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"I thought I was the only gay person in the world for a long time."
March 30, 2013 4:19 PM   Subscribe

The county where no one's gay. The 2010 Census of Franklin County Mississippi shows no same sex couples. (pdf). CNN videographer Brandon Ancil and human rights columnist John D. Sutter tried to determine if the census was wrong, and see if they could find gay men and women willing to speak about "what keeps them hidden." Video
posted by zarq (54 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Everybody knows who everybody is around here," he said. "I live openly, but I can't live with anybody or anything like that because they persecute you."

"We don't exist -- you didn't know that?" he added. "We're zero. We're nothing."
It's so hard to get enraged by this, because it's so sad it wears me down.
posted by xingcat at 4:28 PM on March 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Tell you what: the woman who said "I don't have that right" to out her neighbors has way more of a clue than John D. Sutter. Seriously, WTF. P.S. -- we are everywhere. Duh.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:31 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, that seems like the place time forgot. Not in a good way, either.
posted by jaduncan at 4:32 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I drove to this place of rolling hills and misty valleys with a few questions on my mind: Can there really be such a thing as an all-straight county? If so, what is it like to be someone who never has met a gay person? Do you just watch "Glee" and figure it out?

Aw man, author, I know you're joking about the Glee thing, but that's a little closed minded of you.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:37 PM on March 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


But the longer I stayed in Franklin County, the more I realized we're all to blame for this -- gay and straight, religious and secular. We're not quick enough to call out anti-gay hate speech, too ready to tolerate people who are different, to hold them at a comfortable distance, rather than understanding and embracing them. And, in the gay community, we're too shy about being who we are, especially if we find ourselves in seemingly hostile or unwelcoming territory.

Thanks, what I was looking for in this article was a glib 'the truth is in the middle' between minority groups and the people who oppress them.
posted by jaduncan at 4:39 PM on March 30, 2013 [28 favorites]


Thanks, what I was looking for in this article was a glib 'the truth is in the middle' between minority groups and the people who oppress them.

In conclusion, homophobia is a bigotry of many contrasts.
posted by threeants at 4:41 PM on March 30, 2013 [58 favorites]


Aw man, author, I know you're joking about the Glee thing, but that's a little closed minded of you.

I get what he's saying. I spent part of my childhood in a relatively small American town where my family and I were the only Jews some of my neighbors had ever met. Their only knowledge of folks like me were antisemitic caricatures that they'd been told by family members, friends and other people in their community. That, and what they'd seen on tv. The internet didn't exist as a resource for the public's reference yet.

People who have no personal experience with folks that aren't like them can make pretty astonishing assumptions.
posted by zarq at 4:56 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I spent a few days searching for answers before I realized I was making the wrong assumptions: It's not that gay people here (or anywhere really) want to be in the closet, necessarily. It's the rest of the world that pushes them in and shuts the door.

I'm sorry, but duh.
posted by rtha at 5:08 PM on March 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


Aw man, author, I know you're joking about the Glee thing, but that's a little closed minded of you.

It's not clear to me that the author is joking or why that sentence might be closed minded — the characters on Glee tend to be very "out" (well, the gay ones…) and discuss homosexuality as the normal, common thing that it is. Musical teen dramas aren't usually my thing, but I love the show because it seems like such a force for good in the world.
posted by glhaynes at 5:15 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


So wait. When a virulently anti-gay politician passes laws repressing gays and then is outed...that's bad, because we shouldn'tbe outing people. But when an "investigative journalist" goes and roots out normal people to ask what's wrong with them, that's good?
posted by DU at 5:17 PM on March 30, 2013


This seems to highlight that it is more acceptable in our culture to be a lesbian than to be a gay man. The people who were willing to go on camera were women. Maybe that's because women are super fucking awesome and brave (and those women CERTAINLY are). But it also probably, on some level, because the hetero male sexual interest in lesbian relationships makes them less threatening.

I'm not 100% sure what my point is, but it does seem that the trope of "lesbo chix are hott" provides some (admittedly demeaning) cover for gay women in very regressive places. The gay men seem to be far more marginalized and alone, sadly.

I couldn't get a good look, but was the reporter driving a Fiat 500 to do this reporting? If so, I totally love him.
posted by jeoc at 5:27 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also: wow, what a long way we've come that a gay man could think that you'd have to live in Mississippi to feel like you were the only gay person on earth! Or that you'd have to live in Mississippi to not know that gay people live in your community! Maybe he should get to know some of his elders who came out before Ellen and the Internet. Oh, and get off my lawn.
posted by Wordwoman at 5:27 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


So wait. When a virulently anti-gay politician passes laws repressing gays and then is outed...that's bad, because we shouldn'tbe outing people. But when an "investigative journalist" goes and roots out normal people to ask what's wrong with them, that's good?

This seems misplaced. He obviously had permission to "out" the people whose names he used, and those who didn't want to be identified in the video weren't (e.g., "John the artist").
posted by eugenen at 5:31 PM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


If anyone else was wondering, per the PDF in the link, there would be fewer than 10 same sex couples expected in Franklin county, given the statewide rate of 3.1 per 1000. (Franklin is the fourth smallest county in MS; 3,184 households.) The same sex statistics (detailed tables) I saw on the Census site suggest about 5.6 SS couples per 1000 HH, which would be 18. At the national rate -- and this is obviously not the case -- 25 same sex couples would be expected. So it's fairly obvious that some people are not reporting their status, not that I blame them.

I'm a little surprised he didn't go to one of the 41 counties in the Dakotas that don't have any same sex couples per the same data source.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:38 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


So wait. When a virulently anti-gay politician passes laws repressing gays and then is outed...that's bad, because we shouldn'tbe outing people. But when an "investigative journalist" goes and roots out normal people to ask what's wrong with them, that's good?

Huh? He didn't out anyone. As far as I can tell, everyone in the article that he identified as gay were already living openly except maybe the store clerk. Anyone who did not want to be identified would not have given him permission. Anyone that asked to by anonymous was made anonymous.

I don't get the hate for this piece. This is good journalism to me - someone sees a figure in the census that seems off, goes and confirms that it is indeed wrong.
posted by Think_Long at 5:53 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam"

--Nina Simone (1963)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:58 PM on March 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm not 100% sure what my point is, but it does seem that the trope of "lesbo chix are hott" provides some (admittedly demeaning) cover for gay women in very regressive places. The gay men seem to be far more marginalized and alone, sadly.

That doesn't quite match up with the article. The gay women portrayed here did seem to be occupying a distinctly feminine role, but it's not "hott lesbo chix" -- it's "dutiful wives/mothers/daughters."

Dunno how much that changes things. It's still a pretty restrictive role -- and it still sucks if no comparable role is available to gay men in the community.

(Partly too I'm just skeptical all around of the "lesbianism is acceptable because straight men get off on it" trope. As a story about what you can get away with on TV or on stage, it makes a whole lot of sense and I totally buy it. As a story about how real-world communities work, it doesn't fit my experience at all. In my experience, lesbians who manage to gain acceptance in socially conservative spaces usually do it, not by playing up their sexuality and titillating the guys, but by desexualizing the way they talk and act in public -- to the point where they're presenting their relationships with their wives and girlfriends like they're basically just roommates who occasionally hug.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:02 PM on March 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


The only gay man in this village.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:18 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw man, author, I know you're joking about the Glee thing, but that's a little closed minded of you.

Clearly, he should have cited Harriet the Spy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:28 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really thought this was going to be trite and possibly statistically dubious. It was those things, but it was also very sad.
posted by miyabo at 7:30 PM on March 30, 2013


I'm sorry, but duh.

This, and the glee thing... Does this really have to become a pile on of the author for realizing or pointing out 101 level stuff? What about the readers who don't get this yet?

Just because its duh stuff to (most of) us doesn't mean it isn't worth mentioning to people who haven't realized this stuff yet.
posted by emptythought at 7:33 PM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


God that was depressing.
posted by Kloryne at 7:40 PM on March 30, 2013


I think that the reason that it seems like lesbianism has been more acceptable* than being a gay man may have to do with the relative statuses of masculinity and femininity. Women who are perceived to be more like men - either in gender expression or who they desire - are more respected than men who are perceived to be more like women. (Which is silly - as someone else said a little while ago, what's more manly than two men together? no estrogen whatsoever). There's a reason that "tomboy" has not been an insult, at least for any of my lifetime, while "sissy" still is. And it's been this way for centuries - I've done some reading on women cross-dressing, living as men and/or marrying women in the 17th and 18th centuries - and while they were persecuted by society, it wasn't to the same extent as men taking similar actions.

As for gay men - the least threatening are those who don't challenge gender binaries. To bring Glee back up, I think it was pretty brave to depict the character Kurt as very feminine. Sure, it's a stereotype (as just about all the characters are), but it's also a positive and well-rounded depiction -- and goes farther to challenge homophobic attitudes than a "straight-acting" character would have done.

*This isn't to say that it's easier or make a comment on anyone's personal experience - except to say that being a bi girl who went to an arts school running gay-positive plays in the early 1990s was pretty easy.
posted by jb at 7:42 PM on March 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


The 2006 documentary Small Town Gay Bar focuses on two gay bars in rural Mississippi. One of them is in Meridian, which is about two hours from Franklin county.

Franklin county is also about two hours from New Orleans, which has a HUGE gay population and is locally known as the place you go if you're gay in rural Louisiana or Mississippi.

It should also probably be mentioned that Franklin county is located near Hattiesburg, which is a bit of a college town. Though probably not a very liberal one.

I don't want to poo-poo the effort to learn more about what it means to be gay in rural America, but honestly the reason there are "no gay people" there is because any gay people who are interested in being out most likely move to New Orleans. Gay people who maybe aren't so gung ho to move to the big city probably move a few counties east towards Jackson, where there is at least a gay bar, or to Hattiesburg where maybe the college has some resources.

My point?

There's no real reason for a gay person to stay in Franklin County, Mississippi. Frankly, there's not much reason for anyone to stay, and my first instinct about the census data would be to look at other demographics like age.
posted by Sara C. at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Everyone knows about the CNN comments section goddam.
posted by raysmj at 8:04 PM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but duh.

Something that might be worth considering here is CNN's audience and who he intends to view the segment and read the article. I think perhaps he is on some level writing for people who may not have thought very deeply about the difficulties a LGBT person might face as a tiny minority in rural America. Or be aware of the history of the gay rights movement. To whom the face of gay America is indeed people like Ellen Degeneres or Chris Colfer.

Personally, I found it a sobering and depressing reminder that while the fight for marriage equality is ongoing, there are still areas of this country where gay men and women are literally afraid to come out to their neighbors and friends and/or live openly because they could be putting their lives or livelihoods at risk.
posted by zarq at 8:06 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


jeoc - my guess about lesbians vs. gay men is that it's just a fluke of the video piece. I mean, Meadville, MS, has a population of about 500 people. The journalist found the lesbian couple by asking at a salon. The women say that they're one of only two open same sex couples in town. So that's 4 out LGBT people living in committed relationships in a town of 500, where my guess is that the demographics skew older than the average age of an out gay cohabiting couple.

That seems, frankly, kind of OK to me. Not great if you consider the "ten percent" hypothesis, but pretty good when you think of the attrition rate for young people in a place like Franklin County.

I'm a lot more concerned with the presence of matter-of-fact homophobia among everyone the journalist spoke to, even discussed by the out couple who say that they have a good relationship with the one woman's mother. That's something that is ubiquitous in places with far more openly gay people, and which are far more cosmopolitan than Meadville, MS. It seems odd to me to couple The County With No Gay People and the notion of overt homophobia, as if people aren't homophobic in Brookhaven or Jackson, or Baton Rouge, or Atlanta, or New York, or even San Francisco.
posted by Sara C. at 8:10 PM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sara C.: That's the old, old Kinsey hypothesis.The percentage of self-identified gays and lesbians is closer to 3-4 percent in the US.
posted by raysmj at 8:41 PM on March 30, 2013


not by playing up their sexuality and titillating the guys, but by desexualizing the way they talk and act in public -- to the point where they're presenting their relationships with their wives and girlfriends like they're basically just roommates who occasionally hug

Yeah, true. That's another trope about women - we don't really want sex, we just do it to attract and keep men. Again, not threatening. And again, demeaning and diminishing.

I'm a lot more concerned with the presence of matter-of-fact homophobia among everyone the journalist spoke to
Me too. And while there ARE homophobic people in New York and San Francisco, I'm pretty sure they can't just walk into $RANDOM_SOCIAL_SITUATION and be homophobic without consequence in quite the way they can in other areas of the country. And even there, the ground is shifting startlingly fast.

Even in my conservative part of the country (semi-rural NC), the support for marriage equality in the past week has been amazing and encouraging. The southern, white women in their 30's, 40's and 50's who mostly make up my facebook feed were overwhelmingly in support of marriage equality (based on all the red equal signs and HRC and related shares).

Maybe I'm just on a high, but it does seem like the America depicted by this piece is fading. It hasn't reached the deep, rural South yet, not completely. But it's coming

Yes, I realize my state authorized a constitutional amendment very recently to block gay marriage. But things are really changing very fast on the ground. If we had been able to hold that referendum off a few years, I am confident it would have been defeated. The assholes won that round, but the arc of history and all that.... We'll get it straightened out.
posted by jeoc at 8:41 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I drove to this place of rolling hills and misty valleys with a few questions on my mind: Can there really be such a thing as an all-straight county? If so, what is it like to be someone who never has met a gay person? Do you just watch "Glee" and figure it out?

Dude, I am a gay person who grew up in a small town, but a small town within 30 minutes of a major metropolitan area, in a fairly liberal state, and I never met a gay person until high school. I had a weird time of coming out because I had literally nothing except dumb TV stereotypes to go on. You don't have to be in Mississippi for that to happen.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:43 PM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sara C.: That's the old, old Kinsey hypothesis.The percentage of self-identified gays and lesbians is closer to 3-4 percent in the US.

I know that. I'm just spitballing some figures.

Even if we were to assume that one in ten people is a Kinsey 3 or more (their choice whether to be out, whether to stay in a town like Meadville, whether to live with a partner, etc), about 1% of the population of an extremely insular rural town in the most socially conservative part of the US, which happens to be within easy driving distance of a major gay enclave, is actually pretty OK. I mean, it ain't West Hollywood, but it's not an embarrassment.

What is an embarrassment is how said people are treated in that community.
posted by Sara C. at 8:51 PM on March 30, 2013


I'm pretty sure they can't just walk into $RANDOM_SOCIAL_SITUATION and be homophobic without consequence in quite the way they can in other areas of the country.

It depends on exactly where in New York City and in what company, but potentially yes.

Also, in terms of the reality of being queer (as opposed to, like, being at a party and someone says they don't like gay people or the like), I've gotten dirty looks kissing a woman in public. I have lesbian friends who were followed or verbally harrassed.

Remember the whole Rutgers bullying thing? Rutgers is just barely outside the New York metro area. Homophobia is NOT just a problem of rural Mississippi, by any means.
posted by Sara C. at 8:54 PM on March 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Dude, I am a gay person who grew up in a small town, but a small town within 30 minutes of a major metropolitan area, in a fairly liberal state, and I never met a gay person until high school.

This was my experience in Scaggsville, Maryland, parked right between Baltimore and Washington. We're a solid blue state, but it was not a particularly gay friendly place and I didn't know a single other gay person in my neighborhood, school, church, scouts, or other social circle until I got a driver's license and started going to gay youth meetings at the old Gay Community Center in DC.

Years later, I found that there were a few of us mixed in, but it was all very under-your-hat.
posted by sonascope at 8:54 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's no real reason for a gay person to stay in Franklin County, Mississippi.

Family, money, partner with family issues, desire to make things better for the next generation of gay kids in Franklin County, Mississippi.
posted by Etrigan at 9:00 PM on March 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


sara C.: Yeah, but also remember that part of the poor treatment comes from the state govt. Then the newish current governor, Phil Bryant, is the most conservative, ideologically (not just on race and social issues or into Reagan or whatever, he's a Tea Party type and is way way way off into abortion and trying to shut it down) that the state has really ever had, on the whole.

Meanwhile, you have raging bigots even in the gay haven on New Orleans. Exhibit A, as of late: Fred Luter, the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a NOLA-based pastor, who this week connected gay marriage hearings and the threats from North Korea's Kim Jung Un.
posted by raysmj at 9:13 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Etrigan, you misunderstand. I'm not saying that gay people ought to leave Franklin County, just that, presumably, the reason there are so few out cohabiting same sex couples there is that most people who would be open to doing that would be more likely to leave.

The towns mentioned in the video piece each have about 500 inhabitants. This is not a thriving place which is SO HOMOPHOBIC that people somehow cannot be gay there. It's an incredibly insular place which happens to be not terribly remote, and where most likely a high percentage of young people are expected to leave regardless of sexual orientation.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, this piece is ostensibly about queer visibility in rural Mississippi, but I think (for a number of reasons people have mentioned above) it's actually more germane as a piece about the US Census and its penetration/effectiveness. The journalist was all, "clearly these gay people are living in terror, hiding from the Census!!!" and then when he actually found some lesbian folks, they were like "uh yeah, we never saw any such thing but totally would have filled the shit out of that." As someone who does a lot of research using Census and ACS data, the direction and degree of bias in that data collection is pretty important to me.
posted by threeants at 9:51 PM on March 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Dude, I am a gay person who grew up in a small town, but a small town within 30 minutes of a major metropolitan area, in a fairly liberal state, and I never met a gay person until high school. I had a weird time of coming out because I had literally nothing except dumb TV stereotypes to go on. You don't have to be in Mississippi for that to happen.

I grew up in the suburbs of a big city (with one of NorthAm's biggest Pride Parades) and still didn't meet anyone LGBT until high school (where I did, because it was that kind of high school). But I did have TVOntario (Film International played the film of Maurice) and PBS (where Masterpiece theatre played a biopic of Vita Sackville-West) - so I had good Edwardian depictions instead of dumb stereotypes.

God love public television.
posted by jb at 9:51 PM on March 30, 2013


Very sad. The federal government must step up (or be forced to step up) and treat gay people and gay couples equally in states like Mississippi.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:05 PM on March 30, 2013


Threeants, there's a throwaway comment somewhere in the piece that the couple in question just recently bought the house they're living in.

Is it possible that they filled out a census form, but didn't live together at the time (it has been three years, after all), or lived in another county?

I've looked at census data from very nearby there from the 1920's through 40's. What has been released publicly seems to be accurate enough for what I know about my family. If the census is truly not penetrating to rural Mississippi in 2010, that's a sign that the US has some pretty staggering problems with local participation in basic aspects of citizenship, not to mention a general sense of cultural decline (if the census could get to the next county over in 1930, why couldn't they get to Franklin County in 2010?).
posted by Sara C. at 10:21 PM on March 30, 2013


I spent a little time in Roxie, MS, and nothing would surprise me about that town. While I was there, the mayor got involved in a knife-and-bicycle-chain fight on main street, and that was just the first night.
posted by muckster at 5:31 AM on March 31, 2013


If the census is truly not penetrating to rural Mississippi in 2010, that's a sign that the US has some pretty staggering problems with local participation in basic aspects of citizenship, not to mention a general sense of cultural decline (if the census could get to the next county over in 1930, why couldn't they get to Franklin County in 2010?)

Census omissions work more subtly than you're imagining.

Although the 2010 census certainly reached my small city in the Shenandoah Valley, it did not reach my mixed-use building, which has offices on the ground floor and ten apartments upstairs. Of those ten apartments, three were currently occupied by lesbian couples. We received nothing in the mail, and when I mentioned this to a Census worker (thinking maybe they were having trouble getting inside the building), he told me that we're not listed and he can only go where they send him.

As someone who does a lot of research using Census and ACS data, the direction and degree of bias in that data collection is pretty important to me.

Relevant questions to consider:

(a) By what process does the Census identify buildings as places of residence? Our building is zoned by the city as B1, 'Central Business District', and by the state code as 4, 'Commercial and Industrial'.

(b) Do unconventional couples disproportionately live in unconventional housing stock? Perhaps due to networks, mobility, and privacy? Just within our specific apartment, we know of two sets of previous tenants: a gay couple, and another lesbian couple (with their kids). When we first looked into renting the place, our (gaydar-triggering) landlord tried to promote its security as important for two women living in an urban environment. No such security pitch was made by landlords showing us other places, including a relatively out gay man offering to rent us a small house in a residential neighborhood (which presumably was included on the Census).
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:23 AM on March 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Homophobia is NOT just a problem of rural Mississippi, by any means.

A big element of this, too, is people wanting to just shirk it off on the "bigoted south". I see people do it all the time with racism as well.

A huge amount of this shit still exists everywhere. Yes, even in the gay neighborhoods of "progressive" coastal cities. I was just cruising through my Facebook feed, and saw friends complaining about people screaming homophobic shit at them on the street, and making awful racist jokes at them right smack dab in the middle of the "cool" part of town where lots of gay bars are, etc.

I think that's part of what bugs me about the tone and concept of this article. It's basically saying "is the core of bigotry in the Deep South?" When in fact, it's everywhere. People shouldn't be allowed to just go wipe the sweat off their brow and go "good thing we evolved beyond that one in $MAJORCITY" and act like its just them rural poor people doing it.

A lot of people here, once again, might go "duh" at this... But it's definitely a thing™ that a lot of people seem to want to believe.
posted by emptythought at 11:29 AM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I donno -- I agree that there is homophobic sh*t everywhere, but I also think that it's worse in some places. I think it's a lot worse in Mississippi, for example.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:04 PM on March 31, 2013


A huge amount of this shit still exists everywhere.

For example.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:46 PM on March 31, 2013


So. The South is still working hard to maintain its reputation for bigotry.

As gay old Gomer (who got married in Seattle on Jan. 15) often said: su-prize su-prize su-prize.
posted by Twang at 7:26 PM on March 31, 2013


I think it's a lot worse in Mississippi, for example.

It's a lot worse in Mississippi than in San Francisco.

It's not a lot worse in Mississippi than it is in Alabama, or Tennessee, or Texas, or Idaho, or... basically anywhere that's not a gayborhood in the middle of a huge cosmopolitan city. And even said enclaves have their moments.

The attitudes of most of the people interviewed in this video are pretty consistent with the big town/small city I grew up in. Which is also in the South, yeah, but socially it's pretty interchangeable with hundreds of other similar places all over America.

I don't really see how it benefits anyone to go to some tiny ass nowheresville town which actually has out gay couples cohabiting in it after all and single the casual bigots there out as somehow worse than the other casual bigots who live all over America but whose accents are less quaint.

I think the reason this piece really sticks in my craw is that a different journalist could have pitched this same piece (probably even using the same footage!) but had the through-line be about how amazing it is that a town like Meadville has at least two out lesbian couples cohabiting there. Rather than this weird finger pointy piece about how Meadville, Mississippi, isn't Amherst, Massachusetts. Which I think we all already knew.
posted by Sara C. at 8:08 PM on March 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


A follow-up on this from Jackson MS's Clarion-Ledger.
posted by raysmj at 8:38 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sara C. -- I agree mostly and -- I would think there are still regional differences if state laws and policies are any signal ... But I have incomplete information, not being a social scientist type, I should not speculate.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:32 PM on March 31, 2013


raysmj's link just above is not working for me; here's a google cache in case anyone else has the same problem.
posted by taz at 1:12 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, in the gay community, we're too shy about being who we are, especially if we find ourselves in seemingly hostile or unwelcoming territory.

Dear CNN "human rights and social change" columnist: If you cared to come live where I've lived -- where a lot of us "shy" gays have lived -- in towns and cities where the mere rumor that you might be gay is cause for the ruination of your life in every way imaginable, I think you'd change your tune about this. For many of us, especially those who were coming up in the "pre-Ellen" era, being shy about who we were was something called self-preservation. If you wanted to live, if you wanted to get through the day without being beat up or worse, you kept your mouth shut and you stayed in the damn closet. Some of us had parents or other family who were "hostile and unwelcoming territory," too, but you've evidently not thought of that.

As for why "shy" gay people stay in places where they're persecuted or ostracized, well, you may not be able to figure it out, but there are tons of reasons why people stay in places they may hate. They have family there. They have no way out of there. They don't want to be somewhere else. The list goes on. And I say this over and over again to people who think they have the gay map figured out: I have felt as though I were in "hostile or unwelcoming territory" just as often in supposedly progressive cities and towns as I have in places where there's a church on every corner. San Francisco is the only place where anyone ever called me "faggot" to my face, and it wasn't meant as a joke either. And just because you live in a city with a lot of gay people doesn't mean that they're welcoming you with open arms if you don't fit their mental map of what an urban gay person should dress/look/act like. It's entirely possible that there are gay people for whom living in Chelsea or the Castro would be far lonelier than living in Franklin County.

threeants: So, this piece is ostensibly about queer visibility in rural Mississippi, but I think (for a number of reasons people have mentioned above) it's actually more germane as a piece about the US Census and its penetration/effectiveness.

In a climate in which the dominant party in the House wants to cut all funding for the ACS except as a "voluntary" survey, I think it's even more germane to note that odds are that you're going to see less penetration/effectiveness on the part of the Census in the future, not more.
posted by blucevalo at 11:09 AM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are actually two reports from the Clarion-Ledger:

Franklin County residents: CNN report unfair
and
Franklin County woman supports CNN report on gay people
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and thanks for finding that article, raysmj. :)
posted by zarq at 12:29 PM on April 1, 2013


Clarion-Ledger: WE think you're great, readers. Keep on buying!
posted by jaduncan at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2013


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