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Use of 'gay' in letter offends gay community

This letter is in response to a letter I read regarding the whole Gaea controversy. While I do agree that any kind of artwork is the freedom of expression of the artist, and it's the public's prerogative whether or not to view it.

As an ally for the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) community, reading a letter that begins "What freedom of expression we have in our gay city! (The word "gay" means bright and lively. Anyone who reads a double entendre has probably been exposed to something that person should not have been exposed to.)" literally made me cringe.

First of all, to say that if you think the word "gay" means anything other than "bright and lively" you've been exposed to something bad, has got to be the most ignorant and homophobic statement I have ever heard in my entire life! I have many friends in the gay community, many of whom I can't imagine life without, and even though I've dealt with this many times in recent years, it still hurts me to the core when people will write off this wonderful community simply because of what they are.

Fifty-plus years ago, when gay did mean "bright and lively," homosexuals were viewed as criminal, as subhuman, and unfit to associate with the rest of society, simply because they love others of their own gender, living in fear of being "found out" because the world around them didn't understand them. Gays were often jailed and lost their jobs, homes and families because of whom they loved.

Well-meaning, law-abiding citizens of our nation accused of something thought to be so heinous that they were often lumped together with pedophiles (which puzzles me because the majority of pedophiles are heterosexual men). I cannot for the life of me fathom how a society can look at a community of people and judge them based on whom they love.

True, just like with artwork, you don't always have to understand it, but to disagree with someone being gay is like disagreeing with someone being a different skin color as you, or a different height, or anything else that makes us different from one another.

Sadie Ruge

St. Paul