The Queen of Gainesville

Facing Homelessness from Brenau University (Gainesville, Georgia)

The Story of the Queen City Bridge

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

I have sheltered those who have needed me most.

I have seen Fall turn to Winter, Winter turn to Spring, Spring turn to Summer and fully circle back around.

I have seen the people change as much as the seasons do.

Desperation turns to addiction, addiction turns to rock bottom, rock bottom turns to enlightenment. But this cycle can be hard to break, and I have seen it fail time and time again.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

I shelter many, and it is evident how the years have worn on me.

My columns tell stories.

My arches collect pain.

I am home for the people who have nothing else to call their own.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

Winters have been harsh, pipes have burst, and I have been flooded, leaving my people with nowhere to go until I can become “safe” again.

I have collected couches, tents, and what little personal belongings my people have.

I provide the safety that I can offer even though the entire community views me as dangerous.

My people are viewed as dangerous.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

Words such as “drugs,” “prostitution,” and “death wish” are used to describe me whenever I am mentioned.

People who want to help my people are told, “If you are going under the bridge, make sure you take a gun.”

Police officers patrol my depths.

I am given the reputation of the epitome of danger.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

Now the time has come, my people are being taken away from me.

My people have been deemed as trespassers.

I have been deemed as structurally unsound.

My reign has been deemed over.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

Some of my people have pledged their loyalty and have decided to chain themselves to me.

Others don’t want the help that is being offered to them, they will make their own path from me.

Others still have decided that this is the push that they needed to break free from my rule and make better lives for themselves.

I, however, will be left empty and worrying if my people will be safe.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

This isn’t the first time that my people have been asked to leave.

I have a feeling this won’t be the last.

My followers are loyal.

Barricades and signs will not be enough to stop the people who need me most from returning to me.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

I have fulfilled my duties –  the responsibility of protecting those that need me, and I feel as if it is my time to rest.

I am ready to retire and just be the Queen that was.

My people need help, the people of Gainesville need help.

It is time for the community that fears me to step up and help my people.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

I am ready to see my people succeed.

I want to see the endless cycles finally come to an end.

I crave to see the new season of sobriety given its turn.

I ache to see the end of homelessness in Gainesville.

I am the Queen of Gainesville.

Told By: Cassidy Collier

This story originally appeared in Facing Homelessness in Hall County, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.

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