To counterbalance what I've been posting about what it can mean, concretely, to live openly as a gay person in a place like Arkansas, I want to take notice of this recent NPR video clip featuring the new head of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin. As this accompanying article from the Arkansas-based journal Oxford American notes, Griffin is from the small town of Arkadelphia in south Arkansas.
I take hope from the fact that someone from a small town in a bible-belt state that will, as Deron Dalton rightly notes, be one of the last states in the Union to accept marriage equality, can rise to the position of director of an important national gay-rights organization. It also gives me hope to think that Chad Griffin's experience growing up in a small town deep in the bible belt might give him and HRC a feel for gay youth in isolated, gay-fearing communities around the country. Those young folks need support. LGBT youth continue to represent a huge percentage of young folks living on the streets in the U.S.
And, as the week ends, another recent story that gives me hope things can get better for gay youth in this country: read Joel Diaz at Huffington Post about what happened recently in Columbus, Ohio, when a man began to harass him and a friend as they all waited in a line to buy pizza. As Diaz notes, the fact that straight allies of gay folks standing in the pizza line pushed back against against the man's homophobic invective provides hope: "It shows that the arc of the moral universe does bend towards justice and we are not alone in this struggle."
And this is a message I'd argue, as a new year begins, that gay or gender-questioning young folks very much need to hear.