Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: LGBT Georgians learning to live in an ‘endless spring’

One of the only traits of spring that I enjoy is the onset of later daytime. I’m not a fan of daylight savings itself, the way it scrambles our circadian rhythm, but I appreciate not feeling like the day is virtually over when I leave work.

Otherwise, I can’t stand spring, for some popular reasons, such as having my sinuses assaulted by pollen, and for more personal annoyances that others consider profane, like the simultaneous blooming of dogs as everyone takes their pet outside to enjoy nice weather. Many dog owners assume their canine’s cuteness excuses them from exercising basic manners such as not letting their dog (and specifically their dog’s leash) take up three-quarters of a sidewalk, or assuming everyone they pass is comfortable being panhandled for affection.

But the most annoying part of spring has to be the bipolar weather – both daily and throughout the season: leaving for work wearing a sweater because it’s 30 degrees, then being drenched in perspiration by 80-degree afternoon heat; hopefully packing away your winter coat once the warm spells become routine in mid-March, then having to pull it out almost every weekend until May.

It’s hard to appreciate 8 p.m. daylight when it’s 45 degrees outside, but at least the shorter nights promise the coming of extended warmth.

There was a nippy breeze blowing through downtown Atlanta April 5, when hundreds of LGBT Georgians and allies rallied outside the state Capitol to thank Gov. Nathan Deal for vetoing the so-called “religious freedom” bill a few days earlier. The mood among the crowd was celebratory but vigilant, as everyone attending expects “religious freedom” legislation to re-surface next year, beginning the fight anew.

While the governor’s veto received much attention locally and nationally, there’s been little recognition that this is the third consecutive year when religion was pitted against LGBT rights in Georgia, and the third consecutive victory for the latter. Sure, the trend is more reflective of the shrewd leadership of those leading the fight against these proposals – harnessing the influence of big business, most notably Hollywood, and parlaying the woes of other states facing backlash – rather than a softening of conservative antipathy toward a group they have marginalized for decades.

Yet, success is worth celebrating, especially when it’s counterintuitive as “Gays” establishing a winning streak vs. “God” on what’s considered his home turf. We are years away from full security and equality for LGBT Georgians, but I wonder if we might have entered an endless spring.

There will likely always remain stubborn sputtering from a fading winter, but our current season is marked by stretches of warmer temperatures and blooming hopes. The light claims more of each day, and the night becomes less daunting as the length of darkness shortens.

An endless spring may be the best LGBT Georgians – or LGBT Americans – can hope for, as, despite the advancements in human and civil rights throughout U.S. history, no other marginalized group has ever been able to stow away their winter coats for good. The blizzards we have endured have been brutal – from being forced to live in the closet, to being portrayed as a threat to the American family, from being considered an abomination against God to being deemed unworthy of empathy, understanding or even existence – but it’s hard not to feel like the harshest weather has passed.