But we will!
This news comes from Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project. When a member of one of TEP’s divisions submitted this letter to the Herald-Citizen out of Cookeville, Tennessee, he was told that they wouldn’t publish it because they are a “family values newspaper.” You see, in small Tennessee towns like Cookeville, LGBT youth are simply not part of families. This is evidenced, of course, by the number of gay teens in Tennessee and nationwide who become homeless when their parents kick them out like discarded trash. Out of sight, out of mind — it’s the Southern Christian way, ain’t it, y’all? Here is Shayne Bilbrey’s letter:
It’s okay to be Gay
High school graduation is just around the corner, and well over a thousand Putnam County students will be graduating this year. Most of them had the normal teenage years, goingto prom with the person they love, getting that first kiss, or getting their driver’s license at sixteen. Yet for some kids that dream was a long shot, because some of this year’s graduates are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual. Most of these students couldn’t have that dream life, because they were usually the primary targets for bullying. The bullying would vary from daily taunting such as being called a “fag” or a “queer.” The students usually behind the bullying would often cite the bible, or what their preacher told them. This is very troubling for that, in a society that values individualism, we can’t honor these kids fundamental right to let them be whoever they want to be and to be with. I know that when I came out, during my senior year in high school, I was faced with some backlash, but even before that I was called many names, and felt at times that I was worthless, which is similar to how some of these students feel. It hurts to be bullied at school, but to be bullied in your own home is incomprehensible. Thankfully, I have a family who loves me for who I am, and for which I am blessed for. Yet, it saddens me when I hear of some of my friends, which have come out to their parents, have had to face ridicule from their own parents. Some parents go as far as to disowning their own child, calling them a failure, and sending them to a gay to straight camp. I don’t understand why a parent would do such a thing, but sadly it happens a lot. Well I‘m here to say that, things will and do get better, granted they’re still some that disagree, but it does get better. We should all be able to value ourselves, love others, and be able to accept all for whom they are. We are all God’s children, and he loves us all in the same way. So if you are Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual, and bisexual, it’s okay to be you, and be proud of who you are, and will become. Love, cherish, and embrace thy own self.
If you’d like to [respectfully] let the editor of the Herald-Citizen know that you are gay, were once or are now a teen, and that you are indeed part of a family, especially if you hail from the South, that e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can visit their Facebook page. Either. Both.
God, Tennessee, get with it.