You can go home again.Kevin Snow is on his knees, "rolling quarters," as he puts it, to come up with enough money to make it through the month. "We're all on the margins right now," he says, laughing, "but it sure as hell was worth it to get here. I wouldn't take back what happened for anything in the world."
What happened was an outpouring of support for gay visibility in Birmingham, Ala., just when that city seemed the least likely place for it in the country. The incident points up something gay men and lesbians are learning all across the country: Rather than flee to a place that's known for being gay-friendly, sometimes it pays to dig in to cover by digging; as, to dig in manure s>.
To entrench oneself so as to give stronger resistance; - used of warfare or negotiating situations.
See also: Dig Dig your heels and find community at home. You just might be surprised at how much of it there already is.
Birmingham's gay identity crisis started when the city's ABC ABC
in full American Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. television network. It began when the expanding national radio network NBC split into the separate Red and Blue networks in 1928. network affiliate announced that it would not air the now-famous coming-out episode of Ellen--the only station in the country to refuse to do so. For that hour, the network feed would be blocked, declared representatives of Birmingham's Channel 33/40, saying the sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. of both real-life Ellen DeGeneres Ellen Lee DeGeneres (born January 26, 1958) is an American stand-up comedian, actress, and currently the Emmy Award-winning host of the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
DeGeneres has hosted both the Academy Awards and the Primetime Emmys. and the character she plays on her TV series was too much for Birmingham's Christian, family-oriented viewers.
In response Snow, who is the vice president and entertainment chairman of Birmingham Pride Birmingham Pride is a weekend-long gay and lesbian festival held annually in the Gay Village, Hurst Street, Birmingham, England, over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Alabama, a gay political and cultural group, decided to find a theater that would let him run a satellite-feed broadcast of the Ellen episode to a live audience. The old downtown Boutwell Auditorium said yes, and on the night of the broadcast more than 2,500 people jammed the hall not only to watch the show but also to listen to a series of speakers and entertainers tell them that gay men and lesbians in Birmingham are not going to be invisible anymore.
"I've lived here all my life," says Cathy Belue, a registered nurse and aspiring stand-up stand·up or stand-up
1. Standing erect; upright: a standup collar.
2. Taken, done, or used while standing: a standup supper; a standup bar. comic who joined Snow and others in organizing the event with help from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a national media watchdog group. "And I saw people at the Boutwell Auditorium that I never would have thought I'd see. It gave me a lot of pride in my community as well as in myself. It made me think this wasn't such a bad place to live after all."
Is this the new face of the South? Snow, whose family in the vicinity reaches back eight generations, doesn't think so. "It is the true face of the South," he says. "We have always been portrayed as being culturally intolerant, but here in Birmingham we've had things like gay parades and the annual Apollo drag ball Drag Ball St. Louis was created by Khrystal Leight, a zaftig Bette Midler impersonator from St. Louis, to entertain and raise awareness of the artform of female impersonation in local and regional college campuses throughout the Midwest. for years without an incident. I think what is happening instead is that we're finally coming more into focus."
But that focus, while spiritually stimulating, has also been--at least temporarily--expensive. Tickets to the Boutwell coming-out event brought in at least $12,000 for Birmingham Pride Alabama. But the rent for the auditorium, police protection, projector, and 25foot screen came to more than $15,000. "So we're in debt," says Snow, shrugging. "It was worth it."
Other gay and lesbian activists in Birmingham are similarly buoyant. "Who would have thought that even here gay and lesbian people could take a stand and not suffer recriminations?" ponders Shirley Lambert, a leader in the local gay-friendly Covenant Metropolitan Community Church. "But we have, and I think this might be the beginning of a new era for us."
Mark Moore Mark Moore (born March 10 1964, in London) is a British dance music record producer and DJ. He was founder of the pop band S'Express, and runs the London nightclub night " Electrogogo". , associate editor of The Alabama Forum, Birmingham's gay newspaper, agrees: "People here are real excited right now. I just hope we can accomplish other things too."
Tucked in a winding valley between two mountain chains, Birmingham has in the past been home to legendary struggles for human rights. It was here, in 1963, that white segregationists bombed a black church, killing four girls--and here also that Martin Luther King Jr. penned his famous paean Paean (pē`ən), Paean was an epithet for Apollo, the healer. The paean, a hymn of praise to Apollo and often to other gods, was sung as a prayer for safety or deliverance at battles and other important occasions. to nonviolence, "Letter From a Birmingham Jail, " the same year.
In the years since the 1960s civil rights confrontations, Birmingham has more often than not been a city of two halves. It is divided by two congressional districts: one largely white, conservative, and located to the outside of the city; the other mostly black, liberal, and urban.
It is also a city smack in the middle "Smack in the Middle" is a first-season episode of Batman. It first aired on ABC January 13, 1966 as the second episode of the series, and was repeated on August 25, 1966 and April 6, 1967. of a powerful evangelical tradition. This spring, when a circuit court judge in Gadsden, some 60 miles to the northeast of Birmingham, refused to bow to pressure to take down from his courtroom wall a sign bearing the Ten Commandments Ten Commandments or Decalogue [Gr.,=ten words], in the Bible, the summary of divine law given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They have a paramount place in the ethical system in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. , the local religious community--more than 20,000 people--rallied to his defense.
"That is the South--I don't care
"Don't Care" is a 1994 (see 1994 in music) single by American death metal band Obituary. if you want to call it new or old, but that is the South too," maintains the Rev. Raymond Culpepper, pastor of the 1,800-member Metropolitan Church of God, whose congregation's numbers dwarf Covenant Metropolitan's 150. "The new South that gays and lesbians would like to see will never happen because there are so many more of us who feel otherwise," adds Culpepper, whose church conducts an outreach program to people he calls "sexually broken," which, he says, includes gay men and lesbians.
Equally problematic are the schisms that naturally exist in any city with a diverse population, such as Birmingham has today. "Everything here is divided," says Steve Haberly, a professor of political science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham UAB began in 1936 as the Birmingham Extension Center of the University of Alabama. Because of the rapid growth of the Birmingham area, it was decided that an extension program for students who had difficulties which prevented them from studying in Tuscaloosa was needed. . "White gays and lesbians live on the white side of the town...black gays and lesbians are still pretty much segregated."
Moore, who is black, agrees: "The black and the gay communities are not united. There is segregation everywhere, between men and women, gays and straights as well as blacks and whites. So it makes it difficult to build coalitions."
Yet despite the obvious obstacles, many gay and lesbian activists believe a new day has arrived in Birmingham--more accurately, that it arrived years ago but came to a splendid boil with the local blacking-out of the Ellen episode. And the turnout at the Boutwell Auditorium, they say, is proof that gay men and lesbians here will never turn back. "There were so many people who came out," Lambert says. "And not only gays and lesbians but a good number of heterosexuals too--couples with children, people from all walks of life."
In the wake of the Boutwell blowout, activists here say they would like to see the gay and lesbian community become more political, endorsing gay-friendly candidates for public office or even running their own candidates. Birmingham mayor Richard Arrington, who is black, not only had the temerity te·mer·i·ty
Foolhardy disregard of danger; recklessness.
[Middle English temerite, from Old French, from Latin temerit to make available a city building for a local AIDS treatment and care program but also has attended gay and lesbian community events, stressing the need for diversity.
"Politicians around here are still not brave enough to come out and say they are pro-gay," says Moore, "but they will say something like they are diversity-loving or nondiscriminatory, which is a step in the right direction."
Snow hopes the new buoyancy in Birmingham will spill over Verb 1. spill over - overflow with a certain feeling; "The children bubbled over with joy"; "My boss was bubbling over with anger"
bubble over, overflow
seethe, boil - be in an agitated emotional state; "The customer was seething with anger"
2. to the annual gay pride parade A gay pride parade or LGBT pride parade is part of a festival or ceremony held by the LGBT community of a city to commemorate the struggle for LGBT rights and pride. and festival. "I hope we can keep the energy in overdrive," he says, "and have the best--and best-attended--pride event ever."
The momentum should also come in handy Verb 1. come in handy - be useful for a certain purpose
be - have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun); "John is rich"; "This is not a good answer" in paying off the debt incurred to air the Ellen show--a debt Snow regards as a promising investment in Birmingham's future. "I've lived in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , and New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of ," says Snow, "but in the end I wanted to come home. And I'm really glad I did."
RELATED ARTICLE: You can go home again Building a community
There's no sign in the window of Boise, Ida.'s new gay community center. No rainbow flag rainbow flag rainbow n → Regenbogenfahne f or -flagge f , And it's open by appointment only.
But it's a start. It's also part of a growing trend, according to Ben Stilp, a spokesman for the New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. Instead of moving to gay meccas such as San Francisco or New York, gay men and lesbians across the country apparently are deciding to stay put and build their own communities--with gay centers at the heart--even though the going is sometimes tough.
In San Francisco, for instance, support for a new $5.5-million gay community center extends to the most influential power brokers in city hall. By contrast, the Boise center's rent runs about $5,000 a year, and the seven board members organizing the effort are simply hoping they get enough community support to keep the place open longer than a year.
"It will be either a matter of continuing or saying the community isn't ready for a center and packing up and leaving," says Al Dawson, assistant chairman of Community Center Inc., the corporation founded to assist in the development of the Boise center. Right now, Dawson says, they're proceeding very slowly and very, very carefully.
But at least the center is open. And that's saying a lot. For more than two years, the center, which serves the entire state of Idaho as well as eastern Oregon, has consisted of a single telephone line that rings into Dawson's home. Now it has a physical home. Dawson envisions a place where people can go to check out a book, play a game, hold a meeting, or just hang out. "It will allow people who come to be who they are, " Dawson says. "It will be an open forum for people to be themselves."
Stilp says that's exactly what gay centers are all about: creating havens where community members can gather. That's even more important, of course, in places where gay men and lesbians feel most threatened. Since the nation's first gay community center opened, in 1971, on average one to five centers have opened each year. Today, there are some 76 lesbian and gay centers and center-organizing committees throughout the country, including some in such relatively remote places as Caribou Caribou, town, United States
Caribou (kâr`ĭb), town (1990 pop. 9,415), Aroostook co., NE Maine, on the Aroostook River; inc. 1859. , Me., and Scottsbluff, Neb. "Local organizations are really critical to our survival," says Stilp. "Gay people are born into isolation. It's incumbent upon us to organize into a community and to create a safe place."