I was born and raised here in Kansas, about 45 miles from where I live now. I went to college at the University of Kansas (some of you will be saying things about the Jayhawks right now), about 20 miles from here. I’ve been in this house for the last 5 years, and at this rate, I reckon I should cross the Missouri border in another 10 years or so.
Or I could stay put, because I actually kinda love this state. I love its scenery; I love its skies; I love that there’s an arbitrary fortress of hippie-hood in Lawrence, and that you can see real live honest-to-god buffalo beside the highway. (To be fair, they’re usually on ranches. But still! Buffalo!)
I love all the things that are in this commercial, which comes to us from the 1980s wayback machine and which I can still sing almost in its entirety:
This is my state, and I’m here to stay.
But lately, my state has–pardon my language–lost its damnfool mind. The legislators, led by Governor Palpatine–er, Brownback–have cut funding to everything that matters to me as a human being, done their level best to make this as hostile a place as possible for anyone who isn’t one of their cronies, and now, in what can really only be described as “Stage One of Their Nefarious Plan, BWAHAHAHA”, they’ve introduced a bill that would make it legal for anyone, including folks in public service positions, to refuse service to anyone whose sexuality offends their religious beliefs.
Let’s say that again. In Kansas, it is fixin’ to become legal for an employee of the state to refuse to serve you because of your sexuality. The bill does say that their manager would be obligated to find a different employee–y’know, one o’ them thar sympathizers–who would be willing to serve you, but the fact that the first employee can refuse you service at all….Well, I mean, a friend of mine put it best when he said that this is carrying on the fine tradition of Brown vs. Board of Education.
Another friend noted that we should probably be less surprised, given that Topeka is home to the Westboro Baptist Church (nope, no link for them. You want to read more about them, you have to Google it yourself.), so it’s not like Topeka is really a hotbed of sensitivity and acceptance.
I’m pretty sure you can guess what I’ve said about it, or at least what sort of emotion underlies my responses. I won’t reprint my actual language here, as I try to keep this site hovering around the PG-to-PG-13 level and my words were at least R-rated.
So all of this has led–and I think reasonably so–to a lot of folks saying they’re going to boycott Kansas. They’re not going to come to Kansas to visit. They’re not going to move here, and if they already live here, they’re going to move away. I saw one person saying they were going to have to find a new favorite college basketball team. And I get it. I really, really get it.
But I want to propose an alternate option: If you are homosexual, bisexual, transgender, or a straight ally, please move to Kansas immediately.
Seriously. Right this second. Pack your stuff, and come on down.
Here’s my thought process: sooner or later these lawmakers’ terms are going to expire. We have not yet reached the point where they are appointing themselves dictators-for-life. This means that eventually there is going to be another election, and some of these clowns’ seats are going to be up for grabs.
If all of the rainbow allies have fled the state, this state will never change.
But if all the fabulous folk swarm the state, establish residency, and register to vote…
I mean, I’m just sayin’, how hilariously awesome would it be for us all to stage a little uprising, and make Kansas the most gay-friendly state in the nation? How fantastic would it be if the Westboro Baptist folk suddenly found themselves buried in an avalanche of the very people they’ve been protesting against?
How incredible would it be for Kansas’ next governor to be its first openly gay governor?
Take that, Brownbackpatine.
And yes, I know that this means folks would have to deal with some full-tilt b.s. in the meantime, and I really, really feel yucky about asking for that sacrifice. Some folks would have to deal with the discrimination (fun fact: the bill is apparently designed to “prevent” discrimination by enabling people to adhere to their religious beliefs without having to deal with the scary gay people. Y’know, by excluding them from free access to services. I wonder if everyone here knows the word “hypocrisy”), but if we can get enough folks on board, we can turn this damn boat around…so it would be a temporary sacrifice, for a significantly greater good.
Do I really believe this is a likely outcome? Nahh, I’m mostly just daydreaming here.
But man, oh man oh man oh man, how great would it be if this state, which is really a pretty beautiful place that just happens to be run by some folks with seriously ugly hearts, got reclaimed?
What if we had our own little revolution, right here in the state that everyone just assumes will be the most backward state for the entire rest of forever?
What if we staged a quiet, betcha-didn’t-see-this-one-comin’ coup?
It’s worth a thought, anyway.
So maybe you don’t withdraw all your support from Kansas. Maybe you don’t turn your back on it. Maybe you move here instead, and build up our numbers, and come next election time, we take this damn state back.
Our state motto is “To the stars through difficulties”, after all.
Who wants to help me reach for the sky?