Fitz Webb didn’t see a lot of people who looked like them while growing up in Georgia.
But Webb, who uses the pronouns they, them and theirs, wants to change the representation by becoming Georgia’s first non-binary senator in the future. Currently, Webb is an Auburn University graduate student, vice president of Pride on the Plains (an LGBTQ+ organization serving Auburn, Opelika and the surrounding areas). Webb is also known to many as drag king Tucker Wright.
According to the North-Carolina based organization Campaign for Southern Equality, more LGBTQ people call the South home than any other region in the country. However, of the 3.6 million southern LGBTQ adults, 93 percent of them say they live in a state with laws that negatively impact them.
So 25-year-old Webb recently spoke to Reckon about how to build an LGBTQ-inclusive South as part of our Young, Southern and Black series which focuses on African American Southerners under 30 helping shape the region that raised them.
How do you feel about your future in the South?
You know how a magician reveals their trick at the end? It feels like the tricks have been revealed in 2020. The smoke and mirrors are gone. A lot of ambiguity that maybe I’ve felt about my future in previous years, I don’t necessarily feel it anymore and it makes me a little scared. I realized now there are people who have biases that genuinely impact my life and livelihood and that sucks.
Learning those things have been really hard in 2020, especially in the South. Seeing the intentional ignorance, it really is a tough thing to stomach. Patience, I am learning, is very important, but it doesn’t take any of the hurt away.
I do have hopes for the South for sure. I grew up in Columbus, Georgia and we moved to Harris County, Georgia. Both Columbus and Harris County both ended up being blue. I’ve been over the moon. I actually was in tears.
I told my sisters: “How powerful do you feel as Black women that this has happened?”
And then here I am in Alabama where (Tommy) Tuberville clearly won and so did Trump. It was a lot of disappointment and hurt. But to see my hometown prevail was so relieving and it made me feel that there is hope for the South. If anything, several years back, when Stacey Abrams was running for governor and I volunteered a couple of hours for her campaign, it made that work feel so much more to me. Little drops make big waves.
I told my sisters (in Georgia) to give themselves a hand. I feel like there is a lot of hope for the South and I feel like I’m a part of that. Me and my younger sister plan to go to law school. My hopes are to go to Georgia State and end up in civil rights and then one day end up in Georgia Senate. Only time will tell.
I used to say, “I want to be president.” But now that I’m an adult, I realize I didn’t mean president. I meant speaker of the house or a judge.
One of my biggest hopes is to see more of an acceptance of listening. I feel like a lot of people disregard queer, or brown or people of color based off of their religious beliefs. I was raised Catholic and I feel like now, more than anything, one of the reasons I strayed so far from the church is because of the treatment of queer people.
My hope is that one of these days, there will be a clear separation of church and state when it comes to legal matters. As a Southern community, may it be the state of Georgia or my hometown, I hope that there’s growth towards acceptance and understanding. We can disagree about how you’re taxed, but we cannot disagree about someone’s human rights.
What does progress look like to you in the South?
More legislation getting passed that leans more towards equity. I know the term equity looks different for different people. So, I can’t say specific bills. Also, more open conversations from community leaders because I know there are people with very strong ideologies that are near and dear to them, but not all of them are the safest.
(We need) an increase in cultural competency. I think that progress will look like learning how to include that in education and insert that (information) in curriculums or in the other ways we function in our day-to-day lives. Like people are wearing name tags that say, “Hello, my name is this” and all of a sudden there’s a pronoun section added. Just little things, but for me, those are very big things.
For example, on my diploma for graduation, they didn’t have a Mx. (suffix). I’m not a Mr. I’m not a Ms. I’m not a Dr. I emailed my professor and they were like, “Let me talk to the grad school about it.” My diploma came back, and there it was: Mx.
I was sobbing. That meant so much to me. There was literally no way to be recognized. I had to choose one or the other and I’m not either. So, that identity crisis and the level of respect that isn’t there. So I feel like progress looks like hearing someone out, seeing how you can incorporate that, make amends or find a way to respect that person, and then enacting that.
What brings you Black Joy?
Just seeing Black drag queens and Black transwomen succeed. Just seeing Black, queer people and Black women – I guess you can say seeing a compound minority – succeeding and being loved on, it is so heart warming and refreshing. I don’t feel like I see it a lot.
I remember seeing Laverne Cox on a Netflix documentary about queer representation on TV, and I just wanted to cry because people are appreciating us and taking the time to listen and see people. That definitely brings me Black joy.
It matters to me because I can’t tell you how many times in my life when someone told me, “That’s great, but I think you should aim for this instead.”
They sell me short or just count me out. From sports to school spelling bees, since I was a kid that was common for me. I remember going to Auburn was kind of foreign because my school was located in a small town and we didn’t make very much. I would have [gone] to Columbus State and probably would have been a nurse or something.
But I pushed, and I pushed and I pushed (to go to Auburn). I was very fortunate to have teachers who were there to me when I was put down and people who lifted me up. But there’s always someone telling me, “Hey, you know, you’re always going to be two steps behind. Why don’t you shoot for this instead?” or “People aren’t going to really like what you’re doing. So you should shoot for this instead or maybe we just go down a different path.”
I had to really heal my inner child and tell myself I can do things because it got to the point now when I said, “Well, can I do this?”
I bought a house at 23. I had so many people tell me I was crazy. I said, “Well, call me crazy then. I bought a house.”
But it is tough because you want to be supported. So to see, Black people, Black queer people, Black women, etc. being successful, it makes you feel like the top isn’t lonely. They are loved and respected and cherished. That’s everything. It lessens the tensions I had with being queer.
Who inspires you from the South?
Stacey Abrams. I will never forget when she ran against Kemp. I thought that was such a boss move. In my head I was thinking, “How do I get to be that person who runs for governor.” And I learned that you just do.
To see the support she has behind her and the grace and diligence, I remember falling for her and thinking, “Who is this person?”
I remember Googling her all the time and wondering how do I get to be Stacey. Now, I realized that I want to be myself and I am really inspired by Stacey.
If you’re Black, under 30 and have something to say about the future of the South, email Reckon reporter Starr Dunigan at email@example.com. You can also reach her via Twitter and Facebook. While you’re at it, consider joining the Black Magic Project Facebook group, where we talk about topics concerning Black, southern community and culture.