When people in Alabama find out that that my husband, our two kids and I just moved from California we get the same response. Every time. “Wow! That must be such a huge culture shock?” Well, in fact, it is. The price of fresh fruit and vegetables are ridiculously high, the humidity is off the charts and I’m suspicious of all the charming, friendly people. But I can get past those issues. My worst fear was that homophobia ran rampant in the south.
I have close family and friends that are gay and, as a mother, I always consider the fact that one or both of my kids may be gay. Alabama’s part of the Bible-Belt and they have a reputation for being “traditional” and a smidge old fashioned. I told myself I wasn’t being reasonable. In fact I was being a little judgy. Wasn’t that how I thought they would be? Lots of religious groups, their leaders and everyday church goers are very supportive of the LGBT community. I was clearly being a snobby Californian. It was 2014, I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I told myself I was going to be positive and not assume the worst.
Well, best laid plans and all that. Being optimistic didn’t last long. I went on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Angry because same sex couples don’t have the same rights as married couples. Ecstatic because Alabama lifted the ban on gay marriage. Frustrated because people are fighting so aggressively against it. Shocked when a friend, who moved from California as well, had a neighbor’s caregiver come over to introduce himself and felt he “should” tell her he was gay. Proud to be raising our children to understand that everyone and every family is different, and that’s okay. Frightened that people will be cruel to them because of this. Disappointed in myself for getting too comfortable with the way things were in California and being in denial about the lack of progress in other states.
Wait…Positive…Optimistic…this was my plan right? They may not be my strong suit, but if I didn’t do something I was going to let all these ugly feelings fester. Something you should know; I’m a bit of a control freak. Cue all the people who know me say “a bit”? My problem was that none of this was in my control. I couldn’t fix things and make everything the way I thought they should be. My mission was to prove that there were likeminded people here. I started to investigate further and sure enough, I found people who were very sympathetic to the issues that LGBT people are facing. From a couple moms in my daughter’s class to my hair stylist to friends I’ve made since moving here. Sure, Alabama may not be where California is on marriage equality and equal rights, but California was where Alabama is at one time. California fought its battles won, lost and won again. I’m confident Alabama will eventually get there too.
When I feel helpless about the state of things, I remember that my husband and I are teaching our children to be compassionate, kind, tolerant and open minded toward others and that, in a small way, is doing something. I can at least make sure that the two small humans we’re raising will go out into the world and follow the tried and true Golden Rule, treat others the way they would want to be treated. It seems like common sense to me.
Driving through my daughter’s elementary school parking lot there was a van that had a homemade sign on it with a rainbow that read “Straight & Support”. It gave me hope.
Christy recently relocated to Daphne, Alabama from California where she lived all her 36 years. She lives with her wonderful husband and her two very silly children. Christy is also the proud sister to her wickedly talented big brother, Sean. Sean and his equally talented husband, David, are currently working on opening up hearts and minds with their one man play, At the Flash, which depicts five gay/lesbian characters during 5 different decades. www.attheflash.com