Nordham:Bad Joke At Parade | Guest Commentary
by Gretchen Nordham, M.A
Jul 08, 2007 | 419 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We love Telluride, and so often fantasize about moving here for good. Over the past 10 years or so, my family and I have been coming to Telluride as often as possible. We live in Boulder and feel so at home here. There seems to be a similar consciousness in both places.

We were pleased to be a small part of saving the Valley Floor and want to congratulate and thank you all for your efforts in this environmental success. We love the outdoors, the library, the skiing, hiking, Ah Haa, tubing the river and of course the beautiful fireworks. KOTO radio is much like our own KGNU and we love the community approach on the air. This town really seems to pull together and support what is good. The natural beauty here combined with the caring community seem to us, paradise.

So, imagine my dismay when in the Fourth of July parade there was a hate group entered. At first many people thought the “heterosexuals” were just joking, but upon closer inspection of their signs and virulent slogans, they were clearly nothing more than an anti-gay hate group. Further, I was shocked to see that your judges awarded them a place of recognition as one of the winners in whatever category they were entered. Has it occurred to any of these judges that this group was akin to allowing KKK or swastikas in the parade? Clearly gays in this country have been severely discriminated against, suffer cruelty, ostracism, and indeed violence.

Gay teenagers are teased and beaten up in schools. In our family a beautiful young man committed suicide because he was unable to make peace with his sexuality and rather than suffer from further battering, he chose the ultimate way out. This was a sweet, handsome, brilliant, and kind young man. He was everything a family would want in a son or a brother. He was just gay, that’s all. Sadly his story is not unique.

Everyone should remember another young man, Matthew Sheppard, who was crucified in Wyoming several years ago and left dead and nailed to a fence post. Quite frankly, this kind of hate is condoned by individuals and groups like the “heterosexuals” in the parade. If they want to be straight, fine. Most people are. But for the small minority who are not, shouldn’t the wider society protect their dignity, safety and the space to be who they are? In what way does someone who is gay harm the wider population? I would submit that they in fact do not. But with public displays and rewards as demonstrated in the parade, it clearly is the wider culture that is harming the minority. Shame on this group. Shame on the judges. I expected better from people in Telluride.

A bright spot, however, came a bit later in the parade. The redemptive float was a kid’s entry, “The Angel of Kindness.” This youngster gave hope for the town, indeed for our wider world. I hope the simple sentiment of kindness will prevail in Telluride, find it’s way into the hearts of the “heterosexuals” and everyone else tempted to label and dehumanize another person or group. Truly, this kind of compassion will serve to make the world a better place.

Thank you, Angel! I hope you will continue to be an agent of enlightenment and an example to the less wise.

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