How can one lead with their mind firmly closed?
I have asked myself this question many, many times since hearing your comments regarding the proclamation that Borderland Pride requested International Falls council pass leading up to Pride Week+ 2019.
I am a member of the community you so willingly and wrongfully dismiss based on “lifestyle matters.” It is 2019; the queer community has been around for centuries, arguably since the beginning of life itself, and we are not going anywhere.
To refer to our genuine concerns and issues as being based on “choice” is not only archaic but incredibly uninformed. If you think any one of us would choose a life filled with discrimination, hatred and yes, even death via suicide or murder, I urge you to pull your head out of the sand.
Too many of us have died for reasons much less than the ones you have given for not supporting Pride. I want you to think about that, carefully.
You are an elected official, and your words do matter. The queer members of your community are listening and now recognise you as someone unsafe, who does not support their very existence on this planet.
In short, your comments, though polite and carefully constructed, are blatantly homophobic.
The idea that council does not need to be involved with a proclamation that celebrates a massive, diverse and widespread community of people who contribute positively to every society worldwide would, quite frankly, almost be laughable if it was not such an unfortunately blind position.
I must commend Coun. Harley Droba for speaking up and challenging your underhanded and contemptible decisions. I won't sugarcoat it: you are in the wrong, Mayor.
As a representative of the people of International Falls, you do have a responsibility to speak on these matters, and to support everyone in your constituency equally.
Your previous silence went unnoticed, but your outright dismissal of such a critical issue speaks volumes.
I invite you to speak with me about why you feel the way you do about the queer community.
I would love to clarify much of the misinformation with which you are currently operating.
I think one of the most significant issues that faces LGBTQ2 people as a whole, within the current confines of society, is the unwillingness of the other side to get to know us.
People fear that which they do not know. So come, talk to us, see that we're just like you—living, breathing, hardworking human beings who only want the same fundamental rights afforded our heterosexual, cisgender counterparts.
It goes without saying that divisiveness is a rather large problem in the United States right now. Wouldn't you rather be part of the solution, not the problem?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Caitlin L. Hartlen,
'here and queer'