On August 21, West Virginia State Senator Mike Azinger (R-Wood) published an op-ed in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel entitled “Pride and Prejudice: Marquees of a Dying Culture.”
In that piece, Azinger began by slamming Pride Month:
July 1, mercifully, slammed the door on gay pride month (a, heretofore, perfectly respectable month), where mankind for 30 days proclaims righteous what God, from the foundation of the world, proclaimed, well, not.
Azinger went on to say that same sex marriage “flouts Natural Law” and that “a nation that takes its kids to gay parades, to libraries to listen to transgender men, surgically changes the sex of even children, one suspects, has forgotten God also.”
Azinger is no stranger to expressing antigay sentiments having previously written op-eds articulating that LGBTQ+ identity is “about indoctrination and a forced acceptance of a perverted and non-biblical view of sexuality” and opposing LGBTQ+ equality whenever it has been proposed.
Though The Buckeye Flame exclusively focuses our efforts on the intersection of Ohio and LGBTQ+ identity, our LGBTQ+ siblings in the southeast corner of the state, the line between Ohio and West Virginia is blurry at best.
“What people often fail to realize is that in areas like the Mid-Ohio Valley, cultural and political stances don’t end at the Ohio River,” explained Danielle Thrasher, a board member of OUT MOV, a non-profit LGBTQ+ organization providing social, educational, and community events in the Mid Ohio Valley. “For people in this area, Parkersburg, West Virginia feels just as much like home as Marietta, Ohio does. This must be kept in mind when people hear the kind of rhetoric Mike Azinger is putting into the world. We live in a world where a lot of our neighbors and friends rely on our elected officials for their political stances, so when Azinger says things like this it becomes a reflection of the entire Mid-Ohio Valley.”
The research showed that 62.5 percent of respondents were verbally harassed because of their sexuality/gender identity and 73.6 percent of individuals said that a lack of LGBTQ+ acceptance made their mental health worse. The worst statistic of all showed that 48.6 percent of respondents were very unlikely to stay in the Mid-Ohio Valley because of the lack of LGBTQ+ protections in this area.
After highlighting that Azinger’s antigay rhetoric can have very real financial implications as LGBTQ+ individuals choose to leave the region, she ended on a positive note.
“Embracing diversity is not how our society dies, but rather how it flourishes. When we embrace the idea of having people in our life who don’t look, talk, or love like we do, we improve as people and as a society.” 🔥
- Reach out to Senator Azinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make your voice heard about his antigay views.
- Like the Out MOV Facebook page, visit their website, and donate to help support their work.
- Read all about the LGBTQ+ Youth in the Mid-Ohio Valley: An Empirical Report.