Leaving home ain’t easy…

By |2018-01-15T21:10:35-05:00January 12th, 2006|Uncategorized|

Ask most young LGBT people in Michigan where they want to live when they grow up and chances are they won’t say “here.”
In fact, the desire to leave Michigan is something LGBT young people have in common with their straight counter-parts, and those who have the means are packing up and moving out.
In this issue BTL speaks to some young people in Michigan who are in the target “brain drain” age range about why they want to leave the state.
That Michigan isn’t the most welcoming state for LGBT people is well known. We’ve got a very conservative Supreme Court and right-wing legislators aplenty. In 2004 voters passed a regressive marriage amendment that has led to a lawsuit over domestic partner benefits for Michigan workers. Hate crimes are on the rise. Lesbian and gay parents can’t both have a legal relatioship with their kids here. It’s perfectly legal for LGBT people to be fired or denied housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Michigan also has one of the most regressive prohibitions against stem-cell research in the country. Our legislators have spent plenty of their time on anti-choice bills, abstience-only sex education and bills to allow a woman’s pharmacist to refuse to fill her birth control perscription.
No wonder young people want to leave, gay and straight.
Michigan isn’t the only place hemmoraging young, talented people. What should give everyone interested in Michigan’s economic future pause is that young people are leaving the state largely in search of greener economic pastures, many of which are found in states and cities that have far more progressive social attitudes.
Where gay people go other young people will follow, and not because of some mass homosexual agenda recruitment conspiracy. Young people, regardless of sexual orientation, want to live in communities that are diverse and “cool,” and those communties tend to do quite well economically.
In Michigan we have some pockets of “cool,” but with the over all political and social climate, nowhere is cool enough. Govenor Jennifer Granholm has pushed her “cool cities” initiative, inspired by Richard Flordia’s book “The Rise of the Creative Class,” trying to revitalize cities to attract and keep young people.
“Keeping our brightest young minds here in Michigan is a critical component in growing our economy,” said Granholm in 2004. “Today’s young people and college students are the economic engines of tomorrow. The state has a vital interest in talking to our young people directly about how we can work together to make our state more attractive to them and to the businesses that are hungry to hire them.”
So true. However, right-wing polcies and agendas are crippling this state. Until Michigan flexes some progressive political muscle, the creative class – our “economic engines of tomorrow” – will keep fleeing for places that aren’t in a right-wing stranglehold.
This is why it is so important to vote. The 2006 election will determine the direction Michigan heads politically, socially and economically. If you’re fed up or frustrated or thinking of fleeing, don’t just complain about it. Help make Michigan a better place to live for everyone. The ballot box is a good place to start.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.