Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Hate from afar will get here

It has been a thoroughly depressing month since I last complained in these pages. While complaining is something I am both enthusiastic about, and rather good at, I prefer to not have to use my abilities when the real lives of our people are being affected in hideous, shitty ways.

By now North Carolina’s HB 2 law, a hastily drawn mishmash of bigoted words trying glibly to mask the professional prejudices of elected leaders, in particular Governor Pat McCrory, is now infamous. Its direct aim is at transgender people. And, on top of that, the state decided that no local governments may pass any protections for the LGBT community, which naturally robs us of the most amenable level of government when we gather in organized numbers.

Not to be outdone in the hate-stakes, Mississippi then went a step further and passed a hate law that didn’t even bother to stuff itself full of pro-donor fluff. It was just rabid detestation of other people, handing out invitations to anyone to screw with people, knowing the law would back them. Even by the low standards by which we judge the ability of Mississippi to turn hatefulness into law, this was an outstanding achievement.

We know this game. We know how it is played. We have been on the receiving end of the hate-brigade for so long that even our expectations for the people who “fight for us” are frightfully low (*cough Hillary Clinton cough*). But we shouldn’t think at all that this movement being started by North Carolina and Mississippi is going to be limited to those two states.

One of the fortunate aspects of living in Georgia is that while our governor is a conservative man, and we don’t see eye-to-eye on much, he governs like an adult. While that may be passing terrible laws maturely, it means that he vetoes bills that, like a phoenix, rise from the ashy grievances of people like state Senator Josh McKoon. The borders of our state, however, are not impervious to what the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi are beginning.

While we might approve of the backlash to North Carolina and Mississippi’s laws, do not think for one second that Pat McCrory and Phil Bryant aren’t giddy at the prospect of emboldening so many other people to harass those they don’t want in their state. Women who don’t look exactly how some people think they should are being pulled out of the lines for the restroom – in one clip a policeman asks a lesbian woman for ID so she can use the toilet, for no other reason than the copper thinks she didn’t look woman enough. Isn’t it just awesome that femininity is now governed by the responsible folks two states to the north?

Bryant and McCrory are getting what they want: the severe harassment of LGBT people around the country. They do not want us in their state or region, and they are empowering the people that hate us to come after us. They make it harder for us to find somewhere to live, they make it more difficult to hold a job, and now they don’t even want us to be able to use a public toilet.

And they have begun a wave of emboldened hatefulness that will not limit itself to their states. Beware, even in a state with a grown-up governor. The people who hate us have been encouraged to act.