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Off to see the 'in-laws' – Alabama

I’m heading off Friday morning to Birmingham, AL — Katie’s hometown — to visit her family. They are interesting people, aside from the fact that they aren’t happy that 1) I’m not white; 2) I’m not a man and 3) I’m married to their daughter.

Makes life interesting, huh?

Katie and I are staying in a hotel, renting a car and doing some sightseeing while there. We’ll see if there are any signs of out gay life downtown, but I’m not holding out too much hope. Any Alabamians out there that can help us out with some recommendations? I’m taking my camera and the laptop, so I’ll likely blog a bit along the way, treating it as a fact-finding mission. After all, remember my post, “Is Alabama really the worst place to be a gay person in Bush’s America?” It was about an Out Magazine article that asked that very question, called Unsweet Homo Alabama. A snippet:

My wife Kate, a native Alabamian, escaped from the nightmare, and even she couldn’t believe the depth of the hatred and homophobia exposed by this article, including the heinous statistic that 44% of gay Alabamians are physically beaten and assaulted — by their own family members. It’s truly upsetting, and depressing. You wish the queer community would just get the hell out of there, but as with all stories like this, there are those that still want to stay and fight for their rights. I would consider this an almost insurmountable mountain of intolerance that runs both deep and high — and all the way to the state house. Judge Roy Moore, famous for wanting to keep a gigantic slab of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, is planning to run for governor. He says some frightening things about gays in this story that make you wonder what could happen if he is elected — and he just may be.

Take a look at some of the comments that native Alabamians left about that article. They tell you all that you need to know about being gay there, but there’s nothing like going to see for yourself. Here are a couple of typical comments:

Thanks Bob Moser, and thanks also to Out Magazine — for exposing some of this shameful secret to those of us who live in our progressive bubbles far away from Alabama. Having both been born and raised there, we know first hand that it truly is the worst place in America to be gay. Sadly, at age 28 and 26 respectively, we saw no choice but to pack up and leave. Alabama has many, many good people who would never harm or bash or even hate us, but they too are terrified. They are afraid to speak out at the office water-cooler, or the PTA meetings, or the summertime backyard cookouts, or church potlucks. Those of us living elsewhere, in our safe bubbles, need to think up some clever way to help them find the tipping point. Perhaps one day it will be obscene to openly gay bash in Alabama — today it is perfectly acceptable behavior.


This is an awfull place to be gay, not mention being gay & black! Color should not be issue in humanity, just like gayness should not, but once you get to Alabama you better get use to it. Here you have:
1. straight people who don’t like gay people.
2. black people who don’t like gay people but like racist white people.
3. black closeted gays who like out gays, but hate out black gays.
4. racist white gays who don’t like black gays (& VICE VERSA!)
5. gays who feel they are going to hell for their sexuality but can’t stay out of the gay club.
6. & a large amount of married men (to women of course!) who can’t stay out of atlanta gay clubs.
This place is a huge mess. The only way this is going to get better is for gay people who are from Alabama to support GLBT groups, events, law firms & churches, moneywise in order for young teen gay youth to have a chance!

I’ll be back in the progressive bubble of Durham, NC Monday night (hopefully).

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding