© Kristen Becker.
Used by permission.
All rights reserved.
**Disclaimer: I speak for a living, not write. READ: grammar be damned**
Some of you know my background. For those of you who don’t, I’ll summarize. I was born in Buffalo, NY and around the age of ten my family moved to Shreveport, La. Summers were spent driving through Kentucky (always staying in Elizabethtown — it’s the halfway point and the motels are clean) on our way north to see friends and family. I was schooled in Louisiana, in many ways. Half my life in Buffalo half of my life in Shreveport. Also, I’m gay. I was then. I am now.
I love them both equally. Unfortunately only one reciprocates the equality in their laws, so I live in Buffalo. The problem is, I miss Louisiana.
Here’s the thing: the Louisiana I know, the people I know intimately in every corner of the state (I lived in Shreveport, Natchitoches, Lake Charles, New Orleans and spent good chunks in Lafayette) could care less if I was gay. All of them. I dare say I was popular with some folk. This was before Ellen and before I told jokes on stage. I was a restaurant manager, who was clearly gay, and some of my best friends were rednecks.
I took a trip to Louisiana recently to remember all of who I am, and in my travels saw so many things that made me fall in love with Louisiana all over again. Grown up love. Not “I love parades” love.
I realized I grew up in a place with minimal to no residential zoning laws. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, if the guy who buys the lot next to you can only afford a trailer, it’s his right to put a trailer there. As backwards as many of my “Yankee” friends would say this is, I know now that taught me that your neighbor is your neighbor, no matter the size of their wallet. So simple.
I had the fortune of a few skiff rides in the bayous south of Baton Rouge and was fascinated with the cypress trees. Again, I’m familiar with them, but this time all I could do was look at their differences. They are like snowflakes, no two are alike on the outside but they are made of the same carbon, hydrogen, phosphorous etc. Louisianans celebrate individuality. Uniqueness. It’s in the fabric of the land
In a nation with states passing laws to make English the only language, Louisiana boasts two languages and Gawd knows how many dialects of Creole. Louisiana’s welcome sign reads: “Bienvenue en Louisiane” in French on the welcome sign? As far as languages go, I think we can all agree French is pretty gay. Pimp.
Baptists live in the north and the middle, Catholics live in the south and Voodoo can happen anywhere below I-10. Girls Softball is a big deal, because daddies aren’t going to bitch about not having a son when they can watch their daughters kick ass. Louisiana has had a female governor and currently has a governor who is the son of immigrant parents from India. That is pretty forward thinking, even if he is Republican. Sure, maybe you can’t buy beer before noon in some parts of the state, but you can drink it in the streets all night in others. Civilized.
Folks from Louisiana don’t move elsewhere often. They understand what it means to be from somewhere. If there is a hurricane, you rebuild. If there is a flood, you rebuild. You don’t run away from a problem. You fix it. This also makes it difficult to find authentic representations of Louisiana elsewhere. Gumbo isn’t a chicken wing. I love wings, but tons of people have left Buffalo and brought that tradition to the masses.
The idea of moving because of weather is ludicrous to Louisianans no matter how many times someone says, “Why do you live in a flood zone?” How can these same people think a gay person should have to move elsewhere, away from their families, in order to be protected by their state or country?
The Louisiana I know loves me as an equal, practices the concept of equality in its culture and revels in individuality. Louisiana has the Independence Bowl, for crying out loud. Louisiana is not Alabama, or Mississippi or Texas. It is the place where those places go to have fun. I am not asking anyone to change their religious beliefs. I am just asking every Louisianan to consider having to move, because of who they love. To be asked to leave behind bayous, Mardi Gras breaks and crawfish boils, because of who they love. To miss out on nieces softball games and Saturday night gumbo and LSU with high school friends, or have your kids grow up not knowing the history of a doubloon, because of who they love. You see, you can’t duplicate Louisiana. This is why Louisianans more than anyone, with their understanding of religious, ethnic and cultural diversity should lead the south into the future as a Union, with Justice and Confidence.
Text prepared by:
- Bruce R. Magee
Becker, Kristen. “My Letter to the Louisiana I Love.” Kristen Becker. 4 Dec 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. <http:// kristen becker. com/ 2014/04/22/ accidental-activist/>. © Kristen Becker. Used by permission. All rights reserved.