Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oklahoma's Heterosexism

On July 17, 2008, the Tulsa World published the following article on their website:

"By Law Not a Hate Crime"


I originally saw this article in print while working in the reference section, however, quick to turn to the computer to see what the community's feedback would be, I ran a quick search of the Tulsa World's website to find the article copied in full. However, I noticed something rather peculiar about this article. On the right hand side of the article, there is a continuously updated box for most commented articles. I had noticed this box before when searching for an article about a friend's apartment fire. (PS-I was completely shocked by what some Tulsans had to say about the fire and the people of the neighborhood, not that I wasn't equally shocked by want some locals from back home had to say about that NOPD officer speeding across the CCC.)

Anyways, I thought it was so weird that David Schulte's article on this supposed "hate crime" would not allow readers to leave comments. I was partially shocked because I wanted to see what people had to say, and also, I was shocked because I felt that I should have something to say. Having experienced quite an awkward two weeks last semester trying to teach my students some "homosexual" literature (if there is even such a thing), I was not surprised that Tulsa would have such hideous hate crimes (home of the race riots of 19-teen-something). Hatred abounds everywhere. However, I was just shocked because for all of its faults, Tulsa is a really cool city sometimes, and I know that there is quite a gay population here. Also, Tulsa is home to one of the largest GLBT community centers in this area.

So just when I thought it was safe to get married and adopt, I read about what happened to Robert Stotler and his partner. I felt sorry for them, but I also felt scared for myself. Is this going to happen to me? How will I be able to deal with this? I've never been one to take kindly to neighbors (I've yet to meet any of my neighbors in the apartment complex I'm in for almost a year, and on Beehan, I had Laura...). But could I live in a community where everyone hated me because of who I am? (This fear was also (re-)sparked by watching Stephen King's The Mist, which I watched last night and recommend for all to watch.)

Fear. I was once told by Stave that a lot of gays feared what would happen after the Civil Rights Movement because they felt that after African-Americans, the WASP-y right would come after them. Low and behold, its happening. This is why sexual orientation should be protected under the constitution and federal laws. The article mentions that few wish to report because of fear of being fired or exposed. And that just a shame. I should fear getting fired because I suck at my job not because of who I suck off.

My hat is off to Stotler and his partner. They are brave men. I know that I couldn't live in this part of the country for long, and sad to say, but I am already looking for a way out. I hope they catch these criminals and they serve time (not that redeems anyone). Until then, I guess we have to hope that America and Americans can be better than they have been in past and they are right now and that one day Americans won't have to fear and hate others because of their sexual orientation.