Thursday, June 18, 2009

On This Week's Feature ...

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 7:03 AM

Those readers dedicated solely to the new Boiseweekly.com may not often read my weekly editor's note. In print, it takes its place just below Ted Rall each week. But on the Web site we bury it under Opinion at the bottom of a secondary page, and instead allow content to take priority.

I don't often think what I have to say is very important, despite the visibility much of what I say does get. This, though, is important. And I know many of you would agree.

Welcome to Boise Weekly's annual Pride issue.

That's gay pride for those of you who haven't been paying attention.

I'd also like to welcome you to my 54th issue as editor. Last year's Pride issue, which ran a week earlier in June than this one, was my first edition at the helm of this beast, and over the last 12 months, I've continued to consider Pride the best place to start.

First, let me come out. I'm straight. In fact, as I was wrapping up my interview with BJ Bjorn and CK Walker for this week's feature story (Page 13), CK thanked me for not asking stupid questions since, she said, I was obviously straight. Ironically, earlier in our conversation, CK had talked about being stereotyped as a lesbian based on her appearance and rhetorically asked, "What is it? Do I have a red dot somewhere that I don't know about?" I wondered that about myself as she pointed out my straightness.

CK and her wife BJ spent part of a Saturday afternoon talking to me about their marriage in California last fall and their lives together and as members of a community that some in mainstream society disdain. Though I've had many conversations with people who fall into every spectrum of the LGBT community in Boise, my chat with BJ and CK was particularly poignant. Regrettably, as readers, you'll get only a small portion of a much larger picture that is their life together. Over my time with BW, I've collected many of those much larger pictures from members of the LGBT community in Boise—pictures that can only be told in print in much smaller pieces. Each of them sticks with me and because of that, I feel very strongly that all forms of LGBT discrimination must stop if we are going to call ourselves a properly civilized, free and just society.

Not everyone would agree that gay rights and same-sex marriage are appropriate topics for me to voice an opinion on. As a journalist, I have a responsibility to tell both sides of every story. But as the editor of an alternative newspaper, I have a responsibility to find the stories of injustice and wrongdoing in our city and to tell them. Denying any segment of our population, be it women, minorities or the disabled, the same rights as afforded to straight, white men is injustice. And I have no intention of telling my grandchildren that while the battle for equality was raging, I was too chickenshit to publicly take a stand against discrimination, hatred and injustice.

I say that last sentence with an optimism that assumes the LGBT community will win equal rights in the future. I do believe it will happen. As I reported this story, however, I learned something very valuable about the future of gay rights and the road to getting there: My voice as an ally is perhaps heard more loudly than those voices within the LGBT community. None of those who've been marginalized in the past have won their fights alone. It took the support of men to advocate for women, whites to help fight for blacks, the abled to recognize the disabled. Now, it's time for straights to stand up for the equality they believe this country is capable of guaranteeing every citizen.

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