The Johnson City Press did a feature on our Tri-Cities Committee today.
Committee Chair Joe Rhymer explains the challenges of organizing in Northeast Tennessee:
“As far as a community for GLBT individuals, there’s not a whole lot of it,” Rhymer said. “In the Tri-Cities it’s not something that’s looked fondly upon.”
That should change, Rhymer said. He said tolerance of GLBT individuals is good, but more accepting attitudes need to be realized. The culture needs to change, which is the direction gay rights groups are moving across the country.
Rhymer said he sees unnecessary anxiety placed upon GLBT people, and some in the community lash out in hateful manners toward the gay population. He said some members of the local gay community feel compelled to hide their sexual orientations out of shame, because the consequences of discovery can be devastating.
“Honestly, in the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve heard of three or four suicides because of the fact that someone found out, or someone’s family found out,” Rhymer said.