From yesterday’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle comes the following letter. I thought it would be online today, but apparently it is not. I’ve transcribed it for your convenience.
To the Montana Gay Pride group and Tom Marsh, director:
A few questions:
Why do you have to openly march on the streets of Bozeman? Not all people flaunt their lifestyles before the public. Can’t you quietly live your lives the way we do? Just live the lifestyle you’ve chosen and keep quiet. If everyone with grievances to air acted like your group, our news media would be very busy.
Why were you unhappy before you came out? Why does it please you that Bozeman officials condone your actions? Can’t you live among us and remain silent and happy?
I don’t know where to begin. But I will say, Tom Marsh is a dear friend- and I don’t respond well when people personally attack my friends.
So, I’ve taken more than a day to formulate a few salient points in a letter:
You asked a lot of questions in your letter to the editor in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on October 21st, 2011. I would like to address them
People do not choose their sexual orientation. They acknowledge it. It is not a mental or physical illness to identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered or Intersex. Both the American Psychological Association and The American Medical Association agree with me- and they have for decades. Science is with me on this. Firmly.
We openly march, because we have to. Somewhere there is a child who doesn’t understand that people don’t choose their sexual orientation- and that child may grow up miserable, tortured and conflicted. And, according to statistics, will probably think about and attempt to take their lives as a result of that conflict and torture. I did. We march so that people will see that it is a part of the human condition to be LGBT. We are your neighbors, members of your family, in every occupation and human situation you can think of. We’re here, and it’s okay to be. And we march because there are still people who think it’s okay to hate us. We march so that maybe those people will realize that we are not monsters. We are human beings. And maybe there will be less children who think that God hates them, or that they’re less than other children simply because they are LGBT. If so, then one little annual parade is a small thing….
We would love to live our lives quietly- but there are laws (and lack thereof) and attitudes that prevent that. We don’t always feel safe. We aren’t always treated with dignity and respect. We don’t have equal protection under the law. Believe you me, I would love nothing more than to live my life quietly- and I will- when I am treated like every other person in this country and this state- because it’s hard to live a normal life when there are people just like me who are threatened with violence all over this country. It’s hard to live a happy life when you’re afraid.
If you want to know why we were unhappy before we came out, it’s pretty simple: because we were lying. Lying makes people unhappy. Stopping the lie is cause for celebration. And so we march and dance and celebrate being honest together.
And yes, it pleases us that Bozeman officials recognize the struggle to live a normal life in the face of being labelled a freak by a significant part of society. It pleases us to not be seen as freaks. Because we’re not. We’re just human beings who love and work and struggle just like you, Alice. Human beings of faith, spirit and purpose. Human beings with families and pets and houses and churches and favorite restaurants.
I also wonder if, in your letter, you substituted the word “Christian” or “Irish” or “Black” or “Woman” or “Immigrant” for the word “Gay”, would you feel the same?
We do live among you. We do. And we’re not going to do it silently. That’s not how a democracy works. I live in The United States of America, and I have a right to free speech- as do you. Silence is not an option. Because you have written the above letter to a public newspaper, I’m sure you understand.
If you have any other questions, I will be happy to answer them as openly and honestly as I can.
D Gregory Smith, stl, MA
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Write your own Letter to the Editor of The Bozeman Daily chronicle here.
Update: Online version of the letter (with a place to comment) here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a lovely letter, and I hope she asks you more questions.
“Can’t you live among us and remain silent and happy?”
Alice, if you will join us in the fight side-by-side until we attain equality in the country of our births, I can assure we can live among you and be happy. If you want me to be silent, you will have to vow to work your hardest to secure equality for every person in our country. When I am an equal and don’t have to live in fear of receiving “special treatment” — e.g., bullying, physical and psychological brutality, and even killing — you won’t hear from again.
But until then, get you a set of ear plugs because I will not be silent!
I think it’s pretty bad that there are still people out there who are ignorant to the outside world and it’s issues. I just wish people can learn to be more open minded when it comes to dealing with others in all walks of life.
wow. most excellent letter – but I expected no less than that from you!! thank you so much.
Greg, what a wonderful reply! A friend from Bozeman posted this on their FB and I was delighted to see that it was you. I love it when beautiful people like you help the rest of us with your clarity. Love at you from Washington.
I love that you responded, Lori!
And love to you and yours (from me and mine)!
Great letter Greg! Something I’d like to ad is that through media, weddings-the privileges that come with them and heteronormativity they (heterosexuals, cisgender people) flaunt their lifestyles EVERYDAY… which is pretty much a parade everyday.
Apparently, GBLT folk are like children. They should be seen and not heard. Well, maybe they shouldn’t be seen either …
I didn’t read that letter until this morning, and I was frankly gobsmacked. Many thoughts went through my head, including that marching in a Homecoming parade is a lifestyle choice. Marching for equal rights to live as everyone else isn’t so much. But the consistent thought bending my reason was that this woman is begging Gay people to help her ignore their very existence. I could write volumes about my revulsion to that entire twisted concept.
Terrific response, D. I look forward to the responses in the paper that the Comical seems willing to print. Thankfully, they remain somewhat sympathetic as long as our mayor is an advocate for GBLT rights.
This is when I wish I could transport myself. I would go and sit with Alice for hours over coffee and tell her stories of the people I have come to love. I understand her complaints to some degree: I too was there . I believed what others told me about “them” because it was easier and because it came form the mouths of people I respected.
It was only when I finally came in close relationship with a person who is now my closest friend, that I dared to risk questioning my church and social culture.
So, I would sit with her and tell her about the things that I finally had to understand, the first of which is : sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Then I would talk to her about how God has lead me me along this path and what I have seen. I would encourage her to befriend glbt people.
The temptation would be to call her all kinds of names, but that will not help. Alice is the sad victim of misinformation. If she is white, Evangelical and in the Tea Party, Alice is acting like 3/4 of her peers. For her to stray from the pack, it would be brave and she would need a reason–like a gay grandchild or child.
And Alice, if you do read this blog, come on over to canyonwalkerconnections.com and engage me. I write to folks like you because I was you. But now, I see no distinction between me and my gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender brothers and sisters in legal arenas or before God. I would also say, I you read you Bible without your biases, you will see that God LOVES these His children EQUALLY. THAT to me, is all the endorsement I need to fight for the FULL equality and inclusion of my gay, lesbian , bisexual and transgender fellow humans. Heck, Alice, I will be there next summer; have me over for the cup of coffee. Let’s chat.
…and that’s why I love you, Kathy…
Thank you D Gregory Smith for responding to Alice and all who think similar to her. It is because of the Alices of the world, my own personal experiences of having to question the beliefs of my peers, my religion and myself that have led me to this place of Co-Chairing and facilitating the PFLAG chapter in the Tricities, WA. I grew up in Livingston, and my parents are still there – I have a sister and a nephew in Belgrade and it made me smile to know that there are people in my “hometown” area that love people; all people; as much as I do. To see the comments of the many others who “get” why it’s important to be a visual presence and to be proud of who you are, fills my heart with joy. It’s a hard thing to understand when you are in a position of privilege, being a heterosexual however I would think that Alice being a woman would understand how important it is to fight for equal rights – of course it’s possible that if she’s from an earlier generation that may be exactly what she was told to do – just be quiet and be happy with your life…….lucky for her – women out there did the exact opposite.
Thank you for being a voice that rings with truth!
I never debate equality because we were born with unalienable rights and our constitutional rights must be unconditional. We do not need any heterosupremacist tyrannical theocRAT cultists to approve of us, agree with us, accept, respect, tolerate or understand us.
“Alice Cooper?” “Belgrade?” What are the editorial staff of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle – asleep at the switch? Trained chimps? Does the BDC require letters to the editor to have a phone number, in order to verify authorship?
Actually, The Bozeman Comical does require a phone number when submitting a letter to Ed. Whether or not they verify remains open to question, but also beside the point. Whether “Alice Cooper” is her real name or not, the point of offense is the ignorance displayed, not the ignorant who offered it.
Great response, I totally agree with it all, but question of clarification. Is this the same Alice Cooper of rocker fame?
If so, it’s a man not a woman, if not…then kinda weird coincidence. Just curious more than anything if anyone knows if it is the same guy, I know he is a pretty vocal Christian, so that would make a certain amount of sense.
Thanks for writing- and this is a woman – not the rocker.
We’re sure. 🙂
Cool, thanks for the clarification. Odd coincidence :).
Greg, your letter was so on the mark. And I would echo what Mija would add. We march because we still can’t even hold hands in public without fear as every hetero gets to do boldly any day, any where, and in anybody’s ‘face’. Don’t get me started on the other hetero-privileged PDAs and their freedom to publicly prattle on about their relationships and significant others and have pictures of them embracing on their desks at work, etc…
SO SO good is your reply! (Yoda) XOXO
Would Alice condemn St. Patrick’s Day parades?
Regarding one of the comments here, Belgrade actually is a city in Montana.
If you’re moved to respectfully disagree then please send your letters TO the Chronicle for their publication and not just leave them here or elsewhere. /The “comments” section after the letter has generally been that way, but only a few people read those. Better to get some reminders of (most of) what has been said here in print.
I think the “public officials” were out in front of the city as a whole in their passage of equal protections and support for the couples’ lawsuit which reflects Bozeman’s own HR policies as well as those of the university in town. So it’s not a bad idea to see a few reasonable rebuttals in print. There are still many minds to change.
We care to change minds because that’s how progress is made, one person at a time.