Joseph Thompson: Nevada County citizens can do better
I’m Joseph Thompson, gay and grew up in Grass Valley with my queer sister and loving parents. Happy Pride Month!
The Nevada County I grew up in was a harsh place for us members of the LGBTQ community, but wow, we have come a long way since.
Coming of age as gay in the 2000s in Nevada County was an unpleasant experience — countless times of name calling, intense emotional and physical bullying, and not feeling welcome in our community. Yet my sister and I always found people around town, including our parents, around whom we could live freely.
I would now like to extend the support my sister and I received from so many friends and family of friends to the black citizens of Nevada County and to the Black Lives Matters movement, in honor of Pride Month.
I remember Nevada County to be a place that wrestles with recognizing “the other” — a place that allows you to enter and thrive if you obey the socially constructed set of rules. An example is coming of age in 2008, when I would regularly hear my friend’s parents debating the merits of Proposition 8, often in favor of and believing that gay people don’t deserve the same rights as their heterosexual-selves. Nevada County has come a long way since, and I ask the community to extend that same kindness and open mind to the issues that your black citizens face. There is no reason, in 2020, that a child should be harassed for the color of their skin. Or for a young person to get pulled over, or harassed at a park because of the color of their skin.
I know firsthand that Nevada County wants to do and be better, and I know that white Nevada County citizens can do and be better. I have lived in New York City and Boston since leaving Nevada County, and have returned often to visit my parents and friends, sometimes even picking up a few shifts at Pete’s Pizza. I have learned about people who are different from me while living in these places, discovering more layers of self-awareness and an expanded world view. I hope that the people and services of Nevada County can expand their view to account for black lives.
Let’s think of and remember George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells. We can stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters, and show them the kindness, acceptance and hospitality that Nevada County is all about. Let them know that their lives are safe and valued in Nevada County. Shout to demand black and brown lives are treated the same as white lives in the face of the county sheriff’s office and city police departments.
Scream that Nevada County is a safe haven for people facing prejudice and ridicule, and vote taking into consideration the humanity of people not like you. Showing up for your most marginalized citizens is what makes Nevada County special.
We’ve never wanted to be Roseville, so let’s not “Roseville” Nevada County’s humanity. We are in 2020, when it is the time to think globally and act locally.
Joseph Thompson, M.P.H., lives in the greater New York City area.
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