A Glimpse At Valdosta's "Alternative" Community

By: Greg Gullberg Email
By: Greg Gullberg Email

- Valdosta, Ga. - May 07, 2012 -

Gay people make up between 1% and 4% of the populations in most cities. And cities in the South are no exception.

In Valdosta, the "South Georgia Pride" club meets twice a month. They do everything from bowling at "Jac's Lanes" to dinner at "Buffalo Wild Wings". The point is to enjoy a night out where they can feel free to be themselves, free from judgment.

"(It's about) getting together, having fun and being comfortable and feeling safe around people that are accepting," said Raynae Williams, South Georgia Pride's Assistant Executive Director.

They're even hosting the South Georgia Pride Festival in September at "John W. Saunders Memorial Park" in Valdosta.

But you'll see a different side of the coin when you enter the taboo world of drag shows. Every Saturday night is drag night in downtown Valdosta at "Glo Ultra Lounge".

"I think they're fantastic. They're so energetic. There's nothing like it in Valdosta, and it's an art form," said drag show enthusiast, Katie Aufenthie.

Glo is not a gay bar, they serve any orientation indiscriminately. On a given night their profits can be up or down. But Saturday night means big business.

The drag queens come from all over including Jacksonville, Atlanta and right here in Valdosta.

At first glance it looks like a strip show, but there's no nudity. The crowd simply tips the performers as they lip sync to popular songs.

But still there are signs everywhere that serve as reminders that many see homosexuality as unacceptable. Countless drivers on Interstate-75 see billboards with these words "Homosexuality Is An Abomination".

There are several of these billboards in Cook County along the highway. They quote a verse from Leviticus 18-22. A conservative Kentucky church is responsible for them.

In November we asked local pastors in Adel what they thought about the signs.

"We do from a biblical point of view understand that homosexuality is a sin and it is an abomination. Now whether people running 75mph on the interstate understand that: probably not. But yeah, I agree with the billboard," said Pastor Ben Smith of First Baptist Church in Adel.

Still many worry about impressionable young adults in schools who are barraged with mixed messages about homosexuality. Nationally we've seen cases where bullying has gone so far that victims have taken their own lives.

"Students need to feel safe in their school environment. If they don't feel safe, they feel bullied or harassed or scared to go to school for fear of being called a name, they're not going to learn," said Brian Law, a counselor at Valdosta High School.

He says the Valdosta City School System is the only district in the southern half of Georgia whose policies offer protection to students based on sexual orientation.

"They can reach out to someone because they know that protection is there. And our teachers are trained if they witness any kind of harassment, the first thing they are to do is to stop it and report it immediately to an administrator," Law said.

So whether bowling, dancing, or studying, this is just a glimpse at what it's like to be "Gay In The South".

- - - NEW TO WEB - - -

Click the following link to view the "Valdosta City Schools" system's Nondiscrimination Policy.


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  • by In Valdosta Location: United States on May 11, 2012 at 07:16 AM
    TO ALL YOU SO-CALLED CHRISTIANS: I am also a Christian and also know personally that you do not choose to be gay, but you do choose to live gay. I have found no where in the Bible that states where any sin is any worse than those you have yourself...sin is sin and that is it. You are not here to judge the way anyone lives or what sins they have, everyone has them!
  • by DeeDee Location: Valdosta on May 9, 2012 at 08:37 AM
    Personally, I don't care if you're gay or not, what race you are, etc. That's not for me to judge or discuss. We are supposed to love our neighbors and treat others like we want to be treated. With that being said, I do not want it pushed in my face, anymore than I would a hetrosexual display of affection. There are certain things that belong in private not in public. My nephew is gay. I love him unconditionially. But I've told him, I don't want to see or hear about "anything". That's just being respectful of others. And yes, there are several species that display homosexual behavior. Monkey's are one of them...just sayin.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 9, 2012 at 09:26 AM in reply to DeeDee
      That is a respectable view. If you hold the same to both, and don't constantly or snidely condemn someone I don't see a problem with it.
      • reply
        by DeeDee on May 10, 2012 at 11:41 AM in reply to
        I totally agree!
    • reply
      by In Valdosta on May 11, 2012 at 07:17 AM in reply to DeeDee
  • by hopelessly hetero on May 9, 2012 at 06:14 AM
    I'll post it again- "If you don't like gays, blame straight people- they're the ones that keep having gay babies" Go think on that for a few minutes.
  • by JUSTME Location: Valdosta on May 8, 2012 at 05:06 PM
    It amazes me how religion is brought in as a defense against homosexuality. How many of those who identify as Christians and are against homosexuality have looked into other societies and homosexuality? Homosexuality is seen throughout many societies the world over. In some places, homosexual acts are a way of entering your adult hood or preparing a female for marriage. Also, comparing humans to animals is correct. We started off like most animals you know. Yes, we've developed reason and intelligence (don't know about soul seeing as that's a religious idea and has yet to be proven), but why would 'God' (only putting it like that because I don't believe in a specific faith although I do knock anyone who does) create animals who would participate in homosexual acts if that God is so against homosexuality? Homosexuals can reproduce...the ability is there. As a matter of fact, many homosexual couples will find surrogates or sperm donors to assist in producing children...some even adopt. Why should anyone care who I love? What is so wrong with it? I don't condemn what you or anyone else does behind close doors. I don't condemn your girlfriends when they wear extremely revealing clothing, when you have 20 piercings or tattoos, or when you're making out in public. My motto...to each his own! At one point were you, as a Christian, given the right to judge me? The Bible states time and time again to love your neighbor, to treat anyone else as you'd like to be treated. If you don't like it, don't pay attention to it. It's about time a news channel takes time to focus on the positive acts in life, versus murders, robberies, etc. When you can bring me solid proof that what I'm doing is detrimental to anyone other than myself and my partner...I will gladly stop! Until then...I will die fighting for my right to love who I want, live my life peacefully, and not be discriminated against.
  • by AngryCon on May 8, 2012 at 04:25 PM
    Speak out against this and it's hatred but the same people make insulting comments with hatred about Christianity. (Notice it's always Christianity and no other religion) Yes the Bible, the scripture, speaks against it and yes Jesus loves everyone. I know that's hard for some of you to understand. As for my opinion; what makes one think they have the "right" to impose homosexuality on everyone else? You have chosen this life style and because of this there are consequences. Deal with it and stop imposing homosexuality on the rest of society. It's wrong period; the same as adultery, incest and polygamy.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 9, 2012 at 02:09 AM in reply to AngryCon
      No one is imposing homosexuality on anyone. No one can. It is impossible to force the sexual orientation of someone else. However, by influencing legislation "Christians" are very much imposing their do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do religion on everyone else.
    • reply
      by Nelson on May 9, 2012 at 05:22 AM in reply to AngryCon
      I suppose I missed the part where anyone was striving to make the whole world gay. As far as I can tell, they just want the world to let them live their lives and for us to afford them the SAME rights we afford anyone else. If you are bigoted and don't want equality for all, go ahead and say it, but don't try and hide behind some kind of smoke screen of false persecution.
  • by Mr.E Location: Tallahassee on May 8, 2012 at 04:07 PM
    If homosexuality was so detrimental to the spirit, Christ would have addressed it. It was around then. The closest he does come is by saying that a man with a lustful heart should be married. So it would seem to be, that by this rational, we should allow them to marry! It is 100% true that a man can love another man, and a woman can love another woman. Love is the foundation of christianity! So as Christians, people should encourage loving relationships regardless of gender and discourage the lustful meaningless side of sexuality that Christ saw as sinful. But I am just a lowly sinner, so............
    • reply
      by Makes You Think on May 9, 2012 at 05:08 AM in reply to Mr.E
      You make a wonderful point that is completely overlooked in that Jesus never says anything specifically about homosexuality. You'd think if the issue was so earth-shatteringly important he might have said at least a few words about it. I guess he didn't think it was such a big deal.
  • by Redd Foxx on May 8, 2012 at 01:28 PM
    7 billion people on this planet and what's important to these noo noos? Women should continue to drop offspring regularly.
  • by No Thanks on May 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM
    There was a time when all men lived by the strict teachings of the Bible and religion had the final word on everything. It was known as the Dark Ages - a period when humanity stagnated in poverty and ignorance for hundreds of years until the Enlightenment. I don't want to go back to those days - thank you very much.
    • reply
      by Tally on May 8, 2012 at 06:14 PM in reply to No Thanks
      You are an historically challenged idiot. The Dark Ages was a period when the tyrant kings kept the people in the dark by NOT ALLOWING them to read the Bible or most any other form of literature that did not meet the "standards" of the king.
  • by Anonymous on May 8, 2012 at 09:21 AM
    The only people who see sex as being only for the purpose of procreation are completely out of touch with reality. Thank you "christians" for showing us this; yet again.
    • reply
      by Gat is NOT normal on May 8, 2012 at 09:46 AM in reply to
      What an ignorant stereotype. I am not religious, but way to show your hatred of religious people, hypocrite. Gata, what 1% of women can't reproduce? 100% of gays cannot reproduce, stupid comparison, but thats not a shocker
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 8, 2012 at 12:18 PM in reply to Gat is NOT normal
        "Homosexuality is against nature because it cannot lead to procreation." That is the entire theme used by the "christians" of why the Bible supposedly condemns homosexuality, and why homosexuals should be held as second class citizens without all the rights the rest of us enjoy. It is a stereotype, but it is a stereotype manufactured by the "christians".
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 8, 2012 at 03:21 PM in reply to Gat is NOT normal
        Gat is not normal? Really? I see that you're anti-gun, but since when do guns have anything at all to do with homosexuality?
      • reply
        by Nelson on May 9, 2012 at 05:27 AM in reply to Gat is NOT normal
        I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of homosexuals are quite capable of reproduction. There is no biological fertility switch that is shut off when gay is turned on.
  • by Gay is NOT normal on May 8, 2012 at 08:31 AM
    Bubba, two males can't reproduce, that tells anyone with any level of intelligence that being gay is in NOT normal. If being gay was natural/normal, gays could reproduce.
    • reply
      by gata on May 8, 2012 at 09:25 AM in reply to Gay is NOT normal
      Some women can't reproduce either. Does that makes them less intelligent? Please don't respond. I can't take much more of this anti-gay stupidity today.
      • reply
        by GV on May 8, 2012 at 10:08 AM in reply to gata
        That's only because something is wrong with one of them,or both of them,and it is normal for that to happen,but not under any circumstance can a man reproduce with another man.That is not normal.
    • reply
      by Nelson on May 8, 2012 at 10:54 AM in reply to Gay is NOT normal
      Since it looks like you have really put some thought into this issue, why do you think other animals engage in homosexual behavior?
      • reply
        by GV on May 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM in reply to Nelson
        What animals engage in it normaly?
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 8, 2012 at 12:46 PM in reply to GV
          And here is the intellectual dishonesty. You will claim what normal is. Birds, penguins, monkeys, etc do show homosexual acts. Go google search for homosexual animals and check the wiki link. Yeah yeah wiki doesn't count. Then just check the links and sources listed. Lets go ahead and beat you to the goal post moving: Oh wait now there is proof from science... then you will be 'science doesn't have the answers so the BIBLE and the devil did it or God is testing us'. Oh man if only science classes I took allowed that kind of logical run arounds that fundys use I could have made straight As as everyone would have been able to be right because they your belief can never be wrong.
        • reply
          by AB on May 8, 2012 at 01:55 PM in reply to GV
          It has been repeatedly observed and documented in more than 1500 species of animals. Sheep, primates, giraffes, hyenas, lizards, insects, swans, ducks, penguins, dolphins, etc. Some animals (black swans, for instance, in which almost 1/4 of all pairings are male-male) form lifelong relationships with a same sex mate. This is not opinion, it is recorded fact, with large amounts of solid proof behind it.
        • reply
          by Neo on May 8, 2012 at 04:13 PM in reply to GV
          Read "Biological Exuberance" by Bruce Bagemihl. Oh, dear! Do you believe in science?
        • reply
          by GV on May 9, 2012 at 05:07 AM in reply to GV
          Well maybe some of ya'll are part hyenas or lizards.That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.That's why ya'll can't be taken seriously.You think it's a joke,or do you really compare yourselves to a pinguin?And for your info,I did google it,and I see nothing to support your claims.All I see is claims made by homosexual activists who are trying to justify homosexuallity as being normal.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 9, 2012 at 06:19 AM in reply to GV
          @GV. Yes I forget that google tailors searches to what you generally search for. In my case science topics. Look in wiki: ” List of animals displaying homosexual behavior”. But again you are intellectually dishonest as anyone that disagreed with you is some sort of activist. If 10k of scientists said the same thing and a handful dissented then in fundamentalist one crack pot some how cancels out 10k of reasoned voices. Science is only I valid if it agrees with you, and that isn't how it works for those that intellectually honest. As again you moved the goal post, animals don't matter. You are just like hundreds of other screaming fundamentalists that think they are smart and can outwit people with their twisted ever goal post moving logic, while in truth you ate easily seen through and predictable.
        • reply
          by GV on May 9, 2012 at 07:36 AM in reply to GV
          Anonymous,that's twice you mentioned "wiki".Is that what you call science?That's the best you can do?Would it be normal for a mother to eat her placenta after birth because dogs do?
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 9, 2012 at 09:01 AM in reply to GV
          @GV. Wiki is easy to point to than giving lots of links to pay way science papers. And the references on are easily looked at explored and researched as wiki is just the first step. Wiki is way more reliable than the bible and much more factual than most give it credit, even so you don't take it on faith you research. Nature, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Ars Technica, and others have rated wiki faily accurate when it comes to history and science. Not at professional quaility but close. Again you attack the source without addressing the topic. You brought up prove there are animals that are homosexual. I have as have others. Now you are trying to twist it around as if we brought up animals in a belittling manner. Sorry Glass View (GV) I can see right through you.
        • reply
          by GV on May 9, 2012 at 10:56 AM in reply to GV
          You're right.That's the point.You and the others haven't proven anything.Even the scientists you talk about can't "prove"anything.They only have their thoughts.There are just as many scientists who have done research and they think differently.It doesn't matter what scientists"think".It hasn't been proven.Just because scientists say something doesn't make it true.Kinda like the "round earth vs flat earth people".The earth isn't"round and not flat"just because alot of scientists say it is,it's round because that's what it is.I guess if all the scientists got together and said that the earth was flat,then you'd believe them?You've provided my with no proof at all.You are loosing credibility.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 9, 2012 at 11:43 AM in reply to GV
          Creditability? Posh you don't know the first thing about science and you are like the emperor with no clothes dancing around happy thinking you are winning while anyone that can reason can see I am being cruel letting you hang yourself with your willful ignorance. I am not debating you I am making use of you, to understand you not to bring you to some sort of enlightenment. And to let others see how one like yourself always twists around with their spongy logic. Because you shown your hand that no matter the proof, you will never accept it. You will not think or accept that others can systematically analyze the real world and present it in a way that others can disapprove them or verify it. No how science works is beyound your ilk. Science can be wrong but it is more than belief,, if can be disproven, it can be tested, it can adapt to new data. A scientist is much more honest than fundamentalists as we can accept proof when they are wrong, if youhave more than your ”feelings” to back it up. So go out and bring links that show animals are not by nature prone to homosexuality.
        • reply
          by GV on May 10, 2012 at 07:26 AM in reply to GV
          Anonymous,you keep talking stuff like"no matter the proof, you will never accept it".What proof are you talking about?You sure haven't provided any.You told me to go google it and cited wiki,is that what you call"proof",or do you have some other "proof"that your not telling me and the rest of the world about?There are just as many scientists who say you are wrong as there are that agree with you,so what "proof"are you taliking about?My proof that animals aren't normally homosexual is actually more proof than yours,as I see animals multiplying all the time.If only 2% of the people are gay,then that means people aren't normally gay.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM in reply to GV
          @GV. The proof you were given by others naming authors and told to look into wiki. But because you must have your hand held I will provide you a sample list of just some of the research into this area. It will not be in this posting but another as I have found that posted links don't always make it here. But look up a research author by Bruse Bagenihl, maybe a google book search can find some excerpts from him. Again you moved your goal post. Let’s define homosexual acts by animals as normal in that it can simply be found commonly enough it can be researched and patterned. Or that it can normally occur in nature. Percent of the population that is gay runs around 3% to 6% by state populations. That it exists, even as a small percent in most cases of the animal populations studied, is an anathema to fundamentalist claims that homosexuality is unnatural. Before I even bother with you anymore find me 5 published science papers that disprove that homosexuality can occur in nature or that homosexuality is harmful and/or is damaging mentally/physically to those that practice it. All research from only say the 90s and up, this is easy, as your claim of many scientists think differently should be easy to find. I never said either that homosexual acts preclude animals from engaging also in heterosexual activities, bisexuality if you will. A few lizard species are actually female only and can reproduce without males. Again I said you will claim what normal is, and will dance around that vague term as did Bubba suggest you would. Normal by the simplest terms is anything less than 50% which you may end up using.
        • reply
          by GV on May 11, 2012 at 05:46 AM in reply to GV
          Well why don't YOU tell me what YOU think normal is?I have looked up Bruse Bagenihl,and he still has no proof that it is normal.You want to know what My definition of normal is?Well it has nothing to do with what I think,I'm not the one who came up with the word and gave it the definition.My definition of normal is what normal is.Has nothing to do with what I think.Normal adjective 1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural. 2. serving to establish a standard. Nobody died and made me the decider of what it means,it means what it means.We aren't arguing whether or not animals act gay,but it's not normal,or in other words,as per definition of normal,natural.
      • reply
        by Vic on May 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM in reply to Nelson
        nelson, you are really reaching into the bottom of the barrel when you compare animals to humans. ha....animals cannot reason nor do they have a soul.
        • reply
          by Nelson on May 9, 2012 at 05:32 AM in reply to Vic
          Humans are animals, and no one has ever proven the existence of a soul. It is human arrogance to try and remove ourselves from the tree of life.
    • reply
      by Bubba on May 8, 2012 at 01:13 PM in reply to Gay is NOT normal
      What does yours, or anyone else's definition of "normal" have to do with anything? Your very choice of words reveals your subjective and judgmental thoughts and ideas. Why is normal so important to ya'll? Do you use the same standard when addressing issues about people with disabilities or deformities? Subjective, in the eye of the beholder. Nothing more or less. That's all you bring to the table - no moral authority as your use of "normal" portends.
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