Valentine's Day, 2012
To celebrate Validation Day, this week I've turned the steering wheel over to Written Word, Spoken Word first-responder Amanda Carron of Desloge, MO, and a few of her favorite and fabulous friends.
Much as I'd like to share in the credit I can hardly term this stunning guest-post a collaboration, as Amanda has performed 100% of the creative work—text and portraiture—for which I am forever grateful.
In the spirit of the openness Amanda lives and breathes, I avow as I've only had one rather limited sexual encounter with a woman, so I'm not sure where exactly I'll fit in the nomenclature of the Gay/Straight Alliance we're hoping to form (probably straddling one of the vowels somewhere to the right side of the slash). It is my experience that most people are not strictly one label or the other, at least in their daydreams and fantasies, whether or not they have the courage to overcome their prejudices and inhibitions and act on their desires.
But there is no doubt about it, we are making history here in St. Francois County just by being our incredibly sexy, rural Missouri selves. Yet another story you won't see in the Park Hills Journal. Doesn't get better than this. Enjoy!
There is a big closet in the Mineral Area and, whether open or discreetly private about your sexuality, you are expected to reside in it. Don’t be too “in your face” about your preferences and no one will have a problem with you. I don’t know how many times I have heard that particular phrase, in some form or other.
There is a very prevalent, “not in my backyard” conformist attitude, even though everyone knows someone with different tastes, be it gay or lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, even something as banal and harmless as cross dressing heterosexuals or S&M participants. We all have a little kink in our corset, admit it or not. So why is it so bad, this open self-expression? Why is it such a taboo that young people have moved out of the area and away from their homes just to be themselves?
I am disappointed in my community for frowning on boys that hold hands in Wal-Mart. These are our sons, our brothers, our dads! Some have gone as far as committing suicide to end the suffering at the hands of uptight, judgmental haters? This needs to end. We need to live and let live.
"There are stories to be told, but they may not be the ones you think they are." This may be the statement that started the whole thing. Frances inquired about the gay community or lack thereof in St. Francois County and the surrounding area, prompting this response.
Our discussion ranged from discrimination to dating habits and it brought us around to one conclusion. We need a better sense of community. I want to embark on a project that will help to initiate just such a thing.
There are so many members of the LGBT community in this area. (For those of you possibly unfamiliar with the vernacular, LGBT stands for lesbian, bi, gay and transgendered.) It would be wonderful to band together.
Ideally, in the utopia of my mind, I envision a gay/ straight alliance, a gay community center, and eventually a Pride fest in the SFC and surrounding area. We can only benefit from joining like minds together for a central purpose of community. So how does one go about addressing these issues?
To begin you would need a group of people with a desire for similar purposes to gather and discuss the basics. I would love to hold mixers to get to know who our "family" is and meet new people. We need involvement! We need people to get passionate about their community and break out of their comfort zone.
There was a small chapter of PFLAG in Farmington. There may still be, and I am just as guilty as anyone else, but I never attended meetings. I had kids and a family, work and school. I let everything else take precedence, and look where I am. No closer to being able to marry my girlfriend than I was 5 years ago, no closer to knowing all of my friends are safe to walk the street holding hands with their significant other without reprisal.
I am disappointed in myself and the lackadaisical attitude and complacency I have adopted. I let myself get comfortable and accepting of the closed-minded situation. But if we want change we have to take up the torch, we need to get off the couch, and rally around each other. If we want our local community to accept us openly, we need to be more open. They need to see us as unashamed; otherwise their idea that our alternative lifestyle is bad will continue to be perpetuated.
We need to establish a gay community in the Mineral Area. There are so many other good things that can come of this. We need to foster creativity and self- expression without fear of repercussions. We need a resource for commonality. We need to kick the door off this closet and make it ok to come out.
If anyone is interested in attending a meeting to discuss forming a committee for a gay/straight alliance in our area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .