Live honest life, be true to yourself

April 09, 2012 06:24 pm
Young gay people need our love and, yes, acceptance. Not our judgment.

The desire to be liked is innate in the human animal. Some of us have more yearning for approval than others. 

I have had the good fortune not to be plagued by the fear of being unpopular.

Oscar Wilde had one of his characters say, “Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.”

I am, therefore, willing to say I think Mayor Daniel Pokorney got off too easy after his recent remarks on Facebook that proved offensive to gays. He called same-sex unions “an abomination” and equated states that recognize gay marriage with Sodom and Gomorrah.

His defenders in the Observer’s Letters to the Editor column have matched or outnumbered those who objected to his remarks. Some even portrayed him as the victim of intolerance.

The Observer itself carried an editorial that called his choice of words “offensive” but said he had done nothing to merit the calls for his resignation. 

Eastern Oregon University President Bob Davies, who hosted the forum at which Pokorney offered his so-called apology, sheltered the mayor from answering any questions. 

But the mayor was not the victim in the incident, as his several defenders claim. He was forced into dialogue.

His “friends” on Facebook have increased.

By the way, those who said his expressions were on his “private” Facebook page may be unaware that Facebook offers the option of only allowing access to those one has befriended.

Nor was the mayor required to post on his Facebook page that he was La Grande’s mayor.

Here’s what was truly wrong with the mayor’s offensive and unkind statements:

Young people crave approval. Popularity is a goal few can ignore during the teen years, and gay teenagers are subjected to a barrage of bulling from their peers. 

Bullying gains credibility when elected officials seem to sanction it with anti-gay remarks. Bullying often leads to hate crimes and to a disproportionate number of suicides and suicide attempts by young gay people. 

There are young gay people everywhere. I had a student from Iran once who told me there were no gays in Iran because, he said cheerfully, “we kill them.” I told him I was pretty sure they’d missed a few. 

If gays are less visible here in Northeast Oregon, it’s because they’ve been forced to deny who they are. 

They hide. They stay in the closet. Or they may leave, as many have. They do so in order not to face disapproval --- not just from the openly bigoted but also from those who say, sweetly, “God doesn’t hate homosexuals, only homosexuality,” as if that helps. 

So I would say this to those young gay people:

Not everyone thinks you are abominable. Those who do may be the most shrill. They may, in fact, even be the majority — but not by much and, believe me, not for long.

Time is on your side. The nation has changed and will continue to do so.

There’s a place for you, not just in America, but in Northeast Oregon as well. 

Stephen Crane wrote a poem called “Think as I Think” that goes like this:

“Think as I think,”
said a man,

“Or you are abominably wicked; 

You are a toad.”

And after I had thought of it, I said, 

“I will then, be a toad.”

If you want to live an honest life, be true to yourself, and make your own kind of music, then you’d better be that toad. But you are not alone. 


Mike Shearer can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it