Intolerance of homosexuals is an unacceptable problem

Josh Bell

Josh Bell

I always figured Brookings was a fairly open city. Growing up in a town of 100 people makes this town seem like a metropolis in comparison, especially when it comes to any types of diversity. White Christians are very different than the rainbow variety of SDSU and the city of Brookings. I have been out as a gay man for nearly five years, and never thought being different was really any sort of problem.

In December, I mentioned to a friend (another gay male) how open I found Brookings in relationship to our homosexual lifestyle. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow and a flabbergasted, agape mouth. He went on to tell me a story about him dancing with a male, heterosexual friend at a bar. Someone proceeded to throw a beer bottle at him, opening a gash in his forehead. This story took me by surprise, and I honestly didn’t know what to say. I just took a second and let this idea of potential danger linger.

Then last week, another gay friend called me to tell me a car driving by him on Main Avenue yelled “faggot” at him out the window. Of course, they waited until they had driven past him, yelling back in his direction. He told me he wanted to key their car, and I told him not to continue the cycle of violence. The two of us continued to talk about this event and the previous one mentioned, wondering why people didn’t speak out about it.

I personally have never had a problem with being openly gay here in the city. My last boss hired me knowing it, and none of the other people I have met in the last few years, in passing or in friendship, mind my semi-flamboyant behavior. Granted, some people don’t think being gay is right for personal or religious reasons, and I can’t fault them for their points of view. However, I do fault people who aren’t tolerant of my views as well.

Since moving here in 2004, I have met various types of people, and the diversity has been grand. Not only have I met a variety of other gay people, I have met diverse races, people of varied religions and all sorts of personalities. Some of them have become my friends, and some of them don’t like me all that much. That is just how life works. None of these people I come across care that I like other men, and very few push their own beliefs on me.

Amendment C banned gay marriage in South Dakota. HB 1144, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to South Dakota’s discrimination policy, got tabled in February. It feels to me like South Dakota is almost going backwards when it comes to just accepting the people around them.

Our lives aren’t that different than everyone else’s. We eat. We breathe. We shop. We love. We vote. We have families who care about us. We have disagreements. How different is feeling how we feel toward our partners different from someone who loves the opposite gender? Especially when the fact of sexuality deals only with the two people involved and has little to no effect on the people around them.

These random acts of intolerance just seem out of place. With this diverse population, people should accept the differences, or at the very least, if they can’t accept them, they can ignore them and just tolerate them. In the end, I wanted people to know what is happening right outside their door. Maybe, more people could speak out and no one will have to hear about a friend being harassed because of a few intolerant people.