I was not born and raised in Kosciusko County, I moved here as an adult. While it is small compared to the other places I have lived, I like this area. I think it is a good place to raise a family. My perception is that because it is a "small town" many people are small minded regarding the LGBT community. It also seems to be a very conservative, Christian area, as such, most are not accepting of LGBT people.
Honestly I never knew I was "different". I was raised in the church and thus heard that it was a choice. So, I guess since I was attracted to the same sex I thought others were as well. I always believed that every person was attracted to both sexes and chose which sex to be involved with. In my mind only the brave dated the same sex. I was over 40 when I realized that most people were not attracted to the same sex. It was very eye opening for me! I quickly realized that I was a lesbian. The years of secretly desiring girls/women and feeling a great deal of guilt (because that was the wrong choice) were confirmation.
In middle school I was constantly getting out of showering with my classmates, I had long, frequent periods so that helped. I was told that I looked too long at other girls and made them uncomfortable. When I was in high school, I didn't take gym class opting for JROTC instead for the same reasons. During basic training I simply woke before the rest of girls in my dorm.
When I came out I lost a lot of friends. Ok, most of my friends. I have attended several churches in the area and the majority of my friends were from one church or another. I was shunned. When attending church activities for my children the people I worshipped with for years wouldn't even speak to me. I have had people stare when I hold my wife's hand in public and heard the whispered comments about the gay couple. I deliver mail and a customer asked me about my relationship status and when I told her I was with a woman she was disgusted and ranted about my being an abomination before God. She said that all "gays/lesbians/whatever's" should be banned to an island to die. I get called sir frequently, even though I have a big bust line and often wear pink. A receptionist at my Dr's office would not accept that I had a wife. When making an appointment for my wife, she kept glaring at me and proceeded to ask multiple times if we were married.
One of the most common misperceptions of both LGBT and straight people is that LGBT have a separate and different lifestyle. This is not true. As LGBT, we do nothing different; we work, eat and sleep just the same as everyone else. We just happen to do those things with someone of the same sex. We are not perverted, or child molesters, nor do we have orgies every night. We are just like you.
I can't say how this area is changing, as it has only been a few years since I've really been aware of it, however, I do think that in those few years people have become more accepting. There seems to be less judging when I hold my wife's hand in public. I think there will be a stronger presence in this area and that as people are educated they will be more accepting and supportive. I feel like ignorance prevails in this area. Educating the people on LGBT and interacting with them as LGBT in a non-violent manner will enable more people to be accepting. People fear what they don't understand, the only way to belay fear is to educate them. Sometimes it takes knowing someone who is LGBT to open the eyes of a judgmental, none accepting person.
I have been presently surprised by the love and acceptance found in this area. I have been accepted by 2 churches in the area without judgement. This is important to me because my faith is a huge part of who I am. It means so much to me that I can worship with and be accepted by other believers.
I do not consider myself to be "in the closet", I am open about being married to a woman. I try to be respectful and not be "in your face" with PDA, but I have and will hold hands with my wife and kiss her goodbye. I would not say that I go out of my way to influence public affairs however, if there is an event planned to support LGBT that I am able to attend I do my best to be present.
I have seen more of an LGBT community in the past few years, prior to that I just wasn't aware because I was not seeking it. Since accepting and acknowledging I am gay I am more aware of other LGBT in the area. It has been an eye-opening experience to see supporters and other LGBT people in this area. The fact that we have a Diversity Rally that includes LGBT and an LGBT group at the high school is very encouraging!
40-ish. Lesbian woman. Black. Middle class. Moved here in the 2000s.