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PEOPLE MY HELL’S KITCHEN

I became a political refugee Richard Walsh left his home in Alabama as he watched his rights being eroded

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wo months ago, I lived in Mobile, Alabama. Now I live in the Theater District of New York City between 8th and 9th Ave. I’m 51 and this was a forced, lifechanging move. I was run out of Mobile by a bigoted mob with pitchforks and torches. Alabama congressmen wrote legislation that took away my rights as a full citizen of the United States. They ratified that legislation in the State Assembly and gave it to my Governor, Kay Ivey, who signed it into law. It’s called the Religious Freedom Act of Alabama. When I left, my friends, colleagues, and neighbors were poised to elect Roy Moore into the United States Senate. If elected, Roy Moore wanted to make homosexuality illegal.

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I remember saying: “If Trump wins the election, I’m moving to Canada.” I never did move to Canada; instead I drank a lot. It took the signing of the Religious Freedom Act to activate me. So I flew to New York, where the men are men and the women vote Democrat. By the time I arrived in New York, I had destroyed my body with alcohol and drugs and was not able to walk a city block, or climb stairs, and the CVS aisles are super narrow compared to Alabama – I knock something over every time. I became an alcoholic at 51, and yet I have not had a drink since I arrived in NY. Watching the election results in Alabama was like watching a football game, with all the ups and downs, people yelling at the TV, the cheering at the last

DIGITAL EDITION

Pete Hamill on change ―

“We New Yorkers know that we live in a dynamic city, always changing, evolving, building. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. The city’s enduring slogan could be: Get on with it, my friend.”

second victory. It was an amazing night. I'd based my decision to move on this election, and I was wrong about the result. I moved here because I was scared and now I have regrets. New York is cold, wet, and it gets dark at 3:30pm And last month a bomb went off one block away from my apartment, at the subway station I use every day. I honestly don’t know if I qualify as a political refugee. Having laws passed against who you are is a lonely and isolating feeling. But a terrorist attack is an attack against all of us. The danger is shared, the response is united, and the threat came from outside the law, not the law itself. I don't feel alone anymore, so I'm staying.

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W42ST issue 37 - The Change Issue  

Inside: New Yorkers' stories of reinvention, we test the best food kits, read the REAL Broadway reviews, and get a load of our puppies!

W42ST issue 37 - The Change Issue  

Inside: New Yorkers' stories of reinvention, we test the best food kits, read the REAL Broadway reviews, and get a load of our puppies!

Profile for w42st