Thursday, July 9, 2015
Son of the South
I am a child of the South.
Born white in the latter half of the 20th century, my experience of the South was very different from that of many of my generation, many of my schoolmates, many of my sports teammates, many of my friends, many of my fellow Southerners. I didn't fully appreciate the vast dichotomy in our southern experience until it was explained to me by a dear friend when I deigned to compare her life experience as a woman of color to mine as a gay man.
"When you meet someone, they don't necessarily see that you're gay", she said, smiling.
"When I meet someone, they never stop seeing that I'm black."
In one eye-opening, Red Sea-parting, brilliantly illustrative moment, she upended my "comfortable truth". The clouds parted and the bright rays of real truth shone through.
When someone I value tells me that something I say or do or carry as a symbol of identity is offensive to them, I listen, I hear, I consider, and I act. What I do is more an indication of who I am than where I come from. No matter how proud the heritage, the symbols and creeds of the "Old South" offend people who matter to me. Therefore, they offend me.
I am a still child of the South. I hope that she can be proud of me.
But either way, I'm moving forward.