InDepthNH.org welcomes Tori Tucker, our new intern who is a senior at Keene State College. Tori will write this biweekly column called “The Gay Agenda,” and she also helps raise money through donors and corporate underwriting.
By Tori Tucker
A big step in growing up and entering the magical world of adulthood is the point in one’s life where the realization hits that it’s time to move out of Mom and Dad’s house.
As the date of graduation draws nearer I’ve been talking more and more about trying to find my first apartment. Now, at least for the next academic year, I plan to live in Keene because I want to live with my girlfriend, and she still has a year left.
However, as we’ve planned ahead we’ve decided that Keene isn’t a permanent fit for us, and this got me questioning; is there a way to determine what the best place to live is as an LGBTQ couple?
Cue me addressing the Google search bar. After filtering out a few sites, I came across a list on Movoto.com that caught my attention. The list was titled “The 7 Best Towns in New Hampshire for LGBT Families.” My interest sparked, I began to scroll through and to my surprise Keene was listed towards the top, scoring #2, right after Durham. The author, Alan Woods’ reasoning for this is that college towns really make the difference. Colleges offer a wide array of cultural experiences, not only to college kids, but to the public as well.
Woods goes on to say that with the diverse student population, as well as the active presence of college students, makes for better a better environment for LGBTQ individuals and families. In fact, Woods listed five different college towns on the list of seven, including Durham, Keene, Hanover, Plymouth, and Manchester.
This interested me, because I’d never really thought about the college’s impact on LGBTQ individuals that lived in the surrounding communities. Of course, on campus we have a Pride organization as well as a second LGBT+ group that is student run. The entire campus is a designated safe space and doesn’t allow any form of intolerance, but to think of how we as a campus affected the town itself intrigued me.
Keene as a town never seemed to have any particular political leaning to me. I certainly saw much more support for the conservative parties and causes here after growing up in Portsmouth, (also listed on Movoto’s list and defined as a “gayborhood,”) but if I were to come up with a list of towns off the top of my head, I don’t know if I would have picked Keene to be at the top.
Certainly here I’ve never felt threatened when I go out with my girlfriend, or even feel like we’re being looked at differently, but then I really feel that way about much of New Hampshire. I believe that what makes a town livable to LGBTQ people, in addition to acceptance (this is different than tolerance), is people’s willingness to be open to conversation about LGBTQ and other minority issues, which I think is really where the college factor comes in.
One of the great things about universities is there’s always a conversation going, and whether the surrounding community contributes to that conversation makes a big difference. When community members are educated on societal issues, it makes the community not only more open to those minorities, but more accepting and normalizes differences.
A real step towards creating a more accepting society is educating people on issues that minorities face, creating a safer world for groups that are considered second class, whether that’s LGBTQ, women, the disabled, or people of color.
Tori Tucker was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She is a student, author, and activist, and is currently in her senior year at Keene State College where she is finishing her English-Writing BA. In addition to being a writing student Tori also is pursuing minors in music and German.