The readings and discussion this week shed light on the migration of LGBTs to large urban areas. These people find it harder to express their ‘true self’ in rural areas where the repercussions from community members might be more harsh and backwards. In the United States, the percentage of people identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual sits at about 3.5%. But as you shift the focus to metropolitan cities within the US, there are 10 cities with above 7% and 5 cities with above 12%1. LGBT individuals may migrate to these areas in order to find social groups with similar beliefs. These groups form communities in the same way you see specific ethic neighborhoods developing within cities. The impact that these community of non-heterosexuals also appears to have effected other sexual identities within metro areas, as we have recently seen the proliferation of the term ‘metrosexual’ and shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Atlanta now represents a liberal, accepting safe haven in the south surrounded by the more stereotypical ‘south’. The influx from outside rural areas of those seeking groups of likeminded people would contribute greatly to the diverse we see in Atlanta today. In the same way Jewish communities have developed in the North Druid Hills neighborhoods, the areas of Midtown and Ansley Park have become ubiquitously known for their pro-LGBT opinions and population.
However, Atlanta must not have always been so accepting of this diversity. As such we would expect the discourse of sexual identity in Emory publications to be interesting. Emory was primarily a liberal arts school consisting of mainly regional students. Because these students hailed predominantly from the ‘south’, the overall opinions (possibly despite the education offered) must have aligned with that of the communities the students came from. As Emory transitioned into a nationally renowned intellectual and research center, this may have changed the way the university as a whole functioned with respect to the acknowledgement of sexual identity and fluidity.
I think it would be interesting to look further into the level and attitude of the sexual identity discourse at Emory, as well as throughout the entire Atlanta metro area, in response to the evolving identity of Emory as an institution. I believe the recruitment of liberal, intellectual minds from across vastly different parts of the world would correspond with an increased tolerance and discussion of such topics. Emory’s role at the frontline of the AIDS battle would most likely also cause a change in the way the gay community was regarded in Atlanta.
1) Gates, G. How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? (April 2011) The Williams Institute. http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf
Kien Bean: your intro analysis here is interesting and thoughtful but it needs to connect either to something you found in the archives or to one of the readings specifically. Some of what you talk about here gestures to Donna Jo Smith’s articled “Queering the South” and maybe even Johnson’s “Sweet Tea” but you don’t state that. Also your 3.5% LGBT folk in the United States in much lower than the common quoted 10%. An interesting discrepancy.