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Views & Voices

Is Tennessee really that bad?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tennessee has been getting a bad rap lately. From the passage of anti-gay legislation in the last session of the state legislature, to the current issue regarding Gay-Straight alliances in East Tennessee schools, or anti-gay assault in West Tennessee, national (and international) communities have lambasted the state as a haven for bigots and religious extremists.

Though this perception of Tennessee may in fact be true; it gives us a very one sided perception of a state that has so much going for it.

Fall colors in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park In Tennessee.

Though extremists may run the state, and though there are many people who harbor anti-gay views, Tennessee is, in fact, one of the most progressive of the Southern States. To paint a picture of Tennessee as a place where only those with hate in their hearts live, is to paint those equality minded residents with a brush that does not do them justice at all.

Within this state are individuals who work day and night to advance the interests of equality and equal protections for gays and lesbians.

It was through these individuals efforts that the Metro Council of Nashville/Davidson county enacted its anti-discrimination provision (which was overturned by the state legislature).

It was through the efforts of dedicated allies in the fight for equality that the issue of Sequoyah High School’s drive to ratify a gay-straight alliance has gained national press.

And it is through the outspokenness of individuals such as Jerry Pittman Jr. and Dustin Lee that we can address head on the issue of hate-crimes in this state.

These past few years we have seen a profound shift in how we are dealing with anti-gay bigotry, for instead of staying in our closets, we will not take the degradation of our community sitting down. Instead we will stand and fight!

Tennessee is getting a bad rap, not because anything “new” is happening, but instead because we are actually doing something about what is going on, we are fighting against the forces of bigotry and hate. And, as everyone well knows, when the fight happens, the push-back is that much stronger.

This weekend, the City of Memphis and the Mid-South region are celebrating its annual Mid-South Pride. In the city which is known for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and encapsulates the reality of the civil rights struggle firsthand, LGBT people will cry out for their civil rights to be recognized.

Only blocks from the National Civil Rights museum, we will celebrate our community, and the impacts that we have made in this, and every, Mid-South city. In recognition of our struggle for societal acceptance, Memphis mayor A.C. Wharton issued a statement commemorating our celebration, a snippet of which follows:

“Mid-South Pride Festival and Parade is an annual, multicultural and educational event in Memphis that highlights the continued need for better understanding, respect, fairness, justice and equality for all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in the crusade to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices”

Though Tennessee may treat its LGBT citizens with condemnation and hate, it is not hopeless. Change does not come easy, but even if it did, change that comes with sacrifice is that much sweeter.

Let us rejoice that we are seeing change happen each and every day in this great state.

© Kyle Luebke.
For more by Kyle Luebke, click here to visit his blog.
Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. And yet Memphis was such a nice town! The Gay Men there are sweethearts!

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:02am
  2. I hate TN always have! I’ve been gay basted here and I’m moving asap.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:04am
  3. Tennessee is sdrawkcab.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:04am
  4. I think one day it will all pass! I mean it’s like one of those things with the color issues in the 60s! And now they have equal rights! And now if we can make it through this I believe the world will be a better place! We jus wants some world peace!

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:10am
  5. It may “have a lot going for it”, but all the things mentioned in the paragraph before that statement are deal breakers to me. I said I would never visit there, let alone live there… but I’m also from FL, so I already live among “unfriendly” laws and those ill-minded that are make the majority of the decisions. At least some of the garbage that happens is getting some attention.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:18am
  6. in ky they can be the same way so be careful there too

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:27am
  7. The state itself is gorgeous; same thing can’t be said about many of its residents. Of course, one could say the same of the WORLD!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:31am
  8. i live in the memphis area & it sucks ass…im moving soon,thank god:)

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 10:36am
  9. I live in Orlando which is not as close minded as the rest of FL. I find that the bigger cities like Orlando, and Miami are very Gay friendly. It’s the small cities that are very bigoted.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 11:25am
  10. Yes, Tennessee IS that bad. Hell, you’ve all seen the news!

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 11:35am
  11. Probably, yeah.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 11:42am
  12. Not if you take the people out of it.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 12:04pm
  13. is Tennessee really that bad? Yes, yes it is.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 2:28pm
  14. Yes. It really is.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 3:05pm
  15. Yes

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 3:23pm
  16. It’s not as bad as say, Jamaica or the Middle East. But it’s getting there.

    Posted on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 4:22pm
  17. I suppose large population centers like Nashville and Memphis aren’t so bad, as well as maybe oak ridge, since scientists tend to not be too bigoted. I live in Nashville, and many teens here have no issue with LGBTQ people, especially in the better schools here.

    Posted on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 2:21pm
  18. I have lived in 3 different cities in my life, all of which are in the state of TN. The city I grew up in was Clarksville (Ft.Campbell), so being smaller and more military it completely sucked and was very full of bigots and homophobes. The later two cities I lived in were both Knoxville and Nashville. These later two cities are full of a very large college crowd and they are generally very understanding and completely unlike the rest of the state. I love this state…its beautiful and is full of very nice people. So I am saddened and angered by the stupid and homphobic people that we have somehow allowed to govern and make up our states rules and laws. I am also upset at the people to snap quick judgements on my home state…we certainly arent some backwoods state like Alabama or Mississippi. Dont think your state is perfect either…only a small number of states can even come close to that. I just cant stand people who are quick to judge the state based on a few select individuals…do you realised that when you judge the state like that you are no better than the anti-gays who judge us based on a few lines in a book or a few random stereotypes they know of? please…just think before you speak. People actually read this stuff.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 8:53pm