How a homophobic comment by a public figure can have a far-reaching and devastating effect.
It seems like a million years ago that I was an introverted, closeted lesbian, forced to spend every day in a suffocating classroom, in a rural farm community. Looking at me now, you would probably never know that I came from a primarily white, protestant, homophobic town in Southeast Michigan. Now, I confidently wear a James Dean-esque haircut and boxer briefs, but, just six years ago, I was struggling to come out in a high school where it was commonplace for prominent gay figures to be slandered.
There’s an exact moment that I will never forget. Sitting in my senior practical law class, I meekly attempted to justify to my peers the idea of gay marriage. My teacher, an incredible, liberal man, who seemed just as out of place in that school as I did, sided with me, but a young man sitting three rows behind me blurted out, "Gays. Disgusting. Why should they be able to get married?" I lowered my eyes and mumbled about celebrities, like Ellen, paving the way for equality in this country. His response: "That dyke."
That moment marked a downward spiral in my youth. This was the first time I had taken a stand on marriage equality in front of my classmates, and the reaction was negative, to say the least. I struggled for the remainder of my senior year, defending myself against violent threats and verbal abuse.
When I read an article this week on Advocate.com about Tricia Macke, a news anchor on the local Fox station in Cincinnati, referring to Rachel Maddow as "such an angry young man" on her Facebook page, I was outraged. When a fan asked her (in the comments) to apologize, she passive-aggressively said, "… I'm sorry. I should have said antagonistic." Continue reading...
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