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Letter From the Editor

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Ever since I was a child, I've lived the heterosexual lifestyle. I don't remember making a decision to do so, but it's who I am, sorry. I admit it; I'm attracted to members of the opposite sex. If you have a problem with that, well, too bad. I refuse to live my life in a closet. All I want is for you to accept me for who I am and allow me the opportunity to pursue my career and serve my country and worship freely and marry the person of my choice. You don't even have to like me. I promise I will not force my lifestyle or my heterosexual agenda upon you.

In short: I'm here. I'm straight. Get used to it.

Yeah, I know. That's stupid. Straight people don't have to worry about being accepted for their biological makeup. The vast majority of humans are heterosexual. We don't have to worry about whether we'll get fired if our boss learns of our sexual orientation. We don't have to be concerned about being bullied or teased or beaten up because of who we're attracted to.

Yes, we're changing as a society, but there are still mountains to climb. Thankfully, the closet isn't nearly as full as it used to be. More and more LGBT folks are standing up for their right to openly be who they are. More straight people are shedding the old fears and prejudices. In 20 years, I suspect — I hope — this issue will fade into irrelevancy.

The closet hurts everyone. It's easier to hate and fear the concept of homosexuality if you don't actually know any gay people. It's not so easy if you know gay family members, co-workers, classmates, fellow soldiers, church members. That's when you begin to see gays as individuals, as fellow humans with similar hopes, ambitions, and feelings. It's harder to demonize someone you know and like.

On a whim, I recently looked up an old classmate on Facebook. We were pals in high school, in the same social circle. We even dated a couple of times. She was a country girl, drove a pickup truck, and was a lot of fun. Imagine my surprise when I found her on the Internet, smiling in her profile picture under a halo of white hair, her arm around a woman with whom she was "in a relationship." I don't know anything more about her, whether she's been openly gay for decades or for six months. All I know is I'm glad she's able to be who she wants to be.

That's not too much to ask for any of us, is it?

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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