I have to admit something I did from ignorance, as a local freelance reporter.
I covered the Assembly of God’s Teacher Appreciation Day, and noted that they were showing a film from James Dobson’s Focus On The Family Organization.
It was a very funny film, about a very good teacher. Toward the end of the film, the man touched upon his own religious beliefs, but it was not heavily emphasized. He mentioned the apostle Paul, which made my hackles go up, but I don’t suppose the man was thinking about the things Paul said about women. At least I hope not.
I’m sure the congregation meant nothing kindness toward our local teachers, who work so very hard, with so few resources. The congregation runs the local food bank (I helped them write grants for funding). They are kind, open-hearted, decent people. I am also sure — or at least I hope — that they don’t know about James Dobson’s horrible attitude toward gay people (That link goes to his own words, or his ghostwriter’s).
All I can say is that I apologize for mentioning the film in the article. I do not support these attitudes toward gay people, and the horrible things they can lead to. But as a journalist, I do my best to cover the local scene. I didn’t cover the meeting to support Dobson. I covered it because some very kind people wanted to reach out to our teachers and say “thank you.”
I’m not a professional reporter. I fill in around here because this community is so far from just about anyplace else, including its neighboring hamlets — there is no other word, except perhaps (literally) bend-in-the-road — of Neah Bay, Joyce, and the ghostly Pysht (no, it’s not pronounced like that).
I refuse to accept thanks from the local folks for, as one reader said, putting them on the map. The papers pay me to get these photos and articles. Would a fiction writer voluntarily write mind-numbing articles about block-watches and the process of grant-writing to get a roof on the grocery story — complete with boring stacks of population percentages and funding-dollars numbers — if she wasn’t being paid for it?
I don’t believe the rural people up here hate gays, or would try to hurt them, at least not directly. It’s not because there are not gay people here, or coming through as tourists. People are polite, and they’re not mean.
But I’ve heard their kids yell “faggot” at boys, and one father told his girl who wanted art classes that, “Art is for sissies.”
Racism crawls under the surface. People blame the Indians for everything, and will drag it into any discussion about facing our (you know whom I mean by “our”) shortcomings. Dealing with flooding locally, I shook my head and said, “What kind of idiot builds below ground in a floodplain in a tidal area?”
A member of the Emergency Operations Center team immediately hinted that the people in New Orleans were at fault for building below sea-level, and earned their own suffering. I think we all know New Orleans was originally positioned by whites for war, who brought in blacks as slaves.
Do rural people hate gay people? I don’t know about around here. Everybody up here knows I won’t put up with anybody saying anything bad about gay people. They soon find out I won’t put up with racism, and stop trying it.
They know it’s wrong — but are they thinking and acting upon it?