The road to re­cov­ery

Kim Rig­gins lives in Smyrna with her two in­cred­i­bly spoiled dogs and an un­healthy ob­ses­sion with Star Wars.

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.