Is there a "Tennessee is hopeless" industry?

A recent article making the rounds has led me to wonder whether there is a "Tennessee is hopeless" industry. 

First, what does that even mean?  And is there one?

Getting at a definition:  What I mean by the "Tennessee is hopeless" industry is probably related to "the South is hopeless" industry problem.  When bad things happen here they are attributable to a fate rooted in some supposedly inherent qualities about Tennessee that make the state impervious to progress.  By industry, I mean a long series of news articles and blog posts, mostly coming from national LGBT media, that pounce immediately on any bad news coming from the state and try to connect it to any past bad news from the state.  People write articles, publish "research," and generate clicks and comments mainly from people who don't live here.  These articles are so pervasive that even those of us in Tennessee spread them around and begin to lose hope.

So maybe by answering the question of what the "Tennessee is hopeless" industry is, I've tipped my hand that I think it exists. 

I don't think it's a centralized conspiracy.  I think it's just a way of writing about the South and Tennessee that keeps occurring, a pattern of rhetoric, and I think it benefits someone.  That someone is not Tennesseans.

Tough but not hopeless:  I admit that it's really tough here for LGBT people.  There's not a person on the TEP boards of directors who would say otherwise.  We face the problem squarely every day.  People living in Tennessee already know it's tough.  So these articles aren't designed to inform us.  They are designed to shape the views of outsiders about us.  They bear some analogy to American writings about the rest of the world and its problems.

In the next piece on this topic, I'll take a look at what the effects of the "Tennessee is hopeless" industry are.  We'll also talk about how we can overcome it, if that's possible. 

We might have to part ways:  To close this piece, I would say that if you argue that there is only a "Tennessee is hopeless" industry because Tennessee is, in fact, hopeless, then we're not going to agree.  We all know it's tough here; some of us know there's more to the story and haven't got time to live under a myth constructed by others.

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  • commented 2015-06-04 10:00:04 -0500
    Chris, thank you for this very rational and insightful piece.

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