Editorial: We are all responsible for each other

Last year about this time, I was plotting to kidnap a cat.

This cat was not my cat, but she had slipped in through the open cat door to my Candler Park apartment one evening, plopped down on the floor and pretty much let me know that, well, she was going to be spending the night there. She then hopped up on my tiny loveseat and squeezed in tight next to me. It was very sweet.

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But I did not want a cat. And, lucky for me, her tag said her name was Lacey and I learned from the neighbors she belonged to the family across the street. It was the perfect scenario. I could have a furry cuddle buddy but I didn’t have to worry about cat food, cat litter, vet bills or any other kind of commitment.

Lacey came and went as she pleased through the open cat door that remained open in case I locked myself out of my apartment. I had learned quickly by reaching through that cat door I could easily unlock my door from the inside and save myself embarrassing trips downstairs to my landlord to ask that he let me in.
Before Lacey jumped through that cat door into my apartment that fateful evening perhaps two years ago, we developed a pretty warm friendship. She would jump up on my car hood when I pulled along the curb on Elmira Street to park in front of the  home where my upstairs apartment was located. Or she would be lying in the middle of the road and I would have to steer around her. Or, at least once, she was  even lying against the curb in my spot, forcing me to get out of the car and ask her to please move.

And so I would pet her and talk to her and ask her about her day and warn her about running into traffic. She would answer by purring. Then I would walk up to my apartment, alone, and flip on the TV and open my laptop and while away hours reading, working and trying to come up with witty Facebook status updates.

When Lacey decided months later to take those extra steps and walk up the stairs and through the cat door into my apartment, she broke a barrier that needed to be broken ― I was lonely and now I had a companion. Dammit if I didn’t even start buying cat food. This cat who was not my cat soon became my cat.

My life changed dramatically while Lacey lived with me. I met a wonderful woman and began spending more and more nights at her home, leaving Lacey alone. I also found out that Lacey’s owners moved and simply left her behind. My new landlords loved her, but their son was allergic so Lacey wasn’t allowed inside and although I left the cat door open to my apartment, they told me Lacey was lonely and cold and stayed on their porch looking for companionship. And then one chilly night in December, my landlord called to say they were going out of town and were very worried about Lacey and would I be checking on her.

Ugh. This was not my cat! I thought for a moment. But deep down I knew otherwise and Kathleen and I planned a late-night “cat-napping” and rescued her to the suburbs where I had been staying and where she has lived for just about a year now. Longer than me actually. I officially moved in with Kathleen in June and now we have a family of four cats. A little bit cat-ladyish, but still manageable. At least I hope.

So as I reflect back on this “cat-napping” a year ago and look over 2013 and see all the changes ― in our world, our country, our movement, our lives and at the GA Voice ― I repeat to myself you have to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

I never thought I would ever own another cat. But Lacey had other ideas. I never thought I could be the editor of an LGBT newspaper in Atlanta ― the GA Voice, a newspaper where I’ve worked for more than three years and deeply respect ― but here I am, so excited and thrilled with the opportunities before me and before all of us.

Everyone has been ringing the death knell of print media for years, and, yes, it’s true it’s taken on some serious shrapnel and mortal wounds. But print media won’t lay down and die because we are the best at what we do, we have ethical standards, the staff to do in-depth original reporting and accuracy is of utmost importance to us. We are here to inform and educate and entertain and, most important, to be the voice for those who don’t normally have a voice. That has been true and will remain true moving forward.

I envision a newspaper where queer radicals will look on our website or in our newspaper and see themselves reflected while HRC Federal Club members will also see themselves in our pages. And not only that, that each community and all the communities within the LGBTQ-etc. acronym will see themselves and learn about others. And, to put this out in the universe, I hope we’ll all find a way to come together to continue this fight for equality.

Because when it comes down to it, many people hate all of us, from trans queers with multi-colored mohawks to straight-looking corporate gay men, because of one basic reason ― we love people of the same sex or those who don’t fit in with mainstream society’s accepted gender binary of male and female. And because of who we love, we also fall outside society’s accepted standard of what gender is supposed to be.

People from all sides of this LGBTQ acronym may think we aren’t responsible for each other, that their fight is not our fight, that we don’t have to care for them because they are not like us.

It’s too late, though. We’ve all come in through the cat door and we can no more force each other out and leave each other standing in the cold, wet rain than we can do so to a lonely cat whose family abandoned it.

We are all a family and my hope is the GA Voice will become a community newspaper for each of us to find out what’s happening in our bars and clubs, read about interesting people, find out more about what’s happening under the Gold Dome, learn how national events affect our lives in Georgia and, most importantly, help us continue to win the fight for equality.

But, please, I will not being adopting any more cats, so don’t even ask.