Whenever I visit my friends in the Bible Belt, they complain about how Conservative it is and I brag about living in a country that respects gay rights.
Despite their complaints, it’s become apparent to me that what my friends’ gay communities lack in liberties, they more than make up for with heart.
Recently my friend from Tulsa, Oklahoma was telling me how their gay community centre lost its lease because they were doing anonymous AIDS testing. In just five years, the community raised a million dollars and bought a building.
“You bought the building?” I asked, like he was crazy.
“Yeah. So it won’t happen again.”
“You mean to say the community recognized a problem and together they fixed it?”
This was foreign to me. Where was the infighting and backstabbing? The steady stream of resignations? The heated debates that go nowhere?
My friend didn’t see what the big deal was. He thought I was the one who was crazy.
Look at the source: The Centre’s board of directors has been arguing for years about what goes in the community centre notwithstanding there’s no place to house it. The Pride Society has had more personality conflicts than Sybil.
No wonder people don’t get involved.
The Pride Society’s vice-president suggested a “Retreat” might cure what ails it. Umm… No! You don’t reward a stalemate with a vacation. That’s like having a baby to save a relationship. If I’m interpreting what I’ve been reading and hearing correctly, what both these boards need is to learn how to listen and compromise.
Maybe if Vancouver were located in the Bible Belt it would have the gay community centre it’s worthy of. Tulsa’s community didn’t have the luxury of government funds; if they had, it would have been under the condition they promote abstinence.
In Bible Belt terms, what Tulsa did was nothing less than a miracle but it is also an enormous source of pride. You should have seen the lump in my friend’s throat when he talked about it. I was jealous.
Some time ago I was having a beer with my barber and his friend. Out of the blue, the friend gestured towards a prominent member of our community and said, “I’m so sick of everybody having to like everyone else. I hate half the people in this room and I don’t care if they hate me!”
Buzz kill aside, he surmised what’s wrong with this community. I didn’t know if I should slug him or kiss him.
Before I could decide, the wise soul who is my barber said, “That doesn’t mean we can’t all get along.”
No truer words spoken.
If Tulsa, Oklahoma can do it, then so should we.