Saturday, April 27, 2013

Home is where the ♥ Is?

When asked to define the concept of "home," a wise friend once told me:

      "Home is where you feel the most comfortable going to the bathroom."

And to this day, I feel like his definition of home is the most accurate one I've heard.
Is home my apartment? My parents' house? A hotel? 
Now before you go and think I'm completely crazy, the idea behind this post came up after I read an article on CNN describing The County where No One's Gay, by John D. Sutter. In this article, Mr. Sutter goes to Franklin County, Mississippi, to see if in fact, the census is correct in stating that there are no gay people living there. What he writes in his article both intrigues and astounds me--and raises the age-old question that seems incredibly difficult to answer: Just what is a home?

I was not surprised to find out that there are, in fact, gays living in Franklin County, and that these people have been the recipients of harsh discrimination based on the ignorance and intolerance of their community. I was, however, completely surprised and downright confused when I read that these very people, whom have been called "fags" and have had their property vandalized for no reason other than they prefer to have relationships with people of their own gender, still continue to love their small town home and that they can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else. Um, what?

"This is my home and I'm not going anywhere. You couldn't get me out of this county," says a gay person that Mr. Sutter interviews. Another gay person states, "I stay here because I love my little's beautiful here, I have my store and a garden. You learn to be tough here--you really do." Yes, tough means getting beaten up by family members for reading Shakespeare instead of hunting. Tough means getting used to being called a "fag" by young children in the neighborhood. Tough means tolerating verbal abuse from your co-workers and boss who call you "cat licker" and "carpet muncher." Tough means being consigned to live and die alone because you are afraid of how your business might suffer if your neighbors and patrons see you openly embracing your sexual orientation. Yes, I can certainly see how Franklin County would make you tough. But the source of my confusion is this: how can a gay person call this town "home," when it is a place that just barely tolerates them? How can a gay person want to make a "home" in a town where you cannot live with a partner for fear of persecution? 

I for one, would not be able to do it. I would not feel at home in this town if I was gay. Sure, maybe there's no actual violence--no lynching, no bombings, no bricks thrown into houses through the windows. But isn't verbal and emotional abuse at school and at work enough to make these people stand back and ask "what if there's someplace better?" "How could a place like this be my home?"

For me, home is a place where I feel safe, comfortable, and uninhibited. Getting used to being called a "fag" would not make me feel any of those things. Maybe it's because the gay people in Franklin County don't know that there are places more welcoming to homosexuals than their little town. Maybe they're unable to finance a move. Either way though, I just can't seem to understand how they could love this place and call it their home. What are your thoughts?


  1. "Home is where you feel the most comfortable going to the bathroom."
    Haha, good one, and very accurate.

    Hmm, that's a tough question. I speculate that a sense of dignity may have something to do with it. If they rolled up their belongings and just moved whenever circumstances pushed them to, then they may never really feel at home. I once read that true safety only exists in the mind, and I think that's true and applies here to a good extent. There is a small sense of triumph derived from having carved a niche for themselves against all odds, and they will lose that pride if they succumbed to the very thing discrimination wills for.

    But I maybe colouring a picture too rosy, it could just be just as you said – they can't finance the move, and therefore they comfort themselves by calling it home.

    Very thoughtful piece you have here Wind, I appreciate your discussion!! It's very interesting.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed the discussion :)

      I like your argument about the dignity aspect of having made a small victory by surviving and living in a town where almost no one is like you. And I guess the guy who said that living in Franklin County made him "tough," took a certain pride to it. But the guy who owns the store--he's sacrificing a huge part of himself by not being able to co-inhabit with someone that he cares about simply because he's gay and is afraid of what it might do to his business. I guess that says a lot about his priorities, but I'm still personally incredulous at how he could be "proud" of his town, especially since they are clearly not as welcoming as he'd like them to be (ie. given a choice I'd say he probably would like to live with a partner if it didn't hurt his business).

      There's a larger dialogue at large, and after reading another article on CNN:

      about how the arguments against gays and gay marriage has shifted from "gays are preverse" to "it's not you, it's us (straight people)," I can only hope that eventually people will stop such a foolish discrimination.