essays, identity politics

Following Up: What’s Next? Queer Activism in the South

After hearing about the fake prom that Constance McMillen was sent to last week, I ranted a bit about what was next in that string of activsm. Many readers had fantastic comments and I want to highlight a couple here:

AllysonIvy said: “What can we do? Join in the movement that’s already happening. Work to get non-discrimination laws passed. ENDA would change so much on the federal level. My state (Tennessee) not only excludes LGBT people from protection against housing and employment discrimination, but has a Democratic candidate for governor who supports an adoption ban. We need federal protection, and we can all work for that. 150,000 people marched on Washington in October. Arrests were made recently when activists protested both DADT and ENDA in Washington. They were speaking up. We speak up in order to make a change. … We need to pay attention to her, sure.. but we also need to pay attention to DADT, DOMA, and ENDA. We need to pay attention to the fact that a man in Oklahoma who was denied the right to have a license plate that says “I’m Gay” was found dead a few weeks ago after having reported threats against his life. We need to pay attention to the fight for gay marriage in all states, not just California. … Southern queers are an amazing bunch. I can say with experience that we are strong as hell. We are strong as hell, and we fight hard. I welcome everyone to join us.”

Sarah quotes Izzy Pellegrine on Feministing: “My name is Izzy Pellegrine and I’m a founding member of the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, a group that has been working for two years to promote LGBT student rights in MS. MSSC has been working with Constance for months to help organize her fellow students and educate members of her community. We’re hosting our annual Second Chance Prom in her city and opening it up to all young people in the state. (And this is no seven person event!!) Check us out at

ayellowdog said: “we MUST be aggressive with the government – especially at the federal level. We must make sure that the government is not allowed to forget that there is a huge portion of the citizenry of this country that is not being treated equally and thus is always at risk. We must demand to have it made clear that the 14th amendment includes us too. Legislation for the protection of our rights is crucial, obviously, and we should all work in whatever way we can to make it happen as comprehensively and quickly as possible. However, we will never be able to legislate the opinions of others. Opinions must be swayed, nudged, gradually overcome by the opinion-holders themselves. And this kind of change can only occur if we are strong enough to live among those who think they fear and hate us, usually because they don’t know any better, to befriend them in spite of themselves, to share a common world with them, highlighting for them our common ground. Our (legitimate) defensive outrage at how we are allowed to be treated should be directed towards our elected officials. Everyone else should receive a genuine offer of friendship and goodwill.”

EliDeep recommended GetEqual (on Twitter at @getequal): “GetEqual was founded by Kip Williams and Robin McGehee, who both grew up in the South. Kip’s from Knoxville, and Robin is from Mississippi. I first heard Robin speak at the National Equality March in October. Her speech was the most touching to me because she told all us Southern queers that we weren’t forgotten. Often, the gay community writes off the South as a lost cause, and tells us to just move to more gay friendly places. This is NOT a solution.”

You can still contact the school superintendent and high school principal:
Itawamba County Schools Superintendent Teresa McNeece:, 662-862-2159 ext. 14
Itawamba Agricultural High School principal Trae Wiygul:, 662-862-3104

And a few more things:

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

6 thoughts on “Following Up: What’s Next? Queer Activism in the South”

  1. Jack says:

    >>we MUST be aggressive with the government – especially at the federal level.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Has government worked so far? No.

  2. Sabine says:

    "there is a huge portion of the citizenry of this country that is not being treated equally and thus is always at risk." Huge portion? There's very few lesbian people. Maybe 1 to 2 percent. That's even less then gays. :p lmao

  3. a. says:

    This isn't just about "lesbian people"!

  4. ayellowdog says:

    Thank you a. – that's exactly what I thought. And Jack, I basically agree with you – that's what the rest of what I said is addressing.

    Cheers all.

  5. Frances says:

    Oh Man, I can't stop, can't stop!! :)

    A) Screw the HRC and their non-trans including bourgeoisie problematic, non accountable bs.

    B) S.O.N.G., S.O.N.G., S.O.N.G.!! Much cooler org to donate to and become familiar with!!

    C)This is what happens when I forget to read Sugarbutch for a while and then catch up! :)

    D) Though we are smaller in numbers, Southern queers ARE fierce, and often friendly. It's a nice combo.

  6. amen, frances! song is one hell of an organization.

    sorry i'm so late to the party; i've been behind on my reading.

    i have so many things to say about this! about the south and politics and queerness, but i don't know how to start.

    i will say that there are a lot of good, smart people doing good, smart work here, and i think that everyone should care. i will never care about marriage rights in california (or anywhere!) like i care about the fact the a judge threw out the arkansas law against gay foster or adoptive parents. i know the fact that it passed in the first place makes the south a backwards wasteland, but i hope you understand that we are the first line of defense on utter lunacy like that (as we saw with the marriage stuff, it doesn't always stay here once it's started).

    i suppose i feel that it is a little bit harder to hang onto your privilege here and, thus, easier see the shit that really, really matters. (not that we don't have our share of the privileged gay movement as well.)

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