A member of a local queer organization laughed in my face when I mentioned that I missed the my queer spaces back in Virginia. He encouraged me to explore the city and see some "non-redneck places" and that "everything will be better in the City."
I’m neither a native of Richmond nor New York. I grew up in a small Virginian mountain community before heading to the bigger cities for schooling. It took a few months in Richmond before I got degraded for my sexuality like being called a ‘fag.’ I recently moved to New York City and live in the East Village.
Within the first weeks in the city, I was called a ‘faggot’ more than once; I guess things just move quicker in New York? Surprisingly, the very first insult I faced in New York was directed at my seemingly ‘redneck and backwards upbringing.’ A member of a local queer organization laughed in my face when I mentioned that I missed the my queer spaces back in Virginia. He encouraged me to explore the city and see some “non-redneck places” and that “everything will be better in the City.”
These experiences have opened my eyes to the myth of LGBT politics and its neoliberal allies. I, now, live in New York, which is a state that protects LGBT workers, provides same-sex marriage, and instituted LGBT hate crime legislation. Yet, I still get called a ‘faggot’ as I walk to school. I still face sexism, ablism, racism, and heterosexism in this urban liberal environment. I still hear cases of suicide, discrimination, and objectification. Overall, it seems like New York faces the same grand problems as Virginia. I wonder where activists went wrong and what we should, could, would, and/or will have done.
I am not arguing that Richmond is an improvement over New York City because it is still rampant with its various -isms. However, the activists of Virginia have elected to first pursue workplace protections as its priorities versus marriage or hate crime laws. I hope this will be at least one neo-liberal law that will protect some of us.
If we do achieve this goal, I wonder where we go from there? What will create a safe, inclusive, queer, and liberate community for Richmonders, Virginians, and all?