Yesterday I heard good friends tell how this defeat impacted their personal emotions and their lives. I don’t think I had fully understood before this that the usually unspoken prejudices of many of our Alamance County neighbors would SHOUT through the election—-shout hatred and even danger.
One friend said she hesitated to approach a package which UPS had left on her doorstep. Another said she feared for her son who lives with his partner in a rural neighborhood. The Election SHOUTED.
An ad in the Times-News before the election reminded us that the terrible message of the Amendment to vulnerable gay young people is that “their state and their neighbors consider them second-class citizens, undeserving of the same basic rights and protections.”
Before the election, I knew prejudice was there. But I thought the campaign might even change some of that homophobia. I took hope from the huge groundswell of strangers who offered support to defeat the Amendment, the people who said “thank you for being here” at the polling places, who offered thumbs-up. I think LGBTQ people also felt hope.
But yeterday I heard and understood how devastating it must be to realize that 64% of the people who come together in Alamance County malls or pass on Alamance County roads think gays are depersonalized threatening human beings who don’t deserve the rights which our democracy promises. It made even the most confident professional gays feel scared as well as detested.
I guess the only response is to remember that 10,580 people in Alamance voted AGAINST. It’s true that is not quite 36%. But I do believe it is more people than we could have thought of as supporters last fall. A letter from EqualityNC included the following paragraph:“When the official campaign against the amendment started back in November, Equality NC had 26,000 supporters. Today, 100,000 people stand united with us against discrimination. In spite of what happened on Tuesday, it’s clear the LGBT community in North Carolina no longer stands alone. “
We family members and supporters and “allies” do have a bigger base to build from. Marriage off the table, we might focus on school bullying and helping gay kids grow up with self-respect. But gays are not included in most employment discrimination laws in North Carolina. Most employers still don’t offer benefits to same-sex partners. Perhaps we can move ahead in those areas.
I know the depression and fear will fade as our gay friends go on with their normal lives. But we supporters really do need to remember that this was a devastating emotional blow for LGBTQ folk….and some of its effects will remain in their hearts. — Eleanor Ketcham
Please comment at pflagAlamance on Facebook