. The world does not generally sort itself out. People must aggressively seek change. We must doggedly pursue to correct wrongs and fight injustice. Those things do not just happen. In order for them to happen, we must change first. We must “get better.” Look how far we’ve come because people got better.
I used to be a self-righteous, judgmental bigot and then I got better only to find that I became a bitter, angry woman who blamed every church, pastor and Christian for the injus- tices faced by my community. Then I got better. There’s still a lot of anger there and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one who feels that way, but we are getting better. Every day we are learning that hate perpetuates hate. It spreads like infection from one person to the next and the only way to stop it is to heal the wound.
We have presidential candidates (well, a presidential candidate) who seem to invoke the spirit of spoiled, rich frat boys in order to climb up on the only platform they can find: insulting those who have a different skin tone or a different gender or a disability. Who chose as a running mate one of the more current poster boys for discrimination in our nation. The public reaction, as frightening as a Trump/ Pence White House would be, was ridicule. Even from the religious right I’ve seen a copious amount of eye-rolling and face-palming.
In short, I live here in Atlanta because this is my home. The South is my home and as Kevin Costner once said, “A free man defending his home is more powerful than ten hired soldiers.” I look around me and I see people who are not like me. They are different genders, different colors, from different socioeconomic backgrounds. They are Christians and atheists and Muslims. They are straight and bi and gay and transgender. They are business owners, janitors, servers and maintenance workers. We are all getting better. We are fighting together for our home.