Letter: We need to respond to hatred, intolerance with support for the queer community | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: We need to respond to hatred, intolerance with support for the queer community

My name is Mark Fitzgerald. I’m executive director at Better Tomorrow, the home of Advocates of Routt County, Brighter World Child Advocacy Center and the new COMMA Projects. We also proudly serve as fiscal sponsor for Yampa Valley Pride.

I feel compelled to address recurring outbursts of intolerance shared as comments on this paper’s Facebook page under the guise of concern.

At Better Tomorrow we understand that people from marginalized communities are more at risk of harm in our society. Victimization is not limited to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse or any of the other many harms experienced by the people we serve. Marginalized folks face an array of additional threats and forms of violence. I’m proud that our team serves as leaders in raising awareness of these risks.

Leadership Steamboat’s class has recognized that which many doing human services work are already aware of — the increased frequency of abuse of our local LGBTQIA+ community. I am far from a spokesperson for the queer community, but I recognize that the privilege and status I enjoy comes with a responsibility to stand alongside those who don’t share the same benefits. It has become apparent that I need to leverage these privileges to stand alongside my friends in the queer community as an ally.

Constant attacks leading to a perpetual alert state create an undue burden, borne by those from marginalized communities who constantly feel the need to defend their existence in the face of outlandish, indefensible assaults. Hate speech has no place in Steamboat, in Colorado or in this country. 

I have good and bad news for our neighbors who seem unable to accept the queer community: Your attitudes and beliefs don’t have to change. But society has moved on without you. You have the right to believe what you wish, but self-righteousness does not grant you the permission to do harm. 

To my other allies out there — and I know you’re out there — stand with me in vocal support of our queer community. We must match hatred and intolerance at equal volume and with tangible support so our elected representatives, coworkers, neighbors, loved ones, spiritual leaders and others in power know that we who accept and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community vastly outnumber the bigots making so much noise.

I stand in solidarity with the queer community. Come along or be left behind.

Mark Fitzgerald

Steamboat Springs

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