Sometimes it can be so hard to say the right thing. And sometimes you are just so fed up and angry and worried for your kids that your mama bear comes out in full force and you say exactly what needs to be said, word for word. Even if there are some swear words. That’s what happened for Jessee Graham last week. The Columbia, Tennessee, mom of four attended a local library board meeting and spoke up about book banning and homophobia in her hometown.
And she tore the house down.
Here’s the background: In Maury County, Tennessee, the public library put up a Pride Month display in June — and it sparked a huge debate surrounding book banning, LGTBQ rights, and freedom of speech. The conservative right, led by Maury County commissioner Aaron Miller, began bullying the library director, Zachary Fox, who also ran a family-friendly drag brunch at his place of business (a brewery, not a library). He finally resigned after months of pressure, causing even more of an uproar in the community.
At the next Board of Trustees meeting, community members spoke up about the ongoing controversy, but when Graham took the mic, it was time for the book banners, homophobes, and bad Christians to run for cover.
“I have never been sexually assaulted in a drag show, but I have been at church,” she shouted to applause. “Twice.”
Keith Edwards posted a segment of the fiery speech on Twitter, where it quickly started going viral.
“Our town has never seen such homophobic crap since Miller came along, and I’m sick of it,” she began. “[The LGBTQ community] have been with us the entire time and we’ve never had a problem with it. They’ve never done any of the vile and disgusting things that that man and his weird cronies have put on their map.”
The she moves on to talking point number two: freedom of speech and hypocrisy.
“This should have stopped at the United States of America where we have free speech, but it didn’t,” she seethed. “And it so ironic that [Miller] served in the military, that grantees us these freedoms. And he’s here, moved from another place, to tell us that a community that we love, that we are related to, that we are friends with, that babysit our kids, that they are dangerous. And that’s bullsh—t.”
Next up, tearing down the biggest problem with the Christian right:
“And I’m so sick of listening to this weird fake pious crap about Christianity being the reason that we have to protect the kids,” she continued. “Jesus didn’t go anywhere and condemn people. He did not ever walk into any place and spew hatred and lies. And completely annihilate a group of people who just want to exist.”
You can also watch the original TikTok video, with her full three-minute statement, which was posted by a local LGBT activist in Tennessee who has been closely following the drama in Columbia.
“If any of my four children were part of this [gay] community they will be lucky because there are not a whole lot of families who will love unconditionally, and who would seek out knowledge for them to understand their minds and their bodies,” she said. “The fact that they want to take that away from children — that is disgusting. That is child abuse. It’s child to tell your child they are wrong for feeling, that they don’t belong.”
And then this zinger:
“You don’t need need a moral compass to tell something is wrong when it immediately hurts other people.”
Finally, the closer.
“Why are we even here? Why does hate even have a platform? I am so tired of these straight white ‘Christian’ males, who are already at the top of the food chain, acting like somebody is out to get them. People just want to exist. Leave them alone!”
With that, she literally blows the audience a kiss and leaves the podium. Equal rights queen!
If you’re thinking the same thing that I am — that she should run for office immediately — there’s a bit of bad news. The guy who originally shot the video reported back that she wants to stay only as an advocate and ally.
People put their full support behind Graham in the comments:
“I don’t know who this is, but I’m gonna need her to be elected President,” one popular comment read.
“This speaker is totally authentic and unrehearsed…she is speaking what she has observed and held back…until now,” another wrote.
“As a queer person myself, you will never fully understand just how much this truly means to us,” another wrote on follow-up video.
As it stands, the fight rages on in Maury County, Tennessee, where LGBTQ books are missing from the library and freedom of speech is under fire. If you want to help, local activists suggest donating the missing books back to the library — or to donate one to your own public library.