Gay Rights in America and in Ludington by Brad Reed , written for the Ludington Daily News and shared on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I just realized that you need to login to FB to see the post. For those who do not have an account I'll post the letter here -
Gay Rights in America and in Ludington by Brad Reed .by Brad Reed on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 2:58pm.
On Sunday afternoon, I went to the Ludington Area Center for the Arts (LACA) and watched a brilliant readers’ theater performance of “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.” Hats off to director Chris Plummer and all of the performers for a job well done and for having the courage to help raise awareness of hate crimes and gay rights. After the performance, the cast remained on stage for an open discussion with the audience about how the brutal murder of Matt Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming back in 1998 has helped raise awareness of the issue of hate crimes towards the gay population in towns all across America.
Many local citizens joined the discussion and it was brought up that even in our beautiful little town of Ludington, our fellow residents who are gay sometimes feel afraid and unsafe. This was an eye opener for me and helped me realize that it is time to speak out about gay rights.
Being a straight man with a family and a business in Ludington, I never took the time to think about what it would be like to be a gay resident or visitor to the Ludington area. I assumed it would be generally awesome, like my daily experiences in the town I have lived in all my life. I have several friends and acquaintances who live here who are gay and they usually seem happy and carefree, so it was a shock when I had my “aha” moment on Sunday after the performance at the LACA.
My “aha” moment was that even as a straight man in Ludington, I live in fear of being labeled as a gay rights supporter. I realized I have fear of it affecting my business, but also I fear being harassed or shunned by life long friends and the general population of the Ludington area. Sitting there I realized how sad it was that I was hesitant to vocalize my support. Realizing that shook me to the core. I knew at that moment I had to take action and write this letter.
I strongly believe that gay people in Ludington need to be treated with the same level of respect that straight people enjoy and that gay people should be able to walk our sidewalks, eat in our restaurants, and shop in our stores without the fear of being harassed, stared at, or disrespected in any way. I also believe straight people need to be able to feel safe showing their support of gay rights.
Our amazing country of the United States of America has had several civil rights movements. First, we got women the rights they deserved, then we fought to get the African Americans the rights they deserved, and now we need to get the gay AMERICANS the rights they deserve. The gay rights movement has gained a lot of momentum in America the last few years, and I hope it does in Ludington as well. I love the Ludington area, I believe in the Ludington area, and I spend my life promoting the Ludington area. I think it would be great if we could all band together and promote Ludington as a safe zone for ALL of its residents and visitors. I hope that even if you don’t condone a gay lifestyle or understand a gay lifestyle, you can still treat gay people with the respect and dignity they deserve under the Constitution of the United States of America.