Scared to move to Tennessee Because I'm gay

I Was Scared To Move To Tennessee Because I'm Gay, But I Was Pleasantly Surprised

Queer is everywhere.

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Growing up in Apex, North Carolina, I pretty much knew what it was like to be raised in the south. I also knew what it was like to grow up gay in the south. Lucky for me, the few places I've lived in North Carolina have been very accepting. With all this being said, I was a little worried to move to Good Ole' Knoxville, Tennessee after graduation.

I am attending graduate school at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville starting this fall and I could not be more excited! I moved at the end of July and have been settling in ever since.

I was slightly nervous to make the move because Tennessee is very different from North Carolina, especially when it comes to the political climate and progressive views. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to be out and proud like I was used to. I was nervous I would be surrounded by a bunch of bigots that made me uncomfortable. I didn't know if I was going to meet many other queer people. And I was scared that I might not feel safe at times.

After being here for a few weeks and starting my job, I've been pleasantly surprised that a lot of my worries did not come true. I am privileged in many ways and one of those ways is the way I look in regards to my identity. I do not look like a stereotypical gay woman. I am very feminine and most people assume I'm straight until they find out otherwise.

However, I do have my fair share of accessories or things that show off my gayness that I wear and use on a daily basis. One of these being my very favorite Pride Apple Watch Band. I have never been nervous to wear or show off these things so when I moved to Knoxville, I decided I would go into things with the same mindset. To my surprise, I still received compliments on these accessories and even though I was worried, I did not receive any negative attention for these things!

Overhearing racist, homophobic, xenophobic, discriminatory, or just plain ignorant conversations and ~politely~ interrupting to correct whatever is happening is a favorite past time of mine. But I was nervous to keep up this hobby in Tennessee because I knew that people had different or stronger opinions than those in North Carolina. Although the country accents are stronger and diversity is lacking in many places, I have not been overwhelmed with bigotry (yet) during my time in Knoxville. This has been really nice because I was honestly worried that I would be surrounded by ignorance and not be able to handle it. Although hate and ignorance exist everywhere, I'm thankful it is not as common as I thought.

Probably the best surprise that I've come across is that queer people are everywhere! Yes, I knew this. But I honestly thought that other gay people would be really hard to find and that it would take time for me to grow my new LGBTQ+ community. Well, I was definitely wrong. I have already interacted with so many amazing people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community and it has made me feel so at home. I'm excited about all the other queer cuties I will meet in my time in Knoxville!

Safety is an issue everywhere you go. There were times when I did not feel safe in North Carolina. And it is 2018 and our Political climate is not ideal for any marginalized group. So when I was moved to Tennessee all by myself without really knowing anyone, I was worried for my safety a little. Although I haven't been here too long and violence can happen anywhere, I have noticed that I haven't been suffocated with anxiety when I go out at night or go to a new place. This has been really nice because I don't ever want my fear to hold me back while I'm here.

All in all, Knoxville, Tennessee has done a good job at making me feel accepted and at home. I cannot wait for my two years full of adventure here and I hope it is packed with as many queer things as possible!

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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