There's now a bench in Laramie

Today is National Coming Out Day.  And although the newspaper here in Fort Worth has published letters to the editors calling me out for how dangerous a person I am my support of the GLBT community and some papers are publishing ads that are making me into wingnut enemy number 1, my op-ed on Coming Out Day and the Anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death couldn’t find its way into the local press.

Today there is a bench in Laramie Wyoming, however.  An Associated Press report says:

There wasn’t much in the way of publicly marking the 10-year anniversary of Shepard’s death. A week ago, the university dedicated a bench that had been donated by a foundation set up by Shepard’s parents to help support gay youths.

Understated, reflective and place to sit and reflect on a horror that emphasizes the need for Coming Out, both as GLBT people, and more importantly as safe GLBT allies and making sure our workplaces, our churches and our schools are safe places with visibles signs that there are safe people to come out to around.

The AP story that ran in the Fort Worth Star Telegram this morning quotes a gay U of Wyoming employee named Jim Osborn and the Laramie mayor:

Some of the coverage attempted to blame Laramie for somehow creating the murderers. Osborn recalled seeing one TV report quoting a local man at a bar as saying gay people should expect to be attacked in Wyoming.

“The crime of two people was presented as a crime of the city,” Mayor Klaus Hanson said.

No, Mayor Hanson the crime of two people isn’t the crime of a city, but it does reflect a crime or at least a failing on the part of all of us, not just in Laramie, but around the country.   We create the attitudes that say it’s okay to beat and kill people who are different. Yes, each person is responsible for their own actions, but so is each society and our fundamental flaw as a society is that we don’t own up to our actions as society the way we call individuals to account for their actions.

“Every brother being in chains is my shame. Every longing for freedom which is suppressed, every human right which is violated is a personal defeat for me because we are united in human kind and share one another’s fate.”  –

– Egil Aarvik, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, on the occasion of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1983, Oslo, December 10, 1983.

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