Don’t punish Indiana’s citizens for one governor’s decision, Ashley C. Ford implores. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, supported almost exclusively by Governor Mike Pence, doesn’t reflect her Indiana:

“I don’t know every Hoosier, but I can’t find one who supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Everyone I know—myself included—has been speaking out, marching, letter-writing, doing whatever we can think of to get this bill repealed or tweaked.”

Ashley is especially invested in Indiana. It’s where she’s from, her home state. It’s where she came to terms with her own sexuality, kissed a girl, and found a supportive LGBTQA community:

I only moved an hour down the road to Indianapolis, but it was a new world for me, a chance to reinvent myself. Here, I casually mentioned my bisexuality to people who didn’t blink an eye. I attended Pride and patronized gay and lesbian bars. For years I’d been speaking about equal rights and human rights, but in Indy I began to let myself write about and speak publicly about my queer identity.

I didn’t leave Indiana because I didn’t feel safe or loved or understood. Yes, there were issues with my family, but I was still in Indiana when I found my community, and when I found acceptance. I feel like I lived two lives in Indiana: one that got me, and one I never gave the chance to get me. But that doesn’t seem very rare. It seems like the complicated relationship most people have with their hometowns.

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