News that Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame bought the Washington Post guarantees we'll soon be awash in articles on the newspaper industry's decline and evolution in the internet age. And, yes, the newspaper industry has suffered. That's a no-brain that I'll let others discuss that elsewhere.
For now, I'd like to recognize small papers and their local op-ed pages, where average citizens sound off on equality and same-sex marriage, just as Americans have done for generations. Small local papers have historically been and in some lucky places continue to be essential vehicles for serious social debate of controversial topics. Sometimes the contemporary comments are anti-gay, but those are rarely fun. Instead I find inspiration in the positive missives, the letters to the editor or op-eds in which men and women living on Main Street defend or celebrate inclusion.
This letter, from Harold W. Cagle of Gadsden, Alabama, is neither a defense or a celebration. It's a matter-of-fact rebuttal to homophobic local preacher Rev. Chuck Conley's decision to cut ties between his CrossPoint Church and the Boy Scouts of America, a group Conley hates for including gay Scouts. "At this point we choose not to associate with the Scouts. We feel like the Boy Scouts of America have left us," Conley said at the time. He was one of many religious leaders to plead that selfish case.
"This action punishes young children who had nothing to do with the decision," Cagle writes in his letter in the Gadsden Times. His is just one of many letters written for and against Conley's discriminatory position. But Cagle's contribution stands out for two reasons. One, it's deliciously dry. And, two, it speaks to one of my favorite aspects of LGBT existence, its inherent diversity.
"We have young homosexuals and old homosexuals. We have homosexuals of all races, all religions, all branches of the military. We even have homosexual preachers. If you know 100 people, you know a homosexual. If you have completed 12 years of school, you have had at least one homosexual teacher.
"'Openly gay' individuals make up a small percentage of the total homosexual community. Most homosexuals are “in the closet” and do not display any mannerisms. They can be your best friend, neighbor, co-worker or any other of the people you know.
"Homosexuals are here to stay. If you feel that they are sinful or “scum of the earth” or need punishing, then let God do it. He can do it so much better than you."
It remains unclear whether Cagle is straight or gay, but he's certainly fabulous.