I applaud Bob Poe for supporting the equal rights for people of all sexual orientations  in Anchorage. Sometimes here in Alaska I feel like I have gotten in a time machine and gone back about thirty years. I found his opinion piece in the ADN very refreshing. It made me think it might be 2009 after all.
I support equal rights for all people. And I support banning discrimination in Anchorage due solely to someone's sexual orientation. I support a comprehensive equal rights ordinance because it's the right thing to do, period.

He discusses the  impact gays and lesbians have on the economic, safety and creative aspects of cities:

In the best-selling book, "The Rise of the Creative Class," Richard Florida points out successful, growing communities are places accepting of gay and lesbian people. Florida, originally a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has been studying successful and unsuccessful communities throughout his career. He combined his work with that of Gary Gates from UCLA, who co-authored the Gay and Lesbian Atlas. Their combined work developed a "gay index" that was strongly correlated with economically successful and growing communities. They weren't really looking to prove this concept; it is simply what the data showed.
They believe the more accepting a community is to new ideas, alternative lifestyles, new art and music, the more accepting it will be to the entrepreneurial geeks who have created companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and hundreds of other businesses.And communities that are open to progressive ways of thinking are measurably more attractive to the smart, well-educated workforce, particularly women. The logic goes, if a place is safe for gay men, it is a safe place for women.

In the 1970s I lived in the bay area of California. I decided to move to San Francisco as I had been spending a lot of time there working on social change projects, including gay rights and I wanted to enroll in San Francisco State. The project I was working on at the time took me into the part of the city where there were lots of gay, lesbian, and transvestite people. I came from a family with parents who were bigots, but I knew their thinking was wrong. I was open minded, yet, I had been isolated and never around people that were known to have a sexual orientation other than heterosexual. The project took me into an area of the city which is kind of rough called the tenderloin district. Whenever you are trying to make a change there are people who get angry. I was physically assaulted twice. Both times people just walked by and said or did nothing. Then, always running towards us gay men would appear and put an end to the assault. They usually slapped the guy around and told him he better not be seen in the area again. I have also seen them chase down purse snatchers and get purses back for women. This all happened while others acted like they did not even see what was going on. At that time the police were very corrupt and it could be a bad idea to even call them. The community looked out for everyone else, there were those who would perpetrate violence for hate just like there are now. I can't tell you how many times they prevented my being harmed by just giving someone a look or how many times someone said to me, "Are you OK ?"

When I decided to move to the city I wanted to live in the Castro District for the safety factor. I was use to being different so being the only straight person in the area was not a problem for me. My mother surprised me when she said she wanted to go with me to look at apartments. My parents were very suspect of those liberal friends I had and the projects we were working on. Ok, now I was going to a place where people could openly be who they were and now I had a bigot coming with me. Should I tell her my plan? No, this could be very entertaining. We drove around in my powder blue VW bug trying to find an apartment a college student making part time low wages could afford. Hey, I bet I was wearing polyester. We would go view an apartment and two men would come out of an apartment together to see if we needed any help or needed to use the phone. Some of them asked us in. My mother was very impressed with how nice they were and how well kept the area was. She was really praising two of them when I started to laugh, I had been having a hard time not cracking up most of the day because she was surrounded by gays and did not have a clue. "Mom, I'm glad you like these people so much because they are all gay" I finally told her. If you grew up in my family you would have known they hated gays and others for crazy reasons. But, the main reason was they had been taught to hate where they grew up in the deep south. They could not think any other way without some kind of enlightening experience. I never found an apartment I could afford in the Castro District, but I got something better. My mother stopped agreeing with my father's negative comments about gay people. Even my father can change, next to his girlfriend, now his favorite two people are my gay cousin and his partner. I don't know what changed him, but I expect it was his girlfriend.
Here is a play about Proposition 8 in California where they have another idea how the L/G/B/T community can improve the economy. Any play with Jack Black playing Jesus has to be good.:

1 comment:

Georgia Eliot said...

great piece Celia...with my mom I think the real light bulb was Ellen!
It's also great to see your blog grow and your voice get stronger! write on!