Sally Kern does NOT speak for Oklahoma

I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out exactly what to write about the whole Sally Kern ordeal. At first I was just kind of amazed that someone would say things like that and believe them. As I keep reading about it, including the fact that she has a gay son (more on my thoughts of using this as leverage against her later) and that the Republican controlled state House of Representatives gave her a standing ovation for *not* apologizing, I get more and more angry. Not an angry that would make me go out and do malicious things, but an angry that makes me want to fight for these close minded people to wake up. And also fight to make people who aren’t from here and can’t see past the Oklahoma stereotypes realize that Oklahoma is not some completely backward state.

Beyond anger, I feel pity for her. Crazy, I know. But I feel pity that she lives her life in such a hateful way while making a mask of Christianity. I feel pity for her son, Jesse. Not only has he been an outcast from his own family, but now we as gays and lesbians are using his life and, honestly, his mistakes in life as leverage against his mother. We shouldn’t have to fight the wars of our fathers, let alone be used in the wars against our fathers without our own consent. Has he stepped forward to make a statement? Do we really have to go into such detail about his indiscretions at Oklahoma Baptist? I feel pity that he had to grow up in that household, and I don’t hold it against him that he thought that was the only way he could act upon his desires he had been forced to repress.

I was somewhat surprised at the standing ovation by the state house. I know for a fact not every one of them would have supported her speech and her refusal to apologize. Al McAffrey, Oklahoma’s first openly gay state legislator, probably acted in about the most Christian of ways to her upon seeing her on Monday morning. He walked up to her, hugged her and said she looked like she had had a tough weekend.

Sally Kern doesn’t speak for Oklahoma. On some base level, I’m sure she probably speaks for some of the people in Oklahoma, true. But the things she said in her speech are hateful and without basis in fact. To call a group of people “a worse threat than terrorists or Islam” is not only hateful to the main group she is talking about, but also slides in a slander against another minority. She is promoting, whether she believes it or not, a continued hatred for gays and Muslims and gives credit and validation to people to hate and physically hurt those two groups. And sadly, there are people who agree with her. Just like there are people who think this country was founded by the pure ethereal essence of Christianity. But this thinking does not seep into every pore of every Oklahoman.

My friend Nathan possibly says it best:
“People are constantly asking me what I must be smoking that I, as a gay man, live in Oklahoma. Similarly, most of the gays I know endlessly bitch about how awful and repressive and stupid Oklahoma is, what with its megachurches and Hummers and lack of decent public transportation and endless suburban sprawl and with neighborhood after neighborhood of identical houses with GOP signs in their yards. Most of these people then move to Dallas, with its megachurches and Hummers and lack of decent public transportation and endless suburban sprawl with neighborhood after neighborhood of identical houses with GOP signs in their yards.
[…]
I think what makes me the most irritable about this is that it makes Oklahoma look like some backwater place where homos are hunted down and lynched, where creativity is stifled and we don’t want anyone in our midst who is even the slightest bit different than us. Oklahoma’s not like that at all – it’s not gay hell, it’s not bereft of artistic or creative people and it’s certainly nowhere near as boring as, say, Connecticut. But to the degree that it is unable to attract a higher caliber of creative and productive people, businesses and industries, it is because of people like Sally Kern, who are constantly going out of their way to make people feel as unwelcome, unwanted and unloved as she possibly can. You know. Just like Jesus wants.”

I get angry most of all that she is trying to play herself off as the victim in all of this. I’m sure all of the attention, positive and negative, is taking a toll on her. But I can only hope that even in some fleeting moment she will maybe think to herself, “My God, is this what it feels like to be the subject of even part of the persecution some of these people feel?” I highly doubt she will, but I can hope.

I am a proud Oklahoman. My family made the land run and settled here before statehood. I’m proud of the progress some of us are trying to make, even in the face of people like Ms. Kern. But Sally Kern does not speak for me.

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There is an anti-hate speech political rally being held in OKC tonight (Friday March 14) at Memorial Park (NW 36th & Classen, where the Pride Festival is held), from 5:30-6:30, and you are only asked to bring yourself and signs if you feel comfortable holding them.

It is sponsored by The Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus among others.

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