The Sounds of Bluegrass

This past Monday a survey was released to the citizens of the state of Kentucky.  The Schapiro Group of Atlanta had interviewed 600 registered voters from across the state between November and December of 2010 on the subject of tolerance toward the LGBT community and discrimination.  It would appear that 83% of Kentucky residents say that LGBT people should be protected from discrimination in the workplace, in housing, and in public places.  You might need to read that sentence over again to make sure you read that number correctly… 83%.  If you’re like me, you probably wouldn’t think of a number that high for a state that has a “southern state” image to it.  But images can always be deceiving from both sides.  We must remember that Kentucky was the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln (and Jefferson Davis), and where Congressman Henry Clay was from… someone that my ancestry has a connection to.

But when it comes to gay rights, Kentucky usually isn’t at the forefront of the fight.  But then again… times are changing and so is the mindset of the nation… even if does seem a bit slow to us living in the moment.  The numbers were up 18-percentage points from a similar survey taken in 2004.  So technically by historical terms, the mindset of people are changing much quicker than they have over other things such as civil rights or women’s rights.  Could access to various media outlets and the internet be fueling this “rapid” change?  More than likely.  The more open and honest about who we are, the more people see that we are no different than they are.

So with these new survey results, does this mean that Kentucky will be a state that will be gay-friendly in the near future?  One can certainly hope so… and I know I’m not alone with that sentiment, but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to make such progress possible.  Despite the overall number showing improvement, it would seem (according to the survey) that only 70% would support equal legal protections for the LGBT-community… which is only up just 7%.  But the survey showed that these types of numbers weren’t just isolated to the major urban areas of Louisville and Lexington.  It was spread out across the state.  Now that is impressive within itself.  I know that Missouri wouldn’t have those kinds of numbers throughout the state… probably just in St. Louis, Kansas City, and possibly Columbia.

So Kentucky could be setting itself up ahead of the overall national curve.  The typical southern state is seen as something that is very anti-gay… with the exception of a few scattered urban areas.  The mere fact that the citizens of Kentucky are starting to realize that the LGBT-community shouldn’t be discriminated against is a big first step… even if it is only in the workplace, housing, and public places.  It’s a place to start and build upon.  And I, for one, applaud the people and the state of Kentucky for opening their minds and progressing forward, and I hope that they continue to do so.

It would be interesting if there were numbers from other southern states (Missouri included) that had been taken at the same time on the same issues so that we could see where Kentucky stood overall.  My guess, though, is that it would stand a few steps higher than most of them.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in A Psalm of Life, “Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labour and to wait.”  Though at times, progress might seem slow, we must continue to push forward and lead by example.  Patience is a virtue that we must hold to, as well.  The numbers out of Kentucky should give us all hope, not just those within the state, but we must also be mindful and not allow us to get ahead of ourselves.  We are only in the middle of this vast journey, and there is still plenty of work that needs to be done.  As time continues to move forward, the mindset of the people changes ever so slowly.  But with each step, we should celebrate the accomplishment and allow it to renew our energy and our drive for a better tomorrow.  So for the people of Kentucky, there is renewed hope and the start of a new tomorrow… and they continue to press on.

SIDENOTE: For those of you living in Kentucky, or even those of you who don’t, that are wishing to get involved or contribute in some way, look no farther than the Fairness Campaign.  I’m sure they’d be glad to hear from you.


One Response to The Sounds of Bluegrass

  1. Nothing much in the world is more soothing then sitting in a field plus listening to acoustic guitars, fiddles, mandolins, stand up basses, sweet vocals plus all the other sounds come along with Bluegrass.

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