Bil Browning

An Open Letter to Indiana from a Hoosier Expatriate

Filed By Bil Browning | February 23, 2012 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: anti-gay policies, brain drain, Hoosier expatriate, Indiana, open letter, political homophobia

Dear Indiana,

While a lot of people tend to think of you as nothing more than corn and hog farms, I've always been proud of my Hoosier heritage. I've extolled the virtues of our residents' pragmatism and independence. Thumbnail image for open_letter.jpegI've decried the East Coast/West Coast mentality that dubs us "flyover country." Hell, one of my favorite childhood memories is my time at the Little Hoosiers summer camp and the hands-on lessons about frontier living.

I spent 38 years defending you from the slings and arrows of jumped up liberals who consistently told me to "move somewhere else" if I wanted to escape the anti-LGBT lunacy that's plagued you for the past decade. I didn't want to give up on you, Indiana. I wanted to help guide you away from being the middle finger of the south jutting up into the north.

Lately though, you've worn your bigotry on your sleeve. In fact, you've loudly and obnoxiously thrown down the gauntlet. The race to the bottom is on and you're at the front of the pack. The only real competition on the track now is Virginia and you're determined to win.

Your history with civil rights struggles is a mixed bag, my dear. Like a gaudy drag queen, you wear your baubles and bits proudly as if the cheap accessories were real jewels. "We were a free state!" you loudly proclaim, but the tarnish of being the national headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan (with the full support of the political establishment) still shows.

"We made a law ending school segregation five years before the federal government did!" you crow; the fact that schools like Indianapolis' Crispus Attucks high school remained segregated until the 60s and 70s gets thrown in the dumpster in the hopes it'll never see the light of day again.

We won't even go into your history of vicious attacks against women; it'll just make us both angry. It's partially why I left you.

Our relationship has had its ups and downs before, Indiana, but after it turned into an abusive relationship, it had to end. I didn't want to be weighed down with the fear of what you'd do next. I didn't want to worry that you'd be angry every time someone else does something nice for me. I didn't want to spend my nights worrying about my safety and whether or not you'd show up at my house drunk on hate your zealot friends bought for you.

I know it pisses you off to bring up old problems, but I didn't get any closure when I left. I need that. If we're going to even be friendly, we need to work through these issues.

You think it's okay for people to beat me or even kill me. You're one of the last holdouts against a hate crimes law; even Mississippi beat you to the punch. When the law passed at the federal level, Congress members from the deep South voted for it but the majority of your chosen representatives voted against it. I get it. You secretly harbor a fondness for those KKK days and that's why you refuse to speak up for my right to be free of violence.

In fact, your stance on protecting my friends and family from violence and intimidation is so severe, you refuse to include LGBT teens in bullying legislation. Remember that one of the first teen suicides that brought the issue to national attention last year happened in your front yard. What did you do? You gave tacit approval instead of condemnation. You killed the legislation because you thought it would "promote the dangers of homosexuality."

I like kids, Indiana, and you just don't. You won't even allow a gay youth group to have a license plate that will raise funds for them to help prevent teen suicide. You believe the far right's claims that the group's site is "pornographic" because it provides information on how to handle bullying. In order to punish LGBT teens, you're willing to go so far as to punish other organizations who've been issued specialty license plates too. That's pretty low, Indiana. That speaks volumes about your intentions.

Speaking of kids, you're even willing to become a national laughingstock when you let one of your legislators condemn the girl scouts as "promoting lesbianism and abortions." Of course, it's all bullshit but you're not even willing to say so publicly. You didn't call him an idiotic asshole, you just whistled in the dark and allowed him to spew his ill-informed and hateful rhetoric. Friends look out for each other, Indiana, and you're allowing him go down a dark path; instead of leading him back to the light, you decided to go down that road too.

You didn't want me to have a job outside the home, but then complained if I was unemployed and needed public assistance. In fact, you won't even support laws intended to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in employment, housing or public assistance. You complain about the high rate of unemployment, but then give your okay to increasing the number of unemployed - if they're not straight. Even my supposed friends who stay in your statehouse are too afraid of your wrath to actually push for my issues.

Our relationship was always one-sided, Indiana. You wanted to get the milk without buying the cow. Marriage was always out of the question because you were too afraid to stand up to your religious right parents. In fact, you gave the okay to deny gay couples even a civil union ceremony; even second-class citizenship isn't kosher for you. Instead you like to claim that we're all promiscuous and should "settle down" - just in some other state.

I'm just tired, my dear. Even though I moved away, when folks would ask me where my heart was I always said it was with you. After your last couple of tricks I just can't take any more. I'm not your punching bag; I'm not your dirty secret. We belong together and I know it, but I just can't be with you when you disrespect me so often and treat me like trash. A relationship has to be a two-way street, Indiana, and right now you only take without giving.

So I'm leaving you for good, Indiana. While I'd always hoped we'd reconcile, it's apparent that you're not willing to meet me even halfway. I've met someone new now. Her name is DC and we're very happy together. She respects me in a way you never did. I'm sorry it has to end this way, but I just don't love you any more.

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