Monday, July 16, 2012

In Defense of Smallville

My brother Svoid and his wife Yodame came over for dinner last night. While talking about my recent move to Smallville and about how it really is a pretty cool little city that is relatively progressive for a small Utah town, Yodame said, "You don't give the city enough credit on your blog." I protested that when I talk about Smallville on my blog, I'm really talking about several little towns here that all blend together, not necessarily just the specific one I live in. And, to be fair, I haven't talked a whole lot about Smallville yet, apart from characterizing it by its small-town conservative culture, as opposed to the more liberal, big-city culture I come from.

But I'm beginning to wonder if even that is accurate. Yes, people in this part of Utah (and most parts of Utah outside of Salt Lake City or Park City) tend to be conservative politically, but it's not really fair to let that one factor define every single person here. One of my major assumptions about conservative Smallvillites (and one of the premises of this blog) is that they are opposed to homosexuality to some degree or another, whether it be in the form of campaigning against same-sex marriage or simply being uncomfortable around gay people. Based on my limited experience, though, that's proving not to be a universal truth. 

Perhaps the problem is that my interaction with Smallvillites is relatively limited. I work from home and have yet to get to know my neighbors, so mostly I interact with the Smallvillites who are involved with the play I'm in right now. And yes, I recognize that theatre people (even community theatre people) tend to be more liberal and open-minded. But still. Among the cast and crew of the play are a lesbian couple, an active Mormon who has a Human Rights Campaign sticker on her car, and a man who grew up in Utah but got away as quickly as he could only to return twenty years later in order to care for his parents. I don't go around announcing that I'm gay, but I wear my HRC shirt and my Pride shirt and my Planned Parenthood shirt, and I don't hesitate to mention my boyfriend when he's relevant to a conversation (e.g. "Oh, your husband does that? That sounds just like something my boyfriend would do.") And I haven't yet perceived any change in the way people treat me. No one has shunned me. No one has told their children not to talk to me. If anything, I suspect that some people who oppose same-sex marriage go out of their way to be friendly to me because I'm gay, because they're aware of the stigma attached to opponents of same-sex marriage (and Mormons in general), and they want to show that they're not homophobic. Would I prefer they not be donating time and money to ensure that I never marry Clark? Sure. But even if they're hurting me on a political level (and to be clear I don't know for sure that any of them are), I appreciate that they're kind to me on a personal level.

On Saturday I was talking to a fellow cast member who I'd recently friended on Facebook. I've liked her since I met her during auditions, and she's always been friendly to me, but she comes across very Mormon, so I really didn't know how she'd react once she figured out I was gay. She admitted that once I friended her, she'd gone back several months and read several of my status updates and had concluded not only that I'm gay, but that she knows who Clark is. (She suspects he is a mutual friend of ours; because it's not my secret to reveal, I neither confirmed nor denied.) She said she thinks it's "cute," and we talked a bit about our shared admiration of certain attractive men. Not a single word of judgment or disapproval.

So does this mean that all this secrecy about Clark's identity is unnecessary, that his fears about the consequences of coming out are unfounded? That's not my call to make. Clark grew up in Smallville and I'm new here, so I trust his sense of what we can and can't do. It's entirely possible that even people who are kind to us in person could say or do something that--intentionally or not--lead to negative consequences for Clark's family life and career. And like I said, my test group of Smallvillites is not a representative sample of the population since I'm only associating with theatre folks. Nonetheless, I'm happy to see that my faith in humanity, my sense that most people are good, kind people, regardless of politics and regardless of location, has not yet been proven wrong.


  1. It makes me happy that sometimes people pleasantly surprise you. I hope it continues that way.

  2. Thanks, Alice. It makes me happy too.