The Republican attack on books written by LGBTQ authors may have met its match in an ally who spoke out at a Tennessee library board meeting last Wednesday. Up against claims that books exploring gender were "age-inappropriate" and attacks from community members who used the controversy to spread homophobic hate, Jessee Graham, a resident of Columbia, showed the Maury County Library Board she would not sit idly and let her community be torn apart. She instead stood up, joining a group of 20 speakers packed into a commission room last Wednesday, according to The Daily Mail.
The words she spoke, which the Tennessee Holler captured in one edited version of the viral footage, attracted 1.1 million views. Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki retweeted the video, adding the comment, “Preach Jessee Graham.”
Preach, she did, turning periodically to look at both former mayoral candidate David Baker, a pastor who Graham said did little to address her report of sexual abuse at his church, and Maury County Commissioner Aaron Miller, who condemned LGBTQ library books.
Read every word of Graham’s remarks below:
Our town has never seen so much homophobic crap as we have since Miller came along, and I'm sick of it. These people have been with us this entire time, and we have never had a problem with it. They have never done any of the vile and disgusting things that that man and his weird cronies have leaked out of their mouth.
I've never been sexually assaulted at a drag show, but I have been in church—twice.
And I’ll tell you what, the men at that church told me it was my fault. This whole scenario should have stopped at the United States of America where we have free speech, but it didn't. We're here, and it's so ironic that he also served in the military that guarantees us these freedoms, moved from another place to come here and tell us that a community that we love, we are related to, we are friends with, that we work with, that they're dangerous. That's bullshit. They haven't done anything and I am so sick of listening to this weird, fake pious crap about Christianity being the reason behind—we have to protect the kids. Jesus didn't go anywhere and condemn people. He did not ever walk into any place spew hatred and lies and completely annihilate a group of human beings who just want to exist. Any of my four children that I also grew inside my womb in case pious pippies here are part of this community, they will be lucky because there is not a whole lot of families that would love their child unconditionally. And the fact that they want to take that away from children, that is child abuse. To immediately tell your child he is wrong for feeling like he doesn't belong. Conversion therapy, child abuse. And you don't need a moral compass to recognize something is wrong when it immediately hurts other people.
So why are we even here? Why does hate even have a platform? I am so sick of these straight, white, Christian males who are already at the top of the food chain acting like somebody is out to get them. They just want to exist, Aaron. Peacefully. Leave them alone. I’m done, love to you all.
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The 2022 midterms are just around the corner, and you sent us a ton of fantastic questions for this week’s episode of The Downballot. Among the many topics we cover: which states are likely to report results slowly—and how will those results change over time; the House districts that look like key bellwethers for how the night might go, and which might offer surprises; why and how Democrats make the hard decisions on which races to triage; the top legislative chambers to keep an eye on; and plenty more!