Living in the South as a LGBT individual has many challenges. Here is the reality of how one gay man handled growing up in the South.
“I learned to counter homophobia with my carrying of a pocket knife I regularly sharpen on a whetstone. I learned also to counter the general melancholy that can pervade the life of a subaltern gay man with the arts.” (1)
Let’s look more specifically at the nature of these challenges.
Lack of Social Acceptance
First and foremost is a lack of social acceptance. The South has a social climate index score of 55, the lowest regional score in the country.
Another challenge is insurance. Southern LGBT individuals have the lowest insurance rates in the country, with nearly one in four lacking insurance. Also, the average household income is $11,000 lower for same-sex couples raising children than their different-sex counterparts. (2)
The Anti-LGBT Law in North Carolina
Adding to these challenges, North Carolina just passed an anti-LGBT law. This bill “is a wide-ranging measure that blocks local governments from passing laws protecting LGBT people, requires schools to designate single-sex bathrooms based on ‘biological sex’ and preempts city policies involving wages, benefits and other workplace regulations.” (3)
What does all this mean for the LGBT community?
There is a lack of tolerance for this segment of the population. According to Michaelangelo Signorile, the editor-at-large for the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section, four of the five worst states for the LGBT community are in the South. They are: Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana. For these states, as an example, only 32% of people believe in the freedom to marry. (4)
Dealing with Pressure the Wrong Way
The pressure to fit in is great but the resistance is even greater. How is this strong undercurrent of suppression showing up today? We are finding that many LGBT individuals are trying to escape the pressures by drinking themselves blind. This is a significant problem that needs attention. The plight of alcoholism is real for this group.
The long term goal is social and economic parity. One piece of good news is that there is an increased amount of public focus that has begun to shift toward the South and the expansion of acceptance and rights for LGBT people in the region. (2)
Dealing with Pressure the Right Way
In the meantime, resources need to be made available to this population. They need to know there is a better alternative than turning to alcohol. One such resource is treatment centers. La Fuente, for example, specializes in treating LGBT individuals.
You can learn more about our center by calling us at 1.888.903.9898. We can only imagine how strong the pull is to be able to numb the feelings of hurt, discrimination, etc. with the use of alcohol. But without some type of intervention this region of the country could have an added social epidemic – excessive rates of alcoholism among the LGBT community.