I shared this piece from the 7/6/2003 Portsmouth (Ohio) Daily Times during Blogathon six years ago. It still resonates, so let’s share it again.
Freedom Rings Differently In Us Allby Rick Greene, PDT Managing Editor
Hunter T. had always dressed very conservatively, but today was different.
He traded in his slacks and button down for a pair of shorts and a loud shirt decorated with an American flag.
“Nice threads,” Sylvia W. said as she walked up to the bar at the Downtown Coffee Shop. “Independence Day wasn’t lost on you, was it?”
Hunter smiled and replies, “Nope.”
Quentin C. grabbed a seat and had a dejected look on his face and it was clear he wanted someone to inquire.
Rufus took the bait.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Quentin then talked about what a wonderful Fourth of July weekend he was having before it got ruined. He mentioned a round of golf, a cookout, a swim in the pool and the fireworks show.
“But when I was down there at the fireworks show on the river, I saw two men together,” Quentin said. “You know, TOGETHER.”
The other three looked at him with raised eyebrows thinking there had to be more to the story. Sylvia pressed him.
“So? So what?” she asked in an almost aggravated tone. “What’s the big deal?”
Quentin then went on to explain it wasn’t that he disliked homosexuals, but he did not agree with the lifestyle. He was particularly upset with the Supreme Court’s decision last week that made a ban on gay sex unconstitutional.
“What business is it of yours!” Sylvia said. “I mean really, what impact does it have on your life if two gay men – or gay women – have sex? Those people you were talking about might contribute to the community, contribute to their church, be good, caring people.”
She wasn’t finished. Much to the contrary, she was getting wound up in a way that wasn’t unfamiliar to the regular customers.
“People like you are the problem around here,” Sylvia said in a way that let Hunter and Rufus know her anger had just gone up a notch. “You can’t accept diversity. If people are different from you or do things differently than you, it has to be wrong.”
Rufus thought Sylvia was getting a little too personal so he intervened. As usual, his gentlemanly manner settled everybody down.
But it wasn’t that he disagreed with Sylvia. He put his arm around Quentin, in a kind of fatherly manner, and pointed out the window.
“Do you see that?” Rufus asked, as he directed Quentin’s attention to the American flag that hung on the pole outside the shop.
“Fifty stars for 50 states. They’re filled with people of all sorts of backgrounds and cultures with all sorts of religious views and belief systems.”
Quentin took a deep breath as if he was about to respond.
“Wait,” Rufus interrupted. “Just wait.
“You remember the Declaration of Independence, don’t you? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ and all that,” Rufus said as a light breeze began to lift the flag. “What do you think that means?”
Rufus answered his own question by telling Quentin it wasn’t that long ago when people viewed blacks, like Rufus’ ancestors, in the same regard Quentin had for the two gay men.
“Do you understand son?” Rufus asked. “Do you understand?”
. Rick Green can be reached at (740) 353-3101, Ext. 244 or by e-mail.
Gotta get more Kleenex.