Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Press conference justifies my faith in South Carolina

While lgbts around the country are tussling over issues like marriage equality and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, South Carolina's lgbt community took a stand against a bill with an added amendment designed to exclude us.

Last week, a bill was pushed through the SC House of Representatives that required schools to create teen dating violence prevention policies.

The bill was a good idea, but it got tainted when a state representative, Greg Delleney, pushed an amendment through requiring the bill to pertain to only heterosexual relationships.

Delleney said he did this because he was afraid that without this requirement, schools would have to teach children about same-sex relationships.

That's why a group 0f us along with two other state representatives, Ken Kennedy and Gilda Cobb-Hunter, held a press conference today.

There were so many things I liked about the press conference: we had a good crowd, good media participation, and it is playing well on television.

Also, the comments section on our local news page's webpage is buzzing and it looks like folks understand our point of view.

So all in all, the press conference was a success in garnering positive attention.

But for me as a gay black South Carolinian, there were more successes today.

Both legislators who spoke at our press conference were African-American and they both personalized the issues.

Their acknowledgements weren't the usual "we stand with gays in the spirit of the civil rights movement" statement that the lgbt community sometimes receives from black allies.

Kennedy said that he has lgbt relatives in his family and the issue affects them.

Cobb-Hunter's speech was also excellent but she did something that I will never forget. Before the press conference started, she turned to us and said "thank you for standing up and showing everyone that this is your house too."

I'm ashamed to admit (it's my pride - sue me already) that when she said this, I was very close to tears.

It feels damn good to be respected for who you are instead of having to fight the petty stereotypes that people have of you.

So I guess I went away from the press conference feeling good about South Carolina. This state gets a lot of flack when it comes to gay rights.

While a lot is justified, I hate it when people say things like "South Carolina is so homophobic" and "Gays need to move away."

I've never had any use for people who say things like this; those folks who, when faced with a huge wall of ignorance or intolerance, will either throw up their hands in defeated resignation or wrap themselves up in the shroud of indifference and apathy.

I love this state and intend to fight for my place in it despite the fact that it may seem like a lost cause.

Sometimes lost causes are the best things to fight for because they aren't lost at all but only misplaced.

I learned that lesson today.

So what happens now?

My guess is that the bill will be taken up again tomorrow by the state Senate but won't pass. Apparently our beloved Governor Sanford vetoed the entire state budget so all attention will be focused on that.

Who would've thought that Governor No would be good for something?

It's just a day of miracles.

Editor's Note - The South Carolina Progressive Network, South Carolina Equality, SC Pride Movement, and the Columbia chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays deserve huge kudos for pulling the press conference together. Harriet Hancock of PFLAG also deserve big kudos for speaking at the press conference.

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Anonymous said...

wow, just found your site. You are extremely passionate on your views. I was unaware of your personal choice. It must be difficult dealing with the issues you face. I applaud your courage. I will bookmark this site and read more when I have the chance.

B Russell
EH 07

BlackTsunami said...

Thanks Bill. My personal choice to live my life out of the closet rather than in was one I made while in college ;p

wavingpalms said...

I'm a Charleston boy, and I have to say-

Amen, brother.

rhonda cowles said...

As usual, i'm a day late & a dollar short, but i had to say thank you from a fellow SC native. Many of my friends talk about/are moving from this state to a more accepting place. i have always thought, "screw that. i'm gonna stay here and fight for my rights!"

Anyway, thank you so very much for everything you are doing to help us!