Clint McCance, vice president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Arkansas, ranted on his facebook page back on October 20, 2010 about gay spirit day - where people wore purple to remember the teens who had killed themselves as a result of anti-gay bullying:
"The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide," he wrote.
"I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die," he said in another comment about gay people. His comments were riddled with anti-gay slurs.
What happened then is fascinating: He didn't get away with it. While he wasn't fired, he did announce his resignation. He told Anderson Cooper that he and his family received threats and were the victims of hate speech targeted to them, and that he's moved his wife and children out of state to protect them. And while he seems a bit bewildered that his comments created such a stir, what's fascinating is that our culture shifted:
It's not that we've never heard this level of hate before (sadly, we have, many times) - it's that suddenly, a person in his position (a school board member, charged with the educational guidance of our country's youth) is NO LONGER ALLOWED to say this out loud.
You can watch his interview with Anderson Cooper here.
Now I'm not thrilled that Clint McCance and his family have experienced death threats and hate speech directed against them, but I do find it worth noting that our cultural acceptance of this kind of anti-GLBTQ hate speech has ended.
And about that, I'm quite pleased.
Nobody should celebrate any "other" person's being hounded, bullied, murdered or driven to suicide. Not if that other person is a member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning community. And not even if that other person is a homophobe like Clint McCance.
Having said that, I hope the other homophobes are watching what happened to Clint McCance when he celebrated the death of queer youth. And I hope from now on they watch what they say and post - because they will held accountable for their words, too.
Our world is changing.
And anti-gay hate speech is no longer acceptable.
This is one big step towards making things better!