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They told me I would go to He**

June 26, 2011
by Coach Cora

My male classmate cornered me, menacingly in the school hallway.  Eyes flashing with anger and fear, he said, “My Dad says all Gays are going to burn in hell, and so are you.”

This was 13 years ago.  I was 16 and living in small town Kansas, a VERY conservative and Catholic area.

So what had angered my classmate so deeply?

In the Spring of 1998, former residents of my town, a couple, wrote a Letter to the Editor in the Hays Daily News that bashed the Public Library’s decision to carry a children’s book called My Two Dads.

The couple insisted that children would read that book and “become gay” and experiment sexually with one other (like this doesn’t happen ALREADY).

They referred to homosexuality as a type of sexual Cult and called for the book to be removed from our library.  I was triggered by this letter to say the least, and I knew I needed to take action.

Here was my response, printed in the Hays Daily News in March of 1998.

As a Hays teen, I was astounded by the letter from the couple living in North Carolina.  I don’t know where they received their information on homosexuality, but it is time for them to take a quick step back into reality. 

 Homosexuality is not at all an obscene, perverse form of physical pleasure, it is the way many, many people form loving, committed relationships.  The gay population is not a gigantic cult of sex-crazed maniacs, but a different sort of family with many famous and not so famous members. 

Unless High Point, North Carolina, has a protective shield around it, the couple who wrote the letter has probably come into contact with many gay and lesbian people.

 The most recent scientific research indicates that homosexuality is not a choice, but the God-given orientation of 20% of the population.  It is a way of life and removing the book from the library would be depriving many children of a realistic educational experience.  There are many children that live in similar situations and they deserve the support that the book provides.

 As a member of this younger generation, I am hurt and angered that someone would want to hide any aspect of society from my eyes. Homosexuality is not contagious, fear is.  Keep the book in the library, and I challenge every Hays citizen to take a giant step, and begin to FINALLY face the truth.

 When I came home from school the day this was printed, there were about 15 messages on our answering machine.  I was petrified to listen, so frightened that the messages would be filled with hate and anger.

However, a majority of the messages were parents, crying, thanking me, telling me their child is gay, and they thought they were alone in this town, but now they know they are supported.

I had multiple conversations with these parents, and as a result, a Gay/Straight Alliance was formed at the local Public High School.  A few months later, Mathew Shepard was murdered for being gay, and the town of Hays, Kansas, held a candlelight vigil for him.

Back at my private Catholic school the next day, it was a somewhat different story.  I received the lovely comment I mentioned earlier about my demise into the flames and there were many whispers and strange looks most of the day.  I am very clear that my Cool Factor took a bit of a dive.

Yet, there were some magical moments as well.  A priest in the school called me to his office.  I walked in, terrified.  He said, “Good job.  I just want you to know that I am proud of you.”

And on this beautiful Sunday, 13 years later, on the day of the Gay Pride Parade, with tears in my eyes, I feel so much Unconditional Love and Acceptance and yes Pride welling up inside of me…

For the State Government of New York”s latest decision for Marriage Equality, for my sister, who married her partner three weeks ago, and most of all for the Gays, Lesbians, and Bi-sexuals who have been PIONEERS in a time and place where who they were born to be is not always accepted and even violently punished.

They are the true heroes in this story.  They are the definition of COURAGE.

And yes, I am proud and inspired by that 16 year old, who even with the fear of not fitting in or the threat of being ostracized, stood in her Truth, and spoke from her Core.

And then observed, witnessed, her little town beginning to heal from the fear and anger of change and differences, surrendering more and more to the Unconditional Love and Acceptance that is within us all.

She watched her town grow wings.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2011 1:33 pm

    THANK YOU again Cora for continuing to live TRUTH & your well-expressed post.
    I too have tears of PRIDE in my eyes today reading this, anticipating the momentary arrival of my daughter, daughter-in-law & grandson’s visit. What a WARM WELCOME our wonderful state of NY has given them! @–>—

  2. June 26, 2011 1:50 pm

    I appreciate you and your courageous voice! Thank you for not being silent.
    Love to you always, Nick

    “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
    ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. Benedicte permalink
    June 26, 2011 4:11 pm

    So many thanks for your eloquence and grace …
    Sexy, soulful, graceful… You are such the Angelique presence that the world needs :)

  4. June 26, 2011 9:13 pm

    Love the way you write :)

  5. June 26, 2011 9:31 pm

    Wow, 16 year old Cora was a pretty incredible young woman full of so much love, understanding, hope and courage. And so is the Cora I am so blessed to know. You are such a beauty, in every possible definition of the word. Thank you for being you, for speaking your Truth and for sharing your LOVE for all. (I’m so proud of my home-state NY!!) xoxo

  6. June 26, 2011 11:15 pm

    When I was in high school, I was assigned the task of writing about our first ever Gay-Straight Alliance meeting for our newspaper. My teacher asked me not to use my name in the article – but rather my initials in order to protect me. I told her “I’m pretty sure everyone knows who H.R. is…” and I used my name. After the story came out, I was pegged a lesbian for covering the meeting and a few of my classmates (that I knew from the time I was 5) continued harassing me to the point where my parents got involved. I didn’t ask them to and I really did deal with it on my own. A friend of mine bravely came out to the school as a lesbian (and her father was my math teacher). I took care of the harassment by writing an Op-Ed article for the next paper that labeled certain students as homo-phobic… which in 1999 was just as bad as it is now.

    My Mom was proud of how I handled it – although not pleased when I told a bunch of them they were only calling me a lesbian so they could see me kiss a girl. But as a teenager, that seemed like a good come-back.

    Now, nearly 12 years after I graduated, my nephew (who is 11) was called “gay” by a bully at school. My nephew turned around and said “is that the worst thing you can say to me? Wow, you’re NOT creative.” When I asked him WHY he said that he told me that being gay isn’t a bad thing and if being called gay was supposed to be an insult, the kid who called him gay CLEARLY wasn’t being creative enough. Apparently he remembered the stories of the harassment that I dealt with in high school and took it upon himself to reach the conclusion that if his straight aunt didn’t care that someone called her a lesbian – then perhaps it’s no biggie if someone calls him gay.

    It’s sad that homophobia still happens and I commend you and your younger self for being brave enough to do what you did. Small steps can help people in ways that we can never imagine.

  7. Derek Dude Hadley permalink
    June 27, 2011 4:04 pm

    I had no idea you wrote that! Amazing, Thank you :) <3

  8. June 28, 2011 6:52 am

    I love this article – thank you for being brave enough to speak up and give so many people a voice who cannot find their own.

  9. July 7, 2011 7:39 pm

    That was beautiful Cora. Thank you for sharing!!!

  10. July 7, 2011 11:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Cora. I think your words were beautiful then, if not revolutionary. Well said!

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