In the late 90’s I saw the Indigo Girls play at Riverbend. I’ve never been one for crowds in general, much less the kind of 600,000 strong crowds Chattanooga’s nine-day music festival can draw. But if the feminist-iconic duo could brave the prince of darkness, then I could brave thousands of beer drinking, country music-loving Tennesseans.
Stacy and I even arrived early to get seats near the stage. As we waited for the show to start, the older man behind us asked his wife, “which band’s aplayin’?” And she answered, “it’s them lesbians.”
As worldly early-twenty-somethings, Stacy and I rolled our eyes at their accents and ignorance. The Indigo Girls were more than the sum of their sexual desires, after all.
But here’s the thing I’m thinking about today: the couple stayed to enjoy the show. It was easy enough to judge the couple behind us. We lived in a small city that often behaved as a small town, in the almost-deep south, at a time when anti-feminist, anti-civil rights, anti-environmentalists Jesse Helms and Rush Limbaugh stood for everything we didn’t like about the world we lived in. Voices like theirs were so loud that we could hear them reverberating through all of the southern accents around us.
But the couple behind us came to the festival lugging their lawn chairs through the crowds and waited, like us, for hours in the humidity-drenched summer heat to see the show. Even though them lesbians were playing. So in lamenting the bigotry in the seats behind me, maybe I was the judgmental one. Because the couple behind us clapped along with the rest of us. Maybe what I heard as a judgement – them lesbians – was just what it was: he asked which band was up and she described the band. Not thoughtfully, or with people first language. But her answer was the end of the conversation. Having identified the band, their talk turned to other subjects. As did ours.
All this to say it’s easy enough to respect our differences, whether those differences are in accents or sexual orientation. We got this, y’all.
So here’s to SCOTUS’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
What should we talk about next?