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  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS A homosexual like you...
by Paul Dombrowski
2013-11-06

This article shared 3816 times since Wed Nov 6, 2013
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The bell had rung, it was the end of a very typical day at my northwest suburban Chicago school, my clothes and hands were stained with paint as I had just filtered through 125 students ( first through sixth grades ) through my art class. I left through the school office telling everyone I'd see them tomorrow.

My car was parked in the usual spot on the street directly in front of the school, no more than 25 yards from the front doors. I unlocked my car and slid into the driver's seat, put my seat belt on and key in the ignition. I looked up and spotted a fold up piece of salmon colored paper tucked under my windshield wiper. I grabbed the note, unfolded it and read it. This is what the note said;

"Homosexuals like you shouldn't be around children or adolescents. You should give up your post."

My mind raced, I reread the note, and I was rattled.

"Homosexuals like you shouldn't be around children or adolescents. You should give up your post."

My heart was racing, I took the note and went back into the school office. I showed the note to the school secretary, my principal, and a colleague who happened to be there. Their mouths fell open in surprise and disbelief. My principal advised me to call the police; unfortunately, I couldn't. I had kids waiting for me at the high school where I tech direct their theater productions. I promised I would file a report after I was done at the high school.

My mind raced. I couldn't stop thinking about the note. Who was the hateful author? Was it a parent of one of my students? Was it someone I worked with? Was it someone who noticed the small rainbow sticker I have on the bumper of my car? The message of the note wasn't terribly upsetting—being a gay man in my 50s, I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years. The fact that this was an act that was just meant to hurt someone, and it was delivered in the most cowardly way, was the thing that bothered me most. Have we just gone back in time to the 1970s, when Anita Bryant and her "Save Our Children" movement wanted all LGBT teachers to be hunted down, removed from the classroom and fired?

As I reread the bigoted, hateful note over again, one phrase raised questions in my mind: "Homosexuals like you." Homosexuals like me? Am I a specific kind of homosexual? Maybe there was a section in the frequently touted "gay agenda" that I missed that described the different kinds of homosexuals.

In fact, I always thought I was a damn good homosexual!

I am in a committed 16-year loving relationship with my civilly unionized husband. We were fortunate enough to be one of the first 30 couples in Illinois to be united in a civil union in Millennium Park two years ago. We are both advocates for marriage equality, we marched in Springfield and we continue to fight for the right to be married in our home state. We have been on panels and done presentations on safe schools, bullying and marriage equality. Both my husband and I have proudly lived our lives "out" in the open, with dignity and respect.

I have been a teacher for more than 25 years. I have always taught in diverse schools—there are 34 different languages spoken in the homes of my students. I am an advocate for all of my students. I teach them to respect everyone's ideas regardless if they are different than their own. I teach them to be respectful to other and earn respect for themselves. I encourage my students celebrate the differences of others and treat other fairly. I've been teaching long enough to see that the first second-graders I taught 25 years ago have grow into caring and compassionate adults. I've been fortunate enough to be able to receive the" gifts" from past students who remember the project we did, or the lesson they learned, of the difference I made in their lives.

For the past 10 years, I've spent every Thursday night volunteering for Links-Pride Youth. Pride Youth is a youth group for high school LGBTQ teens and their friends. Some of our youth have no place to turn or have no one to talk to. We listen, we educate and we encourage our youth group members to make educated healthy choices in their lives. I once received a phone call from a panicked youth who had just got a call from a friend who was trying to end his life by taking pills and needed the reassurance that he did the right thing to save his friends life. I have watched our youth graduate from high school and college, and get their first jobs. Pride Youth has received letters from parents thanking us for giving their children a safe place to be themselves. One of our youth just announced his engagement and another has been hired to teach junior high. I am so proud.

The writer of the hate note intended the note to hurt me, to take away my power, my self-esteem—but it did just the opposite. It empowered me to continue to fight against the bigotry and hatred LGBTQ people experience every day. The impact of this hate note has been felt by many: the teachers I teach with, the administration of my district, the police department, and my friends and family.

The outpouring of love and support was incredible. All of these people impacted were disgusted by the cowardice of the author. I can guarantee the next time they hear an anti-gay remark or gay slur, or see someone's civil rights being denied, they will speak out and they will take action. The note will affect more students than the author ever imagined, affect them in a positive way, in an accepting way, in a gentle way … in a loving way.

There are millions of "homosexuals like me" who fight for LGBTQ rights every day. Who fight for the rights of the youth in hopes that this kind of hatred and bigotry will end. Who fight for the rights of those who can't fight out of fear of violence. Who fight for the rights of everyone.

I vow to make this single note, scribbled on a piece of salmon-colored paper, impact as many people as it can. It will make a difference, because we are damn good homosexuals!

The note is still under investigation by the police department, and is being investigated as a felony hate crime.


This article shared 3816 times since Wed Nov 6, 2013
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