So it’s a good thing, really, that Chico hot springs isn’t closer. The S.O. and I spent a long weekend and plenty of pocket change there after attending a wedding in Bozeman.
Chico had copies of the Billings Gazette on its coffee tables, and there I read about a wedding in England that reminded me of happenings around Missoula. A Very Important gay Person in England got hitched, and in a Very Important Place. That story here. (Matching solid purple ties? Really??)
There’s no wedding planned for Council Chambers as far as I know, but there is a hearing coming up on the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance. Ryan Morton, a native Missoulian and frequent commenter on Red Tape, forwarded his letter to Mayor John Engen and the Missoula City Council about the proposal. It’s to protect folks from being booted from homes and jobs because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
I’ve pasted his letter below. Again, thanks to folks who are using their real first and last names to comment; please don’t call people names in this sandbox. Without further ado, Morton’s letter:
“Council Members and Mayor (and anyone else who ends up reading this):
I am queer, 31 year old male. I spent over a decade suffering from internalized homophobia because of overwhelming intolerance of homosexuality socially and in a religious context. After all those years of hating myself because of my sexuality, I finally came out to myself. Relief? Not exactly. I’ve spent nearly another decade recovering from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety due to years of self-hatred and the homophobia from others. I am just one type of person your ordinance could protect, but my story is not unusual.
From birth, the ideas of sex, gender, and sexuality are pounded into people – regardless of whether any particular person fits the common, heterosexual model. So, most of us ‘queers’ first learn homophobia early on in life. At puberty, homophobia becomes internalized when youth don’t understand why they have same-sex urges. Coupled with social and religious ‘teachings,’ teenagers become prone to mental illness or worse barbaric ‘treatments’ to make them ‘not-gay.’ Gay teens are at some of the highest risks for suicide.
For others, their genital sex doesn’t seem to fit. I can’t imagine the confusion and struggle they go through growing up. I remember the story of Brandon Teena who was raped and killed by his friends – his friends – when they discovered he was female-to-male (FTM). I have been blessed to have several FTM friends in Missoula and have heard their stories of discrimination time and time again. What a wonderful group of people to bless the city of Missoula with their presence!
For intersexed children, their parents and doctors often sex the child at birth without any particular rhyme or reason. These people sometimes grow up discovering that their parents and doctors made the wrong choice and have to seek sex re-assignment.
Anyhow, if one is lucky enough to make it through school and enter the real world, they end up navigating relationships, careers, and, yes, decisions about bathrooms often in hiding not wanting to be recognized as different. This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘passing.’
Why do LGBTIQ people feel the need to ‘pass?’ The answer is simple: discrimination. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. God hates faggots.
One way to curb discrimination is through the ordinance you are considering. People have the right to have discriminatory thoughts, but acting them out in a way that hurts people is unacceptable. Please pass this ordinance and state definitively that it is NOT ok to discriminate on the grounds of sex, gender, sexuality, or any other unprotected class of citizens.
As far as the potty crusaders are concerned, if this ordinance fails because of some argument about heterosexual pedophiles who think cross-dressing will permit them bathroom entry, I’m going to be one nasty, screaming queen. As someone who has shared a restroom and locker room with many a cross-dresser, drag queen, and FTM, I have NO concern about bathroom entry. Trolling for young children in bathrooms and locker rooms is a nasty stereotype that is so intolerable, I can’t think of anything else to do but laugh at people who think that way. So many LGBTIQ people are loving, caring parents, teachers, public safety officers, and more who constantly look out for the GOOD of children – not to prey on them. Some of my best years were spent teaching children English as a Second Language around the world – never a thought to sexually prey upon them. There simply is no link between being LGBTIQ and being a pedophile. It’s completely nonsensical. Oh, and as a former Boy Scout – I could have really used a queer mentor at that time in my life. Really.
The discrimination is real. The fear surrounding the ordinance is simply smoke and mirrors – a perspective held in deeply rooted beliefs that society should only be structured around a heterosexual reality. Look through the smoke and mirrors and pass the ordinance to make a real difference in Missoula. I had planned to testify at the hearing, but may not be able to make it.
Hope you are well.
— Keila Szpaller