Chris O'Leary

April 1998

Before you go on to read this column, if you're offended by homophobic viewpoints, you may want to pass on it this month. There is one homophobe in particular who can really get on anyone's nerves. He touched the wrong nerve in me, and I struck back swiftly and severely... in the form of a letter.

No, I'm not obsessed with letters. However, they have played an important part in my life once again. After the news of the planned Gay-Straight Alliance at my school leaked out to the public, an article appeared in the newspaper about it. It was rather biased, and the article's writer seemed to express her disgust with it in a piece of work that is supposed to show both sides. It is certainly not fair to the Gay-Straight Alliance when someone does something like that! But, I figured I'd wait a week, and see the letters to the editor pour in, with stronger words from the homophobic right wing Catholics that seem to dominate my town. So, on Tuesday, March 3rd, I opened the paper, and what do I find? Well, just what I expected. A letter to the editor...

To The Editor:

Is homosexuality the moral equivalent of heterosexuality? John Golden, the principal of Toll Gate High School, apparently thinks so. At least that is the message conveyed by Mr. Golden's endorsement of a homosexual-heterosexual alliance group proposed for the school. (Beacon 2/24)

Mr. Golden thinks that such an alliance "would only promote tolerance of homosexuality and that it was something for gay and straight students alike."

Now that we know what Mr. Golden thinks, let me tell you what I think. I think Mr. Golden is an idiot.

I do not wish to be unkind to Mr. Golden, but I cannot think of any better word to describe this folly of his position on this issue.

In the age of AIDS it is intellectually idiotic and morally indefensible to promote tolerance (translated as acceptance and validation) of homosexuality when those who practice the behavior are at such a horribly high risk of contracting the disease.

I agree with columnist Linda Bowles who writes that "it is absolutely wrong to abuse or mistreat homosexuals. However, no society in its right mind would do anything to encourage the formation of these dangerous and deadly aberrations or allow anyone else to suggest to children that these behaviors are normal, natural, moral or healthy."

Linda Bowles understands the issue. John Golden doesn't. The students at Toll Gate High School, and their parents, deserve a principal who does.

A.H. Liddle

The first thing that caught my eye was who wrote this letter... the evil A.H. Liddle. This is the same guy who wrote a letter to the statewide newspaper last week, bashing my 7th and 8th grade gifted program teacher for running a Youth Hunger Brigade program at the junior high school. Why did he disapprove of it? Well, he said that the only people to blame for hunger were the people who didn't have the motivation to earn the money to buy their own food. This guy didn't even phase me. But, since he presented one side of the issue... a very sickening, homophobic side of the issue, I figured that I would provide the opposing viewpoint. In a much longer letter...

To The Editor:

Toll Gate High School is planning to form a Gay-Straight Alliance. Why? Well, without people like A.H. Liddle ("Don't Tolerate Aberrations", 3/3), there would be no need for one. This group has been formed to promote tolerance in the commonly homophobic high school environment. Put yourself in a gay teenager's situation. Your own friends want to kill you simply because of your sexual orientation. There is no place for you to turn. Many teenagers resort to suicide, simply because of this. Toll Gate wants to keep this from happening, by presenting an environment that is accepting to these students.

Mr. Liddle stated that, "in the age of AIDS it is intellectually idiotic and morally indefensible to promote tolerance of homosexuality." Apparently, he is in a time warp. AIDS is no longer the "gay disease" that many feared it was in the early 1980's. AIDS can be contracted by straight men and women. There may be a higher risk, but gays are just as responsible as heterosexuals in protecting themselves during sexual intercourse. Mr. Liddle is ill-informed and closed-minded to think that such a myth, which was proven wrong over a decade ago, could possibly be true. If a heterosexual was the first to contract the AIDS virus, I am certain that he would not have made that remark. This is outright homophobia, without which there would be no need for a Gay- Straight Alliance.

I am also enraged by the narrow-minded remarks that referred to homosexuality as abnormal, unnatural, and unhealthy. Last November, U.S. Catholic Bishops announced their stance on homosexuality, and although they believed it was immoral, they said that it was not a choice, and nobody should choose between gay friends, children, or parents, and faith. In short, they said that we should still support and respect them as human beings. Mr. Liddle does not seem to understand that. And if he needs scientific evidence, just last week, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin found that homosexual and bisexual women are biologically different in terms of brain development. So, does Mr. Liddle think that we should discriminate on the basis on homosexuality, even though it could very well be decided at birth? Apparently so. Several decades ago, during the civil rights movement, many black student organizations formed. The color of one's skin is not freely chosen, and people learned to accept that through these organizations. Homosexuals want an organization similar to this; to promote tolerance and acceptance. It is not possible to do this without a Gay-Straight Alliance, which unifies the heterosexual and homosexual communities into one accepting, supportive group.

I also do not understand why Mr. Liddle is in such an uproar about this particular Gay-Straight Alliance when there are more than a half-dozen others in this state alone. There are over a HUNDRED in Massachusetts high schools, and they have made exceptional progress in toleration of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in high schools. Why should Toll Gate be any different? Toll Gate is not necessarily following in another school's footsteps, but there was a request, and a need for this organization, and some teachers and students took action. Toll Gate should be proud to have an organization that exposes diversity as acceptable and tolerable. This group doesn't want people to "turn gay," and this group doesn't require that people stop hating homosexuals. They are only seeking the acceptance of gays and lesbians, and the respect that they deserve as human beings. The Gay-Straight Alliance alone will not allow for complete acceptance of gay students, but it certainly is a good place to start.

Finally, I, as a student at Toll Gate High School, was deeply insulted when my own principal was called an idiot by Mr. Liddle for supporting the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance. He is merely doing his part to make the gay students at Toll Gate High School more comfortable; providing a place for them to turn to. All students have a right to feel comfortable at their school, and Mr. Golden is reaching out a hand to these students, who are suffering from the pressures of schoolwork, as well as struggling with their own sexuality at a turning point in their lives. Mr. Golden is not an idiot. He is enlightened and informed. Mr. Liddle has a lot to learn.

Chris O'Leary
Student, Toll Gate High School

Is there a lesson to be learned here? No, not really. I just dealt with a homophobe here. A right-wing homophobe at that. That takes a lot of courage. I just thought I'd brag this time around, since I was able to fight this intellectual idiot with bigger words, instead of sinking so low as to call a respected member of the community an idiot for doing what he is required to do under the equal access law. Then again, that Liddle guy is probably against THAT, too. He's against everything. I'm against him.

--Chris O'Leary




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