Holland fights hate

By |2010-08-05T09:00:00-04:00August 5th, 2010|Uncategorized|

The gay community is used to being bombarded by negativity by anti-gay organizations and individuals. From Westboro Baptist Church to the American Family Association, we see protestors at Pride events, signage at concerts and sometimes, even advertisements in local media outlets.
But within the past week, we have seen a community’s response to one such form of hate that has shown us that, even in cities and towns we wouldn’t normally refer to as “pro-gay,” support is there. Sometimes, it just takes a little prodding to help it come out.
On July 23, a full-page paid advertisement appeared in the Holland Sentinel, courtesy of the Family Research Council. Titled “Is Homosexuality A Civil Rights Issue?” the advertisement addressed so-called “gay myths,” spreading atrocious lies about our lives and our community in an attempt to persuade readers to prohibit the anti-discrimination ordinance currently before the Holland City Council.
Thankfully, due to many interlocking factors, the advertisement failed. Miserably.
The first “thank you” goes to the group Holland Is Ready, a gay activism organization started this year to promote equality in the area. From Dustin Lance Black’s not-so-warm welcome to Hope College to the current battle for the ordinance, Holland Is Ready is on the fast-track to making Holland, Mich., a more LGBT-friendly place.
Likewise, they jumped on the FRC ad, encouraging readers to respond to the paper, gathering reactions from pro-gay city leaders and reaching out to all corners of Michigan for support.
Their work paid off, and so our second “thank you” goes, surprisingly, to the citizens of Holland, who showed their overwhelming disapproval of both the message in the ad and the Holland Sentinel’s choice to accept money and run it.
“The ad was hate mongering propaganda through and through. Derisive accusations were made toward members of our own community,” wrote Eric T. Voigt. “Paid advertising is fine. This was paid discrimination.”
“The … advertisement represents to me blatant evidence that discrimination against the LGBT community exists in Holland,” added Audrianne Hill. “While no one was physically attacked with the ad, it cannot be denied the ad was an emotional attack.”
The letters of support for the LGBT community were wonderful to see. But, as icing on the cake, this week the Holland-based food packaging company Request Foods, which was listed as providing financial support for the advertisement, denounced the ad and insisted that it was a private investor – not the company – that helped pay for it. “The opinions expressed in the ad do not reflect Request Foods’ views and the ad should not have included our company name,” the company wrote in statement on their website.
All in all, it seems that FRC’s attempt at spreading hate has done more good for gay rights than harm. It has sparked important discussions in a city desperately in need of change. It has galvanized a community to show their support when otherwise, they might sit idly by. And it has shown the Holland City Council that yes, discrimination toward LGBT people does exist in their quaint little West Michigan town.
So I suppose our last “thank you” goes to FRC for being the catalyst Holland needed to fight LGBT discrimination. Now let’s pass that ordinance.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.