In defense of LGBTQ+

Inter Lake readers respond to letter critical of local support group

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letters were received in response to the Aug. 12 op-ed by Kalispell resident Tim Adams. An editorial explaining the Inter Lake’s policy on letters to the editor is located on Page C8.)

As leaders of diverse faith communities throughout the Flathead Valley, we stand in support of the important work of Love Lives Here by supporting local LGBTQ+ students and families. We reject the condemnation voiced in Tim Adams’ guest opinion in the Daily Inter Lake on Sunday, Aug. 12.

We are concerned about the use of our sacred texts to characterize children and adults in our community as evil, damned or immoral. We have all heard devastating stories about caring individuals who were shamed and driven from their communities because of dehumanizing rhetoric directed at them for their gender, gender identity, ethnic background, religion, mental health issues, or physical abilities.

We know that words like the ones used in this letter are not harmless. Too often, harsh rhetoric gives way to harassment and violence. We cannot stand by while people insist on attacking others and use holy texts to do it.

As people of faith, we are called to bring love and light into the world, not divide communities. We call on people of any faith or personal conviction to bring understanding and compassion into the Flathead Valley.

Talk to your neighbors. Act with kindness. We are all created with the power of love, and when we remember this simple truth, our communities are strengthened, and we can accomplish great things together. Signed:

—Rev. Morie Adams-Griffin, Whitefish United Methodist Church

—Pastor Peter Erickson, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, ELCA, Columbia Falls

—Rev. Jeryl Hollinger

—Rev. Jim Petersen, United Church of Christ

—Rev. David Rommereim

—Rabbi Francine Roston

—Rabbi Allen Secher

—Rev. Dawn Skerritt, Columbia Falls United Methodist Church

Not all Christians think that way

Regarding the piece by guest writer Tim Adams (Aug. 12), I feel it vitally important to point out that in using a strong, religious underpinning for his opinion, including several passages from the biblical text, it’d be easy to get the impression that Christian opinion on the subjects of gender and sexuality are monolithic, and that every Christian shares his opinion. As a devout Christian with a doctorate in theology, I want to state in the most unequivocal terms that this is simply not the case. LGBTQ+ people, who have for centuries had the biblical text employed against them like a blunt instrument, deserve to know that there are Christians who take a divergent view.

We now know that on the “sixth day” (to use the biblical phrase), God created gay people. Every doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, and anthropologist attests to this, and that which God created was created “good.” Now that we know that — and we do know that — we now know that God’s creation is even more complex, dynamic, beautiful, and mysterious than we’d known previously. This discovery — like every other aspect of creation we have discovered — should be embraced with joy and praise, not grudgingly seen as, at best, a complication to be managed or, at worst, a pathology to be wiped out.

With LGBTQ+ people facing discrimination and violence the world over, I believe that this moment in history demands that the Christian church, in all of its beautiful diversity, must embrace anew God the Creator … and that means embracing God’s creation made manifest in the lives of LGBTQ+ people. —Jon Hatch, Bigfork

Once married, but always a lesbian

Re: The Aug. 12 letter about a local LGBTQ+ support group:

I lived in Kalispell for about 10 years when I was newly married and had young children. My husband knew from day one that I was a lesbian, but a psychiatrist told me in 1948 that if I would get married and have children, I would be cured. His response, “Let’s do it,” and I am very glad he did because those four children are now dear to my heart.

However, marriage and children did not change me, so I got a divorce and moved on with my life as a lesbian. I am wondering if I would be safe in Kalispell today. Just wondering. —Dorothy Starshine, Great Falls

Offended by publication of letter

I met my fiance living in Whitefish over two years ago. In October we are getting married here. Whitefish is our home away from home. We’ve never known the Inter Lake community to be anything but loving and welcoming to ALL. So during a recent visit to finalize our wedding plans, I was both shocked and appalled the Daily Inter Lake published the homophobic, insultingly ignorant, and hate-filled ravings of guest writer Tim Adams entitled “Promoting LGBTQ lifestyle is mistake.”

My fiance and I are both men.

There are many things Mr. Adams has wrong about LGBTQ people. We are not “recruiting” your children to “increase [our] ranks,” nor are we “isolat[ing] and groom[ing]” them for any lifestyle. We aren’t “demon possessed” and for the most part we grow into well-adjusted adults. The only people who cause harm to LGBTQ youth are people like Mr. Adams who have everything to say about people they know nothing about.

Ironically, Mr. Adams doesn’t suggest “[LGBTQ] children be ostracized or verbally abused” for who they are, yet that’s exactly what he preaches. That IS cruel, Mr. Adams. Your presumptions that homosexuality is some supernatural disease that can be cured, that it’s the parents’ fault, or a defense against hetero-rejection are unequivocally FALSE. We’ve heard these tired opinions for decades with NO evidence. LGBTQ children DO need to be “educated, counseled, and loved as normal human beings” — FULL. STOP.

I encourage Mr. Adams to actually meet some LGBTQ people and speak to them before “casting the first stone.” We, too, are human beings deserving of love — not monsters out to snatch your children. There is NO gay agenda (except maybe finding a good prosecco to make Sunday brunch mimosas). I encourage you to follow the Greatest Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:38. —Andrew Scheppmann, West Hollywood, California

Montana should not promote hatred

I was recently made aware of a guest opinion published in your paper. I have family that still live in Montana and friends I would love to take there one day to show them what a beautiful state it is. It’s a great state filled with many great people. However, articles like “Promoting the LGBTQ lifestyle is a mistake” just increase a hesitancy to visit. This isn’t even from friends of mine that are LGBTQ; it’s from any of them. Those that think Montana is trapped in the past, or that they wouldn’t get along or be welcomed.

I want people to see the Montana I know. The Montana full of great people and kindness. I don’t wish for the state that my family is from to promote or support hatred. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but rather than just letting it out in the manner it was, why not open it up for discussion? You can chose to not support this group if you so wish, but please don’t attack or hurt them. Live and let live. I hope one day my family and the next generation can live in peace in a state that is so serenely beautiful. —Vivian Lesiak, Colorado Springs, Colorado

In support of the LGBTQ+ Alliance

I am writing in support of the LGBTQ+ Alliance and the wonderful work they do to make sure everyone is able to live and express themselves to their fullest potential. This work is so vital. Every person is precious and worthy of dignity and respect. Keep up the good work! —Pat Christian, Helena

‘Bigotry on steroids’

Regarding the dangerously prejudicial rhetoric promoted in an Aug. 12 letter to the editor in the Daily Inter Lake:

When adults reading the Daily Inter Lake see an article describing a supportive resource and community for LGBTQ+ youth and their families and write a homophobic letter to the editor, it’s not Christianity. It’s bigotry on steroids.

Adults must be told about the temptations that afflict the readers of the paper on a daily basis. There is counseling for those who would reject homophobia and its adverse effects on the human personality, e.g. self-hate, tormented conscience, and relational conflicts with homosexuals, etc.

To say nothing of poor grammar. Think it can’t happen? Don’t bet your spell check on it.

The misjudgment of the Daily Inter Lake editors deemed this hate speech appropriate for its readership and allowed it to be published. This is just another instance of journalistic authority legitimizing individual bigotry.

I am not suggesting that homophobes be ostracized or verbally abused for their difficulty; that is cruel. They need to be educated, counseled, and loved as normal human beings. They need to understand that homophobic tendencies can and should be resisted through empathy and the determination to live an accepting life.

These homophobes need a moral code that protects their untapped open-mindedness, a code that is encouraged and sustained by the LGBTQ+ members of their society.

The FBI says that 21 percent of all 2016 hate crimes were based on sexual orientation bias. Consider queer people as your equals, and conversion therapy becomes an instant loser in any conversation about us.

I’ve come to believe that hateful rhetoric encourages hateful actions. Only an irresponsible publication would put the safety and psychological well-being of the Flathead Valley’s LGBTQ+ community at risk to amplify this twisted agenda. —Grace MacArthur, Whitefish

Homosexuality is not a choice

As I read through the recent anti-LGBTQ letter that the DIL has published, I find myself shaking my head in disbelief.

It is 2018, and despite having the science to prove otherwise, there are still people choosing to believe homosexuality is not only a choice, but something to be ashamed of.

My friends, this simply isn’t true. The science to support the fact that homosexuality is not a choice can be found all the way in our DNA. A gene on the X chromosome, called Xq28 and a gene on chromosome 8 seem to be more commonly found in men who are gay. There are also epigenetic changes in the DNA that can turn the expression of genes on and off, and scientists believe this form of gene regulation can play a role in homosexuality. Most often times, this form of gene regulation and expression is actually brought about by conditions in the womb during prenatal development.

I am appalled that Mr. Tim Adams is suggesting Christian therapy, and potentially alluding to conversion therapy. Conversion therapy has been proven time and time again that it is ineffective and extremely harmful.

As someone who attended Catholic elementary school and high school, and as someone who was raised in the church, Mr. Adams’ beliefs (and many others like him) are the reason I, and many others like myself, have left the church in droves. The hypocrisy and judgment that run amok in a religious institution are quite frankly horrifying. There is simply no place for hate and ignorance as such in today’s world.

Same sex attraction has absolutely nothing to do with fear of rejection from the opposite sex. To imply so is ignorant.

Remember folks — homosexuality exists in a remarkable amount of species. Homophobia exists in only one. —Mikayla Galletta, Kalispell

No room for hate

We are all unique individuals. We come in different sizes, shapes, colors, genders and sexual orientations. We worship different religions in different ways or choose not to worship at all. An attack on any individual’s right to be who they are is an attack on us all especially when that attack is framed as a requirement of a religion. An attack on youth is doubly heinous.

I applaud the work of the LGBTQ+ Alliance and Love Lives Here. There’s no room for hate here. —Amy Weeks, Columbia Falls

Holding up mirror to religious hatred

I shake my head wondering why you saw fit to print Tim Adams’ hateful Aug. 12 letter, which appeared under the headline “Promoting LGBTQ lifestyle is mistake.” Will you print mine under the headline “Promoting religious hatred is mistake”?

Let me hold up a mirror:

When children dealing with serious questions are taught that these must be considered through the lens of God vs. Satan and discussed with adults who believe that homosexuality causes self-hatred, addiction, disease, and abuse it begs the question: Are these children being isolated and groomed for their parents’ ignorant, hateful “lifestyle”? Cowardice has allowed this perversion to be thought of and accepted as normal. —Chris Dodge, Kalispell

Letter critical of LGBTQ+ was form of verbal abuse

In response to Tim Adams letter in the Aug. 12 Daily Inter Lake:

Dear Mr Adams, I must confess: in my professional history of reading and responding to morally backwards, unlettered, and primeval religious ethos, yours was particularly interesting.

This is not in the least because of your evasion of facts (the LGBTQ group was composed of youth and their parents, not adults spreading homosexual propaganda, for example), nor because of the hypocrisy of using a rudimentary Bible study to decry what you think the issue is (it would be easier to list what Leviticus doesn’t condemn). Rather, it’s because you seem completely bereft of a sense of irony. I nearly admire that: It’s almost enough to convince a reader that you truly love your god and are not, in fact, a lamentable country closet-case. Almost.

In response to the insane notion that gay children might wish the friendship and support of others, you write that they “should not be ostracized or verbally abused...” Your letter, sir, is an exercise in verbal abuse, although a rhetorically flaccid one. What’s more, to gleefully compile a list of archaic doctrines and forecast the eternal torment to come demonstrates a hysteria rather close to sexual ecstasy yourself. It’s a safe bet that no one present at the meeting you mention thinks nearly as much about gay sex as you seem to.

For the sake of your immortal soul, brother, I counsel you to let it go. Beware, or you’ll become a fisher of men (if not in quite the fashion Jesus intended). Whether or not you accidentally stray from biblical locker-room talk into innocent experimentation, remember to follow the advice of Jesus to the blind men in Matthew 9:30. Unlike you, the LGBTQ community knows how to keep its mouth shut when prudent and open when it’s consensual, safe, and natural. —Joshua Kelly, Kalispell, author of “Oh, Your god!: The Evil Idea That Is Religion”

LGBTQ+ Alliance has more supporters than detractors

Regarding last Sunday’s opinion piece on the Flathead Valley’s LGBTQ group:

Mr. Adams’ characterization of this group is patently false. This group is based on love and understanding. It’s a safe place where parents and children can ask questions, have discussions about issues that they are dealing with, and find solutions. In addition, they have conversations about attacks such as this one, from people who are ignorant, fearful, or hateful of lifestyles that are different from their own.

Unlike some people, I believe Mr. Adams and those who think like him, have a right to their opinion and a right to have it printed in a very biased paper such as this one. That being said, he is not immune to the backlash that will come over the next few days and weeks. Counter-point pieces will come and the editor of this newspaper better print every single letter he receives.

As a parent of two children that belong to LGBTQ group referred to in Tim Adams’ letter to the editor, I would like to tell him I am extremely proud of the people my children have become. My husband and I have raised them to be responsible, respectful, caring young adults. Everyone who meets them would agree. They would NEVER judge anyone for their life choices, or presume to tell them the “RIGHT” person to love. They stand up for what they believe in, and they stand up for people they believe in, regardless of their sexual preference.

Mr. Adams did not write this piece to offer “help” or “salvation,” but to cause anger and hurt. I would like to thank Mr Adams for identifying himself as a bigot. I’m sure his parents are proud.

To all of the Flathead Valley LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families please know that you have more supporters than you do detractors, they are just louder. Hold your head high, be proud that you are being true to yourself, live your life on your terms, and most of all BE HAPPY. —Kim Mahoney, Kalispell

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