BY JAMES NIMMO
The gay/straight alliance at the University of Central Oklahoma, a medium size state school in Edmond, OK, a bedroom town nearly contiguous with Oklahoma City, had a combination vigil/coming out day event on Tuesday, recognizing the recent suicide of Zack Harrington and National Coming Out Day. It was held in a large public park in Edmond.
I couldn’t stay for all of it but what I did see was a pretty good demonstration of being comfortable with being gay or lesbian. One of the leaders said the number was double over last year. I’d say about 70 people were there, mostly students in their early 20s, with some teenagers and older adults in the mix.
I’ve known I was gay, though I didn’t know the word, since 4th or 5th grade of elementary school. The dictionary I used talked about “self-pollution.” What a scream. I was afraid it would somehow show up when I had to go to the doctor for a required physical.
We put way too much emphasis on gender presentation and role playing when kids are too immature to understand their bodies and psychological needs. I think we should look at human development the same way we look at other living organisms that morph from one stage to another with radically different bodies. The outward shape of our human bodies doesn’t change so much, but the inner shape of our minds sure does – or they SHOULD change – doffing the myths and twisted beliefs we’re fed as children as we develop from our own experiences.
Several of the public speakers at the Norman, OK, City Council meeting mentioned religious belief in their objection to the GLBT history month proclamation, making another example of the ignorance many people have about the separation of religious views and civil policies under the First Amendment. This was the meeting attended by Zack Harrington and apparently forced him off the edge of life’s road.
Civil rights are the guaranteed benefits of being a citizen of this country – they are not subject to examination by a review panel to test if citizens are “worthy.” Civil rights are a birth right, inherent in the social contract between citizen and government.
Though I am a believer in the right of self-deliverance in the face of inescapable terminal illness, I’m nearly speechless and wordless in the face of the suicides caused by the vehement, venomous vocabulary of religious, flat-earth thinking spewed in public meetings and the media.
I’m reduced to involuntary head-shaking when trying to understand how the insidious poison of religion infiltrates young minds and dissolves the normal urge to live.
Religion has always been the mental fog in the road of human progress, from Galileo and Copernicus to stem-cell research to the legal recognition of citizens without regard for their sexual orientation.
It would appear that until more of us recognize the futility of religion, the false authority and violence it visits on innocent people, we’ll see more GLBT suicides as roadkill on the human highway.
The link below provides a video of the ill-fated Norman City Council meeting.
Oklahoma’s Zach Harrington, 19, Kills Himself After Hateful Town Meeting
– James Nimmo lives in Oklahoma City and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer