Growing up in the south, liberalism has always felt like an identity that I’ve needed to explain to others instead of having it be an accepted part of what makes me who I am.
See, I grew up in the “liberal safe haven” that is Davidson, North Carolina. My small town was comprised of gender-neutral bathrooms (even during the House Bill 2 scare), organic coffee shops, and rainbow flags that decorated my neighbor’s house.
However, if I were to drive less than half a mile past the town limits, I would be encroached upon by confederate flags and "Trump 2016" bumper stickers. Even in my own family stood the regular church-going, Republicans.
Thus, I developed a hidden identity, a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” mindset due to being blue in an overwhelmingly red state and blue in a red household.
When identifying as a liberal in the South, you’re confronted with the constant reminder that you don’t quite fit in.
“On a daily basis, liberals who have made homes, formed friendships, and participated in the civic life of conservative towns and cities are confronted with unsettling reminders that they’re different, and they’ve found myriad ways to take that truth in stride.”
Since I’m part of the minority, most of my friends were naturally part of the majority. Sure, we still fulfilled that stereotypical “teenager” role of shopping or watching sub-par romantic comedies together, but when it came to anything substantive, that is where I always felt a sense of ostracism from the place in which I grew up.
By surrounding myself with those whose values and lifestyles were so different from mine, home always had a slightly different connotation to me.
“We are constantly reminded [that] we aren’t quite like everyone else: from the churches we do or don’t attend to our purchases and media preferences, to our loyalties at the ballot box”
Your home never truly feels like home because you’re frequently reminded about all of the ways that you’re different from your neighbors. While I still am blue in a red state, I stand as this purple color—a mix of my identity and what I silence in order to acclimate myself to the society in which I live.
Yes, I still love my family, friends, and that “small town southern charm,” but moving to college, I find comfort in being around those who respect and encourage my thoughts and beliefs.