Letter from the Editor: January 2015

This month, Out & About Nashville has focused on two serious issues as we begin a new year: addiction in the LGBT community and issues facing LGBT immigrants. Both of these issues are intimately related to problems of identity in ways that are very telling for our community.

Brian Sullivan explores the harmful effects of addiction on LGBT people, focusing in particular on the meth epidemic that has so deeply afflicted our region. To get to the heart of the matter, he talked in depth with a gay man and a lesbian at different stages in their addiction: the man is in recovery and the woman hasn’t yet begun the process. In both cases, he identifies a weak sense of self as a primary cause for addictive behaviors. The difficulties LGBT people face, then, in terms bullying and lack of social acceptance may break down the psychological barriers to abuse. In future issues of O&AN, look for a continuing focus on addiction.

In our coverage on immigration, we take a closer look at the lives of immigrants and the way that LGBT identity shapes and informs the experiences of immigrants in Nashville. Three men of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds—and who came to the U.S. via very different paths—open up about the way that their lives have been impacted by being part of, and often torn between, two definite identities. In some surprising ways, their LGBT immigrant identity causes conflict not with those they meet in their new home, but with those with whom they share deep roots.

We then look at ways in which the U.S., and Nashville in particular, are striving to meet the needs of the most vulnerable immigrants, the undocumented LGBT or those with particular needs. We spoke to Stephanie Teatro, interim co-director of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, about her organizations advocacy, as well as about President Obama’s Executive Action and why LGBT people are among those who benefit least from it.

We also spoke to Renata Soto, executive director and co-founder of Conexión Américas, about how Conexión and the community center it led the drive to establish are serving the needs of immigrants, including LGBT families and youth, in Middle Tennessee. Look for updates on this exciting organization online in the coming weeks.

We often behave as if addicts and immigrants are distant “others” unless we’ve faced the issues ourselves, or experienced them indirectly with loved ones. We hope that by bringing the experiences of both groups closer to home, we can increase our community’s understanding of problem that really are not other but our own.

@jamesallengrady

 

 

 

 

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