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Fear And Loathing

I don’t know why I’m always surprised when Montanans insist on airing their xenophobia and fear of change in a public forum, but it continues to amaze me. The Kalispell Daily Inter Lake reports on a petition drive to persuade the City Council to forbid the upcoming Montana Pride Celebration parade scheduled for June 20. The petition states in part that, “The children and fellow citizens of our community should not be subject to see such displays that are in such direct defiance to God’s laws, His work and that are so openly immoral in nature”. Ignoring the poor grammar, I still find it particularly annoying that in a state such as Montana, settled by such a diverse group of people, there are elements that fail to grasp the influence that various cultures, races and lifestyles have had on our state. Early on, Montanans were forced to depend on their neighbors for survival. When they needed help they didn’t ask if the occupants of the next farm or ranch were Jews, Germans, Chinese or Baptists. They all struggled together to conquer a harsh environment. Somewhere along the line, we concocted a homogeneous “Ozzie and Harriet” fantasy world in which we all looked, thought and acted alike. We have convinced ourselves that this world actually existed somewhere in our recent past and if we can only return to that parallel universe, all conflict and complication will dissolve.

valley_ad3The Kalispell anti-gay pride petition had been signed by some 200 righteous citizens, which according to my math is somewhere around 1% of the metropolitan population. A poll conducted last year by the Montana Human Rights Network found that, 87% of Montana respondents agree with the statement “I may not agree with homosexuality, but I think we should stay out of what other people do in their personal lives.” If you disagree, don’t attend the parade. Don’t let your family attend. Wear ear plugs and blinders. We have parades that celebrate Easter, Christmas and the county fair. Also in June we will have a “March For Babies” and a “Solstice Triathalon“. In fact, in Montana, if you can get a dozen old cars and a couple of fire trucks together, we will have a parade at the drop of a hat.

Applaud the fact that not everyone in Montana is like you. I’m sorry, but if everybody in the state were white, straight, christian, republicans, this would be the most boring and backward place on the planet. As it is, we are sometimes backwards, but no one can ever say that Montana is boring. Come to the parade. Join your friends and neighbors and celebrate the diversity and tolerance that makes the Treasure State a great place to live.


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