For most of my adult/voting-age life, I lived in states that mostly reflected my political outlook and views.   Not that these states were anywhere near perfect (ha!), but they were generally progressive and had significant, if not dominating, liberal populations in the areas in which I was living.

Now, I live in a purply-red pinprick in a vast sea of red.  There are blue areas in my state, I just don’t live anywhere near them.  The first couple of years we lived here, with all the horrible crap going on in the national and international levels, I did not engage at all at the local level.  I paid attention only to national elections and events (pres, senators, etc.).  I am finding, however, that I am slowly becoming pulled into the community around me, partly due to some very cool people I’ve come to know that are very active in state politics and organizing.  It takes time to become invested in a community and learn what the fights are.

It’s a very different experience fighting or talking about issues when one knows that few people around you agree.  There is the slow accumulation of comments heard from people that appears to indicate sympathy toward different sorts of views, that, in some respects is probably similar to finding allies when one is LGBTQ and not obviously out (I’m guessing).*  When you are not in an openly-friendly pro-whatever-you-are community, you tend to be careful about what you say to whom, at least in work/business/certain social contexts.  For me, anyway, I have not volunteered my opinions as freely as I would in a more receptive environment.  I dunno, maybe I’m just chickenshit.  It also forces one to figure out, in a way not necessary when one is in the majority, how to argue one’s position as opposed to coast on general agreement and nitpick over minor disagreements.

As much as I know, or have read about experiences about being on the outside looking in, and despite my experiences as a woman, this is a bit different.  I’m pretty obviously a woman (not every woman is, but I am), but it’s not as though you’d know my political leanings just by looking at me.  So it’s been an education, and I hope has given me more understanding of those in similar positions.

The blogosphere has been a livesaver, particularly until I found my fellow travelers and allies, as I imagine it is for millions all over.  Iit’s frustrating that basic rights I took for granted elsewhere simply do not exist here and what little there is has to be protected earnestly to continue to have any viability.  It is a good wake-up call to live in a community where one is not concerned mainly with trying to challenge the ballot petition sheets of one’s competing sub/sub/sub splinter group of the local version of the democratic party.  (Yes, I have done this in my former life; it ain’t fun and it ain’t pretty and it gave me a strong distaste for local-level politics).

Anyway, stay tuned for my adventures in becoming more politically active in my community.

*By the way, I do not mean to imply that a ‘choice’ about political views is anything at all like an internal imperative about what one’s sexuality is; I mean only to compare an experience of being in a minority group that isn’t necessarily identifiable by obvious physical indicators.   Perhaps this only shows how sheltered I’ve been in my earlier liberal enclaves.