a letter that changed gay history

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    Apr 11, 2009 9:17 AM GMT
    When Vermont passed Civil Unions in 2000, it created a backlash that brought out both the worse, and then later, the best in people. The hate mongers, the homophobes, the religious extremists and also those scared of something they did not understand, lashed out publicly not only at gay & lesbian people, but also anyone who dared to speak out for us. Supporters were to often scared into silence. But the backlash brought about a counter backlash.
    This time, in 2009, gay people and their straight allies, went on the offensive. We were determined not to allow the homophobes to dominate the discussion. In 2009, it was no longer acceptable to the vast majority of the public, to be seen as anti-gay.
    The letter to the editor below was written in 2000, by Sharon Underwood, a Vermont mother. It was due to letters and people like Ms. Underwood, that helped change the perception in the public of who we are, and helped us make history here last Tuesday.

    Sunday, April 30, 2000
    By SHARON UNDERWOOD
    For the Valley News (White River Junction, VT)


    Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I've taken enough from you good people.
    I'm tired of your foolish rhetoric about the "homosexual agenda" and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.
    My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.
    He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called "fag" incessantly, starting when he was 6.
    In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn't bear to continue living any longer, that he didn't want to be gay and that he couldn't face a life without dignity.
    You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don't know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn't put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it's about time you started doing that.
    At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won't get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don't know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.
    If you want to tout your own morality, you'd best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I'm puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that's not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?
    A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I'll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for "true Vermonters."
    You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn't give their lives so that the "homosexual agenda" could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.
    He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn't the measure of the man.
    You religious folk just can't bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.
    How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.
    You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.
    The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about "those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing" asks: "What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?"
    Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?
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    Apr 11, 2009 9:54 AM GMT
    That was simply beautiful.
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    Apr 11, 2009 1:36 PM GMT
    Good letter.
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    Apr 11, 2009 5:19 PM GMT
    Nothing is stronger than the love a mother has for her children.
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    Apr 11, 2009 5:26 PM GMT
    She summarized a loving parent's response to the gay thing pretty well I think. And to think there are countless other stories like this.

    How stupid that the moralistic hypocrites act like gays are a danger to their families when in fact it is those moralists hypocrites that are driving their own children to the grave or a life of mental dysfunction ..
    Study: Tolerance Can Lower Gay Kids' Suicide RiskThey found that kids who, by Ryan's measure, experienced high levels of rejection were nearly 8.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide. They were nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and almost 3.5 times more likely to use illegal drugs or engage in unprotected sex. That was compared with adolescents whose families may have felt uncomfortable with a gay kid, but were neutral or only mildly rejecting.
  • upsguy68

    Posts: 270

    Apr 11, 2009 8:15 PM GMT
    That was an amazing letter. That is truly unconditional love.

    She expressed herself with such COMMON SENSE! Why can't
    our legislators, lobbyists, and the religious right agree that it really
    is this SIMPLE!!
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    Apr 11, 2009 10:06 PM GMT
    there are no words to describe how beautiful and well written that letter is. She is amazing woman and an amazing mother.
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    Apr 11, 2009 10:06 PM GMT


    We'd like all christ haters to take note,

    "You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin. "


    Damn! She writes like my mother! -Doug
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    Apr 11, 2009 10:50 PM GMT
    This woman should get an award, or organize a letter writing campaign. Her words are more than beautiful and her use of emotion interwoven in the logic, the letter should be a staple in any rights campaign.
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    Apr 12, 2009 12:34 AM GMT
    What an incredible courage that mother has.....something that we all can find within ourselves.
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    Apr 12, 2009 12:43 AM GMT
    wow this letter was simply amazing
    i don't think i've read something more perfectly written in a long time
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    Apr 12, 2009 12:54 AM GMT
    I cried, I'm not ashamed to say it. I cried.
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    Apr 12, 2009 2:29 AM GMT
    Fantastic letter.