GAY IN THE HEARTLAND

Maybe I’m under-estimating red state tolerance:

I’m 26, and an out gay male living in Grand Junction, Colorado. It’s my hometown, and a very conservative place to live. Western Colorado is not known for its tolerance. The airport is named for the founder of the local KKK branch.
I came out 6 years ago in the big city of Dallas, TX and had the comfort of a huge “gay community” that included our own “gayborhood,” two city-council members and a supportive public. I moved back home to Western Colorado for various reasons about a year ago. I was dreading the idea of being “out” in the place I was born and raised…but I decided to be completely honest with anyone who asked.
Within a few weeks of course people asked about me. “Do you have a girlfriend? Why not? ” or simply, “Are you gay?” I was honest with everyone and expected a backlash. Nothing. Well, I say nothing…but what really happened was a lot of cool straight people smiled and said “Thats awesome” or “Oh yeah? Got a boyfriend? I know someone you should meet!”
I would say that no one cared, but in a sense, they all cared. They cared about me and wanted me to be honest and happy. I’ve even had a few of my straight guy friends say “You’re the coolest dude we know…gay or straight.” A few offered to kick any homophobic ass that says or does anything to harm me. Luckily that hasn’t happened…but the sentiment was nice.
I have had only one negative experience. I was at a club recently. Some random guy yelled “Faggot” in my direction. I’m not sure who it was, but they didn’t do anything else to cause trouble. Once I told my straight friends who were with me, they nearly started a riot. I had to hold them back from attacking anyone in that vicinity for calling me that name.
There I was, a gay man in the heart of straight country. And every person around me was willing to fight for my sake. I never thought that would have ever happened in my hometown. But it did. And I’m glad.

I’m glad too. The religious right is fighting a losing battle on this one. And they’re also fighting the compassion and love of the Jesus they claim to represent.

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