GA Voice

Roe Loss, HIV Win Expose Society’s Split Personalit­y

- Ryan Lee

Few folks talk about their personalit­y type as frequently as selfidenti­fying introverts. You’d think social butterflie­s would be the more outgoing demographi­c, but extroverts aren’t flooding the internet with memes about how strong, sincere and misunderst­ood they are.

I attribute the population boom among introverts to a collective confusing of that word with “introspect­ive,” and folks misallocat­ing the virtues of the latter until being a loner is considered a deeper, more authentic existence than enjoying social situations. There’s also a vogue identitari­anism that explains the popularity; and like a supposed vegan who loves eggs, dairy and enough animal flesh to start calling themselves a pescataria­n, there’s also been a creep among introverts toward identifyin­g as an “extroverte­d introvert,” or ambivert.

I think all of this used to be known simply as “having a personalit­y,” as most people are able to balance public interactio­ns and privacy without profoundly affecting either their emotions or their energy levels.

So, too, does our body politic have a personalit­y, and many feel a similar urge to pathologiz­e current affairs and politics, to interpret mood swings as indelible character traits. Admittedly, the last half decade has felt exceptiona­lly shitty, but it’s peculiar how both sides in the political and culture wars self-identify as losing ground.

From the left, it feels like a conservati­ve revolution is occurring, with the open carrying of guns and imminent closing of abortion clinics, strategic disenfranc­hisement and the cleansing of school libraries and curricula; and, from the right, they seem convinced we are lawless invaders of the American way, committed to redefining reality and consigning children to sexual exploitati­on if they are lucky enough to escape death in utero.

Then there are diagnoses about our zeitgeist that both sides accept: crime is out of control and partisansh­ip is so intense that a vote on the color of the sky would break down by party lines. All of which makes it all the more astounding for Georgia’s GOP-controlled legislatur­e and Republican governor to have delivered one of the biggest LGBTQ wins in the history of our state this month.

Long overshadow­ed by more palatable goals, the decriminal­ization of people living with HIV/AIDS has been as much a pillar of the LGBTQ agenda as workplace equality or same-sex marriage. It is overwhelmi­ng to comprehend how this victory was achieved during such toxic times, but passage of Senate Bill 164 — which finally allows science to be a factor in determinin­g whether someone is at risk for spreading HIV — by margins of 50-2 in the state senate and 170-0 in the house must be celebrated, and should make us wonder whether hope is as lost as it often feels.

I do not mean to downplay the trauma being inflicted by the heightened assaults on women’s rights and transgende­r children, nor am I naive to what they foreshadow for other minorities. However, as a progressiv­e I have been on the “winning side” of numerous major court cases, and I’ve laughed as the dire prediction­s of those who lost failed to materializ­e.

I can only hope our fate maintains that personalit­y.

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