When rain­bows have big­ots see­ing red

GA Voice - - Georgianews -


The idea was sim­ple. Run by the in­ter­sec­tion of 10th and Pied­mont to see how the rain­bow cross­walks were com­ing, do a Face­book Live show­ing Ge­or­gia Voice readers the progress so far and an­swer any ques­tions peo­ple had about it.

The in­stall started early that Satur­day morn­ing, so the work crew only had one side of the in­ter­sec­tion done and were mak­ing progress on the next one by the time I ar­rived. I no­ticed im­me­di­ately that there was a huge in­ter­est, with tons of peo­ple quickly join­ing in to view and share the live feed and ask ques­tions. Af­ter about a half-hour, I thanked ev­ery­one and ended it.

Then the tor­rent of neg­a­tive com­ments came.

One per­son af­ter the other call­ing the cross­walks “sick” or “dis­gust­ing,” talk­ing about how wrong it was to glo­rify what they con­sid­ered to be sin, and how we were all go­ing to Hell. And that was the key here: the flood of anti-LGBT abuse was all rooted in these peo­ple’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of scrip­ture. This was a re­li­gion thing.

I got back home and watched the com­ments pile up as I was about to get out of my car, at­tempt­ing to mod­er­ate it as best as pos­si­ble, but af­ter re­view­ing the en­tire thread and start­ing back at the top, there would be an­other hun­dred or so com­ments. I sat in my car for nearly an hour as wave af­ter wave of com­ments came through from across the coun­try, ban­ning peo­ple from our page if they said any­thing ho­mo­pho­bic or threat­en­ing.

As I write this, it’s 48 hours later and peo­ple are still lash­ing out on the thread. Over 100 users were banned and the video gen­er­ated 2,000 shares, 4,000 com­ments and 220,000 views. And count­ing.

Just two days prior to the in­stall, when we re­ported that it was to take place that week­end, a de­bate broke among those in the LGBT com­mu­nity on our Face­book page about whether and why the cross­walks were needed.

Make no mis­take, the back­lash that fol­lowed showed why we need them. This was a na­tional ef­fort to spew ha­tred against the LGBT com­mu­nity, and it was all fo­cused on one in­ter­sec­tion in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, be­cause the city had the gall to rec­og­nize us.

Could the money have gone to a wor­thy lo­cal LGBT cause in­stead, as many asked? Ac­tu­ally, no. This was a pub­licly funded project, so if not to the cross­walks, the city would have al­lo­cated the money to a dif­fer­ent Of­fice of Trans­porta­tion project.

This con­tro­versy also brought to mind the fact that a cer­tain seg­ment of the right side of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum likes to lob the term “snowflake” at those on the left for be­ing overly sen­si­tive or frag­ile. The term ap­peared nu­mer­ous times in the cross­walks video thread. These peo­ple spent the bet­ter part of their 4th of July week­end on a gay news­pa­per’s Face­book page bitch­ing and moan­ing about a cross­walk. Now, who ex­actly has the more del­i­cate sen­si­bil­i­ties here?

Un­for­tu­nately, the up­roar also brought out the worse in some of those within the LGBT com­mu­nity. It’s trou­bling how many used misog­yny as a weapon in re­ac­tion to anti-LGBT com­ments. To those that did, you’re do­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing to help the sit­u­a­tion. And your com­ments were flagged just as quickly as the anti-gay ones.

We’ll see if the anti-LGBT big­ots con­tinue to stir up con­tro­versy. That’s out of our con­trol. What is in our con­trol is de­cid­ing whether or not we want to con­tinue the in­fight­ing in our com­mu­nity about the cross­walks.

They are here to stay. Let’s move on to big­ger fights.

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