I’ve been living and organizing in the South (mostly around LGBTQ issues) since 2008. My friends and family from various parts of the country don’t visit much. It’s difficult to entice folks to come to Mississippi or Alabama. It’s not really on the way to a major destination, so folks don’t just pop by. Interest from family and friends in my work has waxed and waned over the years. When the work was highly visible (say, a major legal case that made national news) or easy to understand (such as organizing something concrete like a conference or an event) there was interest. More long-term and difficult to describe work, like youth development and community-building that’s less concrete, doesn’t seem to garner much interest from my loved ones. That’s perfectly fine with me. I love my work, and if communities rally around and behind it down here that’s all that matters.
The Westboro Baptist Church and their circus of hate came to town on May 18. All of a sudden, folks I don’t hear from much were flooding my inbox. Did I know the group was coming? What was I planning to do about it? Did I know of a protest that would be organized? Was there a place to send money to fund the protest? Judging from the swell of interest, you’d think that something important was about to happen in my community.