Gunther Schryer

July 1998

Freaks? ...or dangerous ones anyway!

Recently, I was having a conversation with my friend Rich about the gay community. Since we are both from the Bible Belt of West Virginia, me from Huntington and Rich from Charleston, both of us have had the experience of being viewed as "freaks" by the locals. As usual, Rich had something profound to say in regard to gay people being viewed as freaks. It deals with being "out to show the world that we're not freaks (or dangerous ones anyway)." If you have visited my personal webpage, you might have noticed the section where I describe my activities within the gay community. Included, you will find a short tidbit that says: "I have not, nor will I ever, molest your child."

When Rich saw that on my webpage, he sent me a message saying that he found that section sort of funny. The sad part is that most of the Het world probably does view gay folk as being child molesters. This is just what the religious Right wants to happen. Pure bliss for Pat Robertson and his Klan (pun intended). What has the gay community done to counter this vision? In my opinion, very little. Sure we can be militant but does that change minds and attitudes? Nope.

The only way to change someone's mind is for plain old people, like you and me, to be out and active within the community. I'm not talking about becoming active in the gay community, I'm talking about taking some action from within the straight community. Attend events that are generally straight in nature and bring your partner with you. When people are talking about their opposite gender dates and spouses, we need to pipe in too. Stomp the shame out of being gay.

While I was a student at Marshall University, I had many Het friends who would be shocked at some of the things I would discuss at the lunch table. However, what they failed to recognize it that if I were talking about the exact same thing, but involving a woman, it would have raised not an eyebrow. By bringing up gay issues in a matter-of-fact sense, this allow the straight culture to become aware of gay people and the average, ordinary lives that we live. Casual conversation will enable the straight world to see that gay people do talk about the same issues that straight people talk about but the reason our talk is looked down upon is because society disapproves of our actions.

When I can sit with my straight friends and talk about the same things they talk about without causing a reaction, I will have achieved equality. Now, don't get me wrong, there are many in the gay community who are fully out and are making a difference for the rest of us. They are to be admired. Television shows like "Ellen" are exactly what our community needs, a matter-of-fact discussion of gay life. When we are out in all facets of life, our quality of life will increase dramatically. There is "power in numbers." If you are wondering, yes I am a freak and darn proud of it. However, I am not a freak because I am gay or live an immoral lifestyle. Too many people in this world hide their true selves from others. With me, you get what you see and if you don't like it, that's just fine, leave. And I will never molest your child....

Peace and Pride,

Gunther Schryer

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