Dear Ms. Medley:
I am a teacher. I am a fellow Hoosier born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana. And I am gay.
In 1986 a Lincoln High School classmate of mine perceived to be gay was murdered and my hometown reacted with indifference to the crime. They were apathetic. It seemed they thought “eh, it’s just a gay guy.” You cannot begin to understand the impact gossipmongers, “good Christians like you,” and sermons from local pulpits regarding my classmate’s murder had on my developing psyche and self-esteem. Like my classmate, I too was struggling with my sexual orientation. Inherently on some level I’d always known, even as a small child, that I was different from other boys. I did not understand my attraction only that it was part of me. My first memory is of a teenage grill cook in my grandfather’s restaurant who happened to have an Adam’s apple. I remember thinking I wanted an Adam’s apple when I got older; I was attracted to the masculinity of it.
You announced to your community — my community — that gay people have no purpose. As an educator I find it reprehensible that you, a special needs teacher, would say such a thing. No person, teen or otherwise, should ever be told they have no purpose. I would never utter words such as yours to my students in class or in press. There was a time in this country when the very children you care for daily were considered to have no purpose. They would’ve been locked in an asylum away from public view unable to receive an education or taught to live independently.
I will not debate you on the Bible. You and I have fundamentally different beliefs regarding the Word. I will however, as a gay man, tell you my purpose:
- My purpose is to love my mother, father, and brother;
- My purpose is to love my friends, neighbors, colleagues, and students;
- My purpose is to learn about the world around me, to educate myself and celebrate diversity;
- My purpose is to practice compassion and empathy for those less fortunate than I;
- My purpose is to seek truth and light, to do what is right, to help others, and to give even when I have nothing for myself;
- My purpose is to trust in the higher power, one that loves all it creates;
- My purpose is to educate our nation’s youth, to share knowledge, ethics, literature, dreams, ideas, and hope;
- My purpose is to write, to explore, to stumble, to learn from my mistakes and share my lessons;
- My purpose is to be true to my God, my country, my family, my friends, my employer, and most importantly to me;
- My purpose is to let America’s youth know I, too, once felt abandoned, ashamed, lost, unloved, and worthless;
- My purpose is to let America’s youth know that because of my family’s love and with the support of friends I found my place in the world;
- My purpose is to be filled with joy and experience joy with others;
- My purpose is to live in grace;
- My purpose is to shout from the highest mountain that today, because of my experience and the dismissal of people like you, I am a proud gay man!
What you have done, Ms. Medley, by announcing to our community that “gays have no purpose” is scar and destroy the self-worth of countless Wabash Valley LGBT teens who, by whatever means, heard your hateful and vitriolic words. You are not representative of Christianity. You are not representative of Christ’s message. You are certainly not representative of love. And you are not representative of those Hoosiers that live near you –the ones that love thy gay neighbor and love me.
Your purpose, it seems, by making such an anti-gay remark is to discriminate, to belittle, to exclude and hate, and to destroy. LGBT teens across our nation are struggling and many, after listening to folks like you, choose to take their life. Now it’s clear, you may count yourself among those who’ve come before spewing similar vile and venomous words and you share responsibility for the deaths of LGBT teens everywhere that’ve been beaten, committed suicide, or were murdered because of hate. There is only one choice here and it is yours. With your words and actions you now have chosen to wear their blood on your hands.
Yes, Ms. Medley, your purpose is anti-Christ.
J. Patrick Redmond
Vincennes, Indiana and Miami, Florida