Alex Gottardy

I never knew how strange my life was until I moved to Athens. My life seemed so completely normal with my mom, dad, sister, puppy, and I all living in a little brick house on top of a hill. I never considered my “cookie cutter” life abnormal. I owe my abstract life to the city that I was born and raised in, Decatur, Georgia. To the average Georgian, my hometown might seem like a different country. Driving downtown, you might find a group of free spirited instrumentalists participating in a drum circle or a group of protesters opposing Walmart. People’s lawns sport yard signs with “we are the 99 percent!” and bumper stickers supporting feminism clutter cars. For me all these acts and ideas were normal and accepted. Coming to Athens and realizing that a majority of the people here haven’t experienced the kind of lifestyle I grew up with and don’t respect my liberal perspective was shocking. But what shocked me most was the limited support of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.

When I found out I was gay, it wasn’t a big deal. Many of the members of my community were openly gay including my next door neighbors and many of my teachers. Almost every other car you see on the street has an ERC (equal rights campaign) sticker proudly stuck to their car, and gay role models were never scarce. But now, I see myself as a blue dot in a sea of red. An obvious minority among many who don’t understand or support my lifestyle. I don’t know if living in a new and unfamiliar environment in Athens will turn out to be difficult, but I know it will be a growing experience.