Two weeks ago I wrote a post in response to the Homer City Council’s canceled meeting. It was a personal post as it involved my daughter. Although I had her blessing, my writing put her in an interesting (and very public) spot. She watched from afar as hundreds of people read my blog post and the subsequent “Point of View” piece in the Homer News. Below is her own response to all the hullabaloo:
Thoughts on Homer Pride by Adella Sundmark
In response to the recent goings on in Homer, thank you to everyone who has shown the LGBTQ community love, compassion, and support. I want to share a little bit of my own perspective, because I worry that some people may have misunderstood where I am coming from.
I want to clarify that I do not, overall, feel unwelcome in Homer. I will be visiting home in about a week, and I can’t wait to go across the bay with my family, meet friends at Alice’s, and spend time with my black labs on East End Road. The city council members’ actions were certainly not welcoming or encouraging, however they are not, by themselves, how I decide where to live. They are just going to be one more thing in the back of my mind when I someday decide where I want to live with my girlfriend and our future family.
I want to live in a place where I can be my full self without fear. Is it because I am “too fragile” to handle the subtle (and not so subtle) homophobia and hatred that LGBTQ people experience every day? Absolutely not. I have handled plenty of that already and, by the looks of things, I have plenty more ahead of me. Am I going to consider where I am likely to be safe and welcome as someone in a visibly queer relationship? Will I try to minimize the homophobia my family and I will undoubtedly experience wherever we live? Of course.
To be honest, a proclamation in support of LGBTQ citizens is a relatively small gesture. It basically says, “We see that you exist, and we are okay with it.” Do I appreciate it? Yes. Is it earth shattering? No. However, the council members’ refusal to show up to a job that they were elected to do simply because recognizing the existence of people like me is so controversial? That is no small statement at all. That sends a message.
I think a lot of the controversy comes from people not understanding why things like Pride are important. If everyone is equal, why keep highlighting our differences and making such a big deal out of things? To those people, I see where you are coming from. I too want to live in a world where our differences don’t matter, everyone is equal, and pride parades aren’t necessary. However the reality is, LGBTQ people (and countless other minorities) have historically been, and continue to be, the subject of discrimination. Sometimes it comes in grand gestures of hatred, such as the horrific massacre of 49 LGBTQ people at Pulse Night Club in 2016. Sometimes it comes in more subtle ways, such as parents requesting their child not be in a lesbian teacher’s class because her lifestyle is “not appropriate” for children. Sometimes this hatred destroys families, such as when parents kick out a child because they don’t look or act or speak the way that a boy or girl “should.”
My point is that Pride exists specifically because LGBTQ people are, to this day, not treated equally. It is a matter of civil rights. Think about why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important. Is it because other lives don’t matter? Of course not. It is because historically, and to this day, black people experience violence and discrimination due to their skin color. I understand that Black Lives Matter and Pride exist in completely different ways, however in both cases, they represent an attempt to counteract the unique discrimination that each group experiences.
I am not fragile, and I certainly don’t want any special crown for being gay. However the idea that people can be gay if they just stay quiet about it is a form of homophobia. The message I received from the council members who did not show up for their job was just that. Lets stay quiet on this one. Thankfully, I received a quite different message from many people in Homer.
If you want to live in a place where pride isn’t necessary, we’ve got work to do. I am not saying that everyone has to march in a parade. If that doesn’t work for you, think about what does. Maybe speak up when you hear kids calling a boy in their class a faggot. Maybe start reading articles by members of the LGBTQ community in an effort to better understand their experiences. Maybe take time to make sure your children know that you love them unconditionally, no matter who they turn out to be or love. In any case, do something. Perhaps more importantly, be respectful and supportive of others who are trying to do something. Show love and ask questions with an intent to learn. Happy Pride!