Pretty much a living hell
I was born and raised here.
I don't recommend it. I love religious people but the religious culture here is so suffocating. I felt like I couldn't breath or be myself till I moved away. There's a lot of Protestants. The people who aren't protestant learn to keep to themselves very quickly. Folks are very openly hateful to anyone who doesn't fit the southern Baptist narrative. My friend was bullied for being Catholic by both the children and the teachers.
A lot of teen pregnancy, teen shot gun weddings to "hide" said pregnancies. It's all very disturbing. Bullying is a regular thing. Metal detectors in the school's. Sexual harassment is normal and expected for teen girls. I got used to having my boobs and butt grabbed without my consent in the open school hallways at 12. It was also at 12 that I learned if I tried to do anything about it the teachers would roll their eyes at me and chastise me for "crying" about it.
This is not a good place for gay people and a worse place for transgender people. The black community is pretty miserable and rightfully frustrated. But I get the sense that they think this is normal in the United States but I know otherwise because moving away I've witnessed black people being treated with more kindness.
There's a very real sense of folks with no money or power feeling "trapped" in Longview. They want to get away and move but can't. I don't think many people live here as a choice.
There's not a lot for kids to do to have fun so they resort to sex and substance abuse.
BI-ANNUAL bomb threats at school. Metal detectors. Teachers will cut the students locks off to search the lockers and won't replace them. Policemen and police dogs show up to school pretty regularly. There's not a lot of resources for students with depression or struggling with mental illness. A kid told the class he wanted to kill himself. A student shouted "then do it already!" The class laughed at him and the teacher carries on as if it's the most normal thing. Student who tells him to do it is not even talked to after class. It left very a big impression on me as a kid.
So much poverty and a sense of hopelessness surrounds this town as if it's cursed. Avoid downtown. Not a safe place. Bullet holes in Windows are normal.
When I left I didn't even feel home sick. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I used to think that way of life was normal in the USA but I found a place that wasn't like that. I really recommend staying away unless you're into that kind of thing for some reason or you have an out planned. Because getting stuck in Longview it's not something you want to have to deal with. Especially if you have kids. Don't do that to them.
Al | San Antonio, TX