Last month, I was cast as an "empowerment sister" — and not identified by name — in Creative Loafing's cover story, "Southern Fried Pride." I was extremely offended and embarrassed by the way I was represented.
I was given every reason to think that the sole purpose of the article was to defuse stereotypes about the LGBT community — to let people know that we have standards, jobs and families, that as a large demographic of this city we contribute hugely to commerce, funding, arts and politics, and that ... we are human.
Instead, Creative Loafing took out the human element and gave thousands of readers reason to discard us, ignore us and most painfully, not take the LGBT community seriously.
My specific issue with this? I have no idea what an "empowerment sister" would do, say, eat, drink, read; I only know what I would. What Creative Loafing did with each "character" in the story — published the week before one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country — was turn him or her into a freak show. In my case, what Creative Loafing came up with is a stereotype, a fraud, a laughable mamie.
I couldn't imagine that Creative Loafing would want people who are leery or unfamiliar about homosexuality to think we may show up at their door hopping out of a pick-up in some ludicrous costume, spewing lines from a dusty poetry book, ranting loose politics, locking the TV on Lifetime, turning into alcohol/sex-a-holics at midnight or the drop of any house song or Beyoncé remix.
Have you ever been kicked out of an apartment for being gay? How 'bout fired from a job? Have you ever been outed by a co-worker in the lunchroom? Whispered about between cubes as you pass by your co-workers? Passed up for a promotion for being gay, maybe?
Ever been harassed by the police? Touched inappropriately?
What about suicide? Ever want to commit suicide because you can't grasp why you're in love with the same sex and everything in the secular world says you're "wrong"?
Have you ever overcome these things? Have you ever had hope? Found love? Rejoiced in connecting with others who are like-minded?
I, and I'm sure hundreds of thousands of other members of the gay community, have.
This is what gay pride weekend is about — a safe space to be open and enjoy our culture without fear of intrusion. You would think that, as a media outlet, a venue supposedly for clarity and empowerment, Creative Loafing would highlight actual people who make up one of the largest LGBT communities in the world.
Instead, this article closed off any open communication one might have wanted to instigate.
I am an internationally award-winning poet, musician, mother, political activist, author, animal lover, dog rescuer, humanitarian, businesswoman and free spirit who is open about loving women. That didn't get published any where in the article.
Most importantly, I am human.