Why We Still Need Someone Like Deb Price and Her Voice
Posted on November 30, 2020
I was 22-years old, a twink gayling, back in 1992 when Deb Price started writing her column in The Detroit News. Young gay men and women who think it’s tough to be ourselves today don’t know what it was like back then, just as we back then didn’t know how tough it was on the generations before us. Detroit was no San Francisco. The LGBTQ community here didn’t have a voice. Or, if we did, few could hear it. And if there was to be a voice, we knew what the backlash would be. We knew what the masses would say. Yet, despite the uphill battle, a voice did start to speak out; Deb Price’s.
I read Deb Price’s column. I read about her girlfriend/partner/future wife, Joyce. I read about things people talked about or wondered about in hushed whispers, about people who happened to be gay. Deb Price painted a picture of us to readers, and additional newspapers began to carry her column. My mother read her column after I came out. To be fair, Mom may have read it prior to my coming out, but we would discuss some column openly after I did come clean to her about who I was, who I still am. I believe my husband’s father also read a few of her columns. I think he was curious and since he wasn’t a man who asked others about sensitive topics, this was his way of gathering information.
People read. People talked. People listened. And people reacted.
Deb Price has been described as a trailblazer, and I believe that is very much appropriate. She put a face on who we were then, and who we hoped to become. She did this no matter the feedback, and there were some very ugly comments made over the years. There was also support.
Deb Price passed away on November 20th . I had no idea where she’d gone after moving away from Detroit, and was shocked to find out she resided in Hong Kong–a place I have been many times with my husband–and that she worked there for The South China Morning Post, a staple of daily reading in Hong Kong. Her work continued, just in different places and in different capacities. Being a lesbian wasn’t the beginning and end of her life. It was merely a part of it, and a part she shared because the world around us needed to see it.
The younger generations, no matter what their sexual orientation, may wonder if a voice like Deb Price’s is still needed today. Her voice went from singular to a chorus as others joined in, as our voices started to be heard, and we asserted ourselves. The LGBTQ community has made leaps and bounds since 1992, and then much of it came to a thudding halt 4 years ago. Gay bashing became in vogue again, as did telling anyone who looks foreign to “Go back home!”, and the sheer volume of violence against Asians because of what our outgoing President repeatedly, willfully, and all around ignorantly referred to as “the Chinese virus.”
We’re coming away from that in less than two months. We have a chance at civility again. So, with progress once again possible and so many voices out there, do we still need a voice like Deb Price’s? I only needed to read some of the comments left on The Detroit News’s article to arrive at an answer:
Joe J.: Sounds like she was a driving force at some major news orgs. We all knew there was major mental instability in the news industry. This just proves that point..
Terry P: I am not gay, been married to the same lady for 33 years. I have a perpetual sore back. In case anyone cares about some normal guy. What? You don’t? Why does anyone give a rats behind about these people, go away already.
B_G.: I’m pretty excited about my heterosexuality. Anybody mind if I write about nothing else? That’s what I thought.
Joe P: While law enforcement officers are hated, conservative Christians are hated, reprobates such as this are proclaimed as heroes by many because they have the so-called courage to push their evil agenda into people’s faces.
Mike T: Hopefully she repented of her sins before she died
The answer is yes. We still have a great deal more to do. We may get there one day, but not without more just like Deb Price.
RIP. Your work is done. Ours is just beginning.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.