Last week, the Advocate ranked Minneapolis as the gayest city in America. That’s probably true. But, through the eyes of a gay teen in Minnesota, there was a lot of anti-gay rhetoric — and it hurt.
This week, I got an email from Mike, a reader from Minnesota. He writes every now and then to ask about various LGBT issues. In his latest email, he also explained that he was from Minnesota and had hoped for marriage equality in his home state. But, that won’t be happening. He also gave us some insight in to what it’s like for a young gay kid to be bombarded by anti-gay campaign from the Catholic Church and other homophobes. Mike grew up in a town between the East St. Paul’s suburbs and the rural areas. I know the haters never think about the messages they’re sending to young gay kids. But, they helped push Mike out of Minnesota. I asked if I could share his email and he agreed:
I’m in college now, at the University of Wisconsin Madison, but I do understand the situation in Minnesota. Last fall, the Catholic Church sent DVDs to all Catholics in Minnesota, an anti-gay DVD. This was just a part of many anti-gay rhetoric that has stepped up in Minnesota.
A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, began to dislike the former governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty. Many social conservatives believed that a new Democratic governor and a Democratically-controlled legislature would legalize gay marriage in Minnesota. So for the past few years, there has been a swarm of pro-Republican, anti-gay billboards popping up at the sides of major highways. So I had to leave that place. I couldn’t go to the mall, or go to my job, or school without seeing a billboard that made me so sad.
So know with a divided Minnesota government, both sides know that the legislature will not provide the state-wide marriage amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman that the social conservatives want, as well as the legislature will not provide a marriage equality bill that liberals want. So, the anti-gay rhetoric has increased its efforts, trying to push for a state wide referendum.
Wisconsin is better, but I’ve kinda been sheltered by the University and its gay campus center. I figure if I left the city, I would see the same anti-billboards sponsored by the the people who voted for a state wide referendum that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
That a young kid felt like he had to leave his home state makes me sad — and angry. The anti-gay messages coming from homophobes and politicians do matter to our youth. It’s bullying.
Earlier this week, the Daily Beast released a report naming the most tolerant states. Wisconsin was at the top of the list. I hope that’s true for Mike and all young gay kids. the Daily Beast ranked Minnesota as the seventh most tolerant state. Mike didn’t think it was so tolerant. I guess the Catholic Church and the homophobes consider that a victory.