#37 feels like a really respectable number in a culture that runs from progress like it has measles, and there might be some pride left for not falling dead last in a contest to see who can assimilate the fastest. But where is the time to feel pride when close behind the “win’ of SSM we have the old tried and true opinions about the South ready to follow quicker than a meme after the Grammys. I think most disappointing to me in this whole news cycle is the quick to the punch stereotypes from people that I love and respect all around the country. The narratives of “well you know, its Alabama” or “typical Alabama responses” happened even faster than most of us could process this news. What is so lazy and infuriating about Roy Moore isn’t that he is an ignorant asshat with a bent toward states rights (anyone awake for part of the last 30 years knows that) its that he has once again become the lightning rod for all that not so subtle South bashing that is just waiting around every corner.
Let me see if I can muddy your water for a moment. There is no monolithic narrative of the South. There is no Alabama Queer narrative monolith. The South (in all its forms) is full of some amazing activists both Queer and mainstream doing work on issues of social justice. Anyone who knows me knows that I am no fan of Gay Marriage. Of all of the things that Gay Marriage accomplishes, the one thing it does with absolute perfection is to galvanize the radical Right and all their nut-wing idiocy. But apparently the other thing that it does quite well is dredge up the all too familiar sentiment that the South is a hot bed of dirt eating, backwards, cousin dating morons.
Roy Moore is not Alabama. Roy Moore is the Alabama that our nation images it to be. What angers me the most in this story is not the ravings of some lunatic who would rather go to jail than to do what he is legally obligated to do. What angers me the most is that in a effort to get Gay Married at all costs, we have once again obscured the complex narrative of the Southern Queer experience under a pile of people rushing to the courthouse. I saw hundreds of posts from Gays in the South wailing about not being able to get married or celebrating in the places where they could, but not ONE SINGLE REMARK that challenged the notion of the complexity of Queer life in Alabama. With all this national attention, what a perfect place to confront stereotypes about life in Alabama, What a perfect platform to add voice to the lives of people in poverty, or Trans folks, or anything else. But because of blind ambition to be the first in line to get that paper we simply cried out for more marriages while once again allowing the basest ideas about Queer life in the South to expand and grow. Gay marriage renders all other conversations about Queer life totally invisible as it has since it took over our national conversation so many years ago.
Please don’t insult me by limiting my home and my own Southern Queerness with your “well that’s just what the South is like” bullshit. Please stop posting videos of homophobic conservatives talking about Queer people with your smiley emogi and having a nice laugh about Alabama. I am from Alabama as well and that should be enough to earn a little respect.
While we are at it, Gays please don’t run over me on your way to the courthouse by being so caught up in your moment that you forget that the South and Alabama are full of more stories than you give them credit for. While you are “defending” your right to get married, perhaps you could take 3 seconds to talk about the complex Alabama and South that you live in. Don’t forget that there are multiple battles happening here at the same time and we can fight against ignorant ideas of the South while you stand in line to get hitched.