Outside and beneath the fame of California’s big cities there is still significant tension and fear for LGBT; especially in smaller cities.
California is known for having the most legal and social equality in the country and one of the most LGBT accepting places in the world. San Francisco is the most well known refuge nationally and internationally; West Hollywood is the refuge for people who have money and status but find it still does not insure equality, and Sacramento is a less publicized area but actually has a much better cost of living and the second highest number of LGBT next to the Bay Area.
It is easy for LGBT who find some level of success to live in the bubble. West Hollywood, San Francisco, New York; and loose touch with the discrimination and fear faced by most LGBT that live in less metropolitan areas. Only a small percentage of LGBT Americans live in big cities; about 365,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area but 10 million nationwide. States like Mississippi have the greatest battles to insure basic civil rights protections and marriage equality for residents but also have the highest percentage of LGBT raising families with children (HRC.org, 2015).
Timothy Knox; three term Mayor of Amador City, California does significant work with Lobbying and Activist groups, like Stonewall Democrats, in Sacramento to increase acceptance and equality in his town. He is openly gay but says the open discrimination he sees makes him fearful and he worries about the safety of other LGBT in his city. “Many people are conservative; it is even difficult to discuss medical issues with my doctor if it means telling him I am gay (Knox, 2015).” Demographics have found 70% of LGBT in Amador County are in the closet and do not reveal their sexuality.
There are many active groups that sometimes violently oppose LGBT in the surrounding community; “Survivalists, skin heads, neo Nazis, and the Church of the Divide (Church of the Divide, 2015).” Homosexuals are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a hate crime than Jewish people or black people, more than four times as likely as Muslims, and fourteen times as likely as Latinos (indexmundi, 2015).
He notes that LGBT are often over looked; the city was granted $1.4 million dollars for mental health services last year, none of it was allocated to LGBT services (Knox, 2015). There are no LGBT medical service providers in the county. Many LGBT mental health services are focused on preventative care for youth. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death on College Campuses,” “LGBT young people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual peers,” “Nearly half of transgender young people have seriously contemplated suicide (Trevor Project, 2015).”
In the past year of street canvassing I have heard many offensive comments;
“I write for a blog and host a radio station about the extermination of homosexuals”
“People don’t like fundraisers on the street talking to people about LGBT rights”
“What if everyone were gay?”
“Think that’s ok”
Or simply calling the Police for be asked “Take a minute for LGBT rights?”
https://localwiki.org/davis/Church of the Divide
Timothy Knox. (2015). Stonewall Democrats General Membership Meeting.
HRC.org. (2015). Project One America.