Saturday, December 08, 2007
Bothwell and the Gay Couple. Part II
About a week ago I wrote a post about a gay couple who complained that they had been terrorized by a bunch of homophobes in the small town of Bothwell, Ontario.
And although I admit I had to look up the town on Google Earth ....I've learned quite a bit about Bothwell ever since.
As you can see in the comments...I have been engaged in an interesting... and respectful.... discussion with some Bothwell residents who feel their town has been unfairly portrayed as a hateful place.
I promised them I'd keep an open mind and update the story as soon as I could. But there have been no follow up stories in the two papers that ran the story. So I have been following the debate in the letters to the editor pages of the local media. Like this one.
From what I've read quite a few residents seem to suggest that the Hamiltons were the authors of their own misfortune:
The saying goes, if you want to have good neighbours, you need to be a good neighbour.When these men moved into Bothwell, they met people with, “Hi, I’m Terry (or Ryan) and I’m gay.”Who cares?They made sure people knew they were gay, like they were more special than others. I have never met anyone with, “Hi, I’m Lori and I’m heterosexual.”
And Erin has more to say about that in a long comment you can read at the bottom of my last post:
i have been doing investigations into this matter and there are several more instances this has come about including the owners of two businesses that were approached within the first week of the hamiltons living in town about if they would serve the couple because they are gay.. now is that somehting most homosexual people would do i don't think so it sounds to me that they were digging...
...the spray paint incident happened on October 16th only two weeks before the hamiltons moved (which was planned before the event happened) tell me they felt threatened before then guys come on nothing happened before then except a couple kids stole their lawn orniments and out them on the roof of the building besonde them give me a break look at the facts ....
Others are outraged that the whole town has been smeared:
It sickens me that the Hamiltons have succeeded in portraying Bothwell as some gay-hating, redneck town that runs people out. Secondly, this isn’t news, it’s libel.This story has destroyed the credibility of many wonderful people, who have worked and continue to work hard to make Bothwell a wonderful little town in which to live. If they Hamiltons think they’re upset, just think of how the volunteers and business people feel to hear that they’re rednecks and anti-gay. Many residents didn’t even know this couple existed.
And then there's the former resident who worked at the local paper:
Does this latest incident surprise me? No. Regrettably, during my time at The Spirit of Bothwell I would hear derogatory comments being made in the community about a variety of groups -- be it because of their nationality, sexual preference, race, etc.
So is Bothwell the exception to the rule? Not at all. This sort of narrow-minded attitude is prevalent in other small towns and, for that matter, every big city you can think of. But the idea of ‘just leave us alone, other places are like this as well’ is moot. While it is true such bigotry happens elsewhere, right now, Bothwell, you’re in the spotlight and you must address what has occurred.
By simply saying ‘oh well’ and hoping the storm subsides is not going to accomplish anything. The odious and abhorrent thoughts of a few have, unfortunately, tarnished what so many in Bothwell have worked in trying to accomplish for decades regarding their town -- to be an appealing, quaint place to raise a family.
After reading all of this I'm not going to even TRY to judge who I think is right or wrong. Firstly who am I to judge? Secondly..... I have no reason to believe anyone isn't telling the truth as he or she sees it. And of course I haven't heard a word from the Hamiltons.
But I will say this: In the original newspaper article the Hamiltons said most of the hate came from a "handful" of residents. So it's not fair to blame the whole town for the actions of a few. And I think most people understand that so the town should relax a bit.
On the other hand.... whether or not the two gay men were prickly neighbours... or whether or not some incidents may have been blown out of proportion...nothing can justify the attack on the Hamiltons the night the lights went out .....or the "Die Fags" scrawled on their house.
That's a HATE crime and the person or persons responsible should be charged ...or severely reprimanded whether they are juveniles or not. And the fact that nobody has so far is troubling.
As the former resident who worked at the local paper wrote:
So while I am personally bothered by the latest incident, what’s troubling is that I’m not actually shocked.What will shock me, however, is if those residents of Bothwell who are ill at ease over what has happened simply shrug it off.
The good news? The people of Bothwell ARE standing up for their town. They have a facebook page called "Bothwell--not full of homophobic people we deserve the right to a rebuttal" If you have a facebook account you should check them out.
And the best part is...whether they intended to or not ....they ARE sending out a powerful message of tolerance. Homophobia or any kind of hate stinks. And we don't want it in our town.
At least I hope that's the message people hear.
Because it's a good one.
And judging by Google Earth.
It does look like a pretty town...