Recent elections bring hope to LGBTQ+ community

Senior+Mabrie+Woods+grew+up+in+Olive+Branch%2C+Mississippi.+Mississippi+has+one+of+the+lowest+LGBTQ%2B+populations+in+America.+

Carter Moore

Senior Mabrie Woods grew up in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Mississippi has one of the lowest LGBTQ+ populations in America.

Kate McElhinney, News Editor

With the release of the recent election results, many students are rejoicing. The upcoming election of Joe Biden brings much relief for many people across America, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community. Senior Mabrie Woods is one of those such Americans.

Woods grew up in Olive Branch, Miss. They are an Emissary, as well as a member of the swim team, soccer team and Blue Notes. Woods is also president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). Growing up as a lesbian in Mississippi, a very religious and closed-minded state in regards to LGBTQ+ rights, has brought many challenges for Woods.

“Honestly one of the hardest things was the fact that I didn’t actually know anything. The most exposure to the word ‘gay’ I had ever had was people using it as an insult and my church saying it was a one-way ticket to hell,” Woods said. “When I did learn that what I was feeling meant I was gay, a lot of self-hatred did set in. I felt like I was dirty and wrong, and that was so hard because I was 12 and 13 and there really was nothing dirty about how I was feeling. It was hard, and people hated me, all because I wasn’t like them and they viewed me as this person that was dirty and wrong.”

Mississippi has one of the lowest percentages of LGBTQ+ residents, represented by only about 3.5% out of all Mississippians over the age of 18. This is likely due in part to the fact that, after Trump’s election in 2016, many Mississippi legislators worked to pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws that would allow private businesses to deny service to gay customers for religious reasons. However, Biden’s election into office brings some relief to Woods, who disagrees with how Trump has handled his presidency.

“I feel 100% more at ease. I know that because of Biden’s religious convictions he doesn’t exactly agree with LGBTQ people, but Trump was never willing to put his own opinions to the side to respect other people’s beliefs and has actively tried to roll back every nondiscrimination law passed during the Obama administration,” Woods said. 

Additionally, the election of six openly queer, nonbinary and trans politicians into public office has brought positivity to the LGBTQ+ community, breaking many records and giving hope to many future politicians. 

“I feel like to say ‘it’s nice’ is an understatement, but it is. It’s so cool to see that representation and to know that people like me are getting a chance to be heard,” Woods said.

The road to acceptance has been difficult for many LGBTQ+ teens, especially now, but Woods can confidently say that‒ regardless of the hardships‒ everything has been worth it, thanks to the support of their friends and family.

“Accepting myself was a long process, and it wouldn’t have happened without the support of my friends,” Woods said. “But, the person I am now is so much better than the person I used to be, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”