Southern stories told by the Washington Blade

The Washington Blade recently published a series of articles detailing the quality of life of Southern LGBT individuals. The authors spent a week in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi chronicling accounts of those who have experienced poverty, discrimination, Hurricane Katrina, and other hardships not uncommon to residents of the South.

In Spanish Fort, Alabama, a transgender man, Lane Galbraith, started an LGBT advocacy group called LGBT Wave of Hope in 2009. The group provides education and conducts campaigns out of Galbraith’s home. In the article, Galbraith recounts his coming out story and provides a detailed background of the start of LGBT Wave of Hope. When asked why a repressed group of people stay in Alabama Galbraith was able to provide intimate insight.

“These are people that are hard-working and they have families,” said Galbraith. “They’re here for a reason. They don’t want to move because somebody doesn’t accept them or doesn’t have tolerance towards who they are and their family they’ve created. They’re here for a reason. They want to be a contributing factor to this city and town and the Gulf.”

In Jackson, Mississippi, Constance Gordon, a self-identifying lesbian, recounts her story drawing attention to the problems she faces at the intersection of race and sexuality. She describes her life as “privileged” because the hardships she faces are inherently easier in the 21st century as opposed to her mother’s hardships in legally sanctioned segregation. Despite the heightened level of acceptance, Gordon notes that there is still a long way to come.

“It’s easy to forget about people oppressing you when you can finally get a job and support yourself when you can box all this stuff and you’re not noticing all that oppression as easily. These same people are still here. We don’t leave. A lot of us are rooted, and I’m one of the rooted.”

Other articles detail a Mississippi mayor’s backing of marriage equality, business owner’s backlash to anti-LGBT legislation, and stories of LGBT families in Louisiana. As more states pass LGBT inclusive laws in the Northeast, West and Midwest, it is important to remember people in the states that are not as fortunate to have legal recourse. These articles help spread awareness of the struggles of people in the South and provide valuable insight so progress is possible.

To read the full stories, click on the links above or here.