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Sometimes you get a wake-up call….

I apologize in advance, because this blog is not funny.

It’s about shock, sadness, some understandable complacency, perhaps a premature victory lap and the specter of a man riding around with a white sheet on his head.
The phone rang several hours ago and a man asked for me by name,
“I’m Fay Jacobs,” I said.

He asked if I was the one who wrote the letter to the editor using the term “traditional family values” being code for anti-gay. It was the letter about the Mayor, he said.

I knew exactly what letter it was. It was one in which I expressed disappointment that in the Washington Blade, Rehoboth’s Mayor Cooper was quoted as wanting to keep “establishments from spoiling Rehoboth’s status and tradition as a family-oriented vacation destination.” I don’t even think the Mayor meant it as anti-gay. I think it was meant to express his concern about loud music and noisy bars. But I did want to make the point that “family-oriented” is often used as code for anti-gay and we should be past having the Mayor use the coded phrase, however inadvertently, when discussing Rehoboth Beach.

I told the caller that I wrote that letter and he began explaining, rather quietly, that I was an enemy of the United States for pushing the homosexual agenda, demeaning the tradition of one man and one woman and how dare I demean family values.

”You are a disgusting person who, along with all the homosexuals in town, ruined Rehoboth Beach. I am going to do everything within my power to protect my children from the likes of you and those disgusting homosexuals in Rehoboth, even the ones who think that they have won their rights and convinced some politicians to put forth the dangerous homosexual agenda.”

I was so stunned I couldn’t even hang up. I quietly asked him his name and, of course, he refused to give it to me, and continued with his scary, quiet conversation that so frightened me I almost threw up.

I asked if he lived here and he intimated that he did. He just kept talking and I don’t remember much of what else he said, because I was numb.

I asked him why, since I was proud to share my views in a public forum like a Letters to the Editor column, he did not answer my letter with his own views, attributed to him, in the newspaper. He told me he just wanted to talk to me personally so I would understand that this will not be tolerated. I told him that calling anonymously was cowardice.

I told him I felt very sad that his gay neighbors frightened him so badly that he had to seek me out on the phone to call me names anonymously and denigrate me and so many, many other Rehoboth residents as well.

He protested that he wasn’t frightened and I shouldn’t think that gay people in Rehoboth have gotten away with anything – that there are people out there that won’t let this town be destroyed by sick homosexuals and that we should all seek therapy and try to change. You are an enemy of the United States, he repeated and you will not win, he was very, very quietly threatening. I said I was sad that he didn’t value and learn from the diversity around him, and hung up.

We couldn’t get a *69 number as he was a “private caller.” Of course he was.

I called Steve Elkins at CAMP Rehoboth and told him what had happened. He was horribly upset as well, counseling that if he called again, it might be considered stalking and the police might be able to trace the call. Steve told me that in all the years he has been a public figure with CAMP, he has never had a phone call like that. Anonymous letters, yes, but not a call.

I’d never received anything like this either, even with my more that 20 years as an openly gay writer and gay rights advocate.

So I called the police and reported the incident. The State Trooper I spoke with was very saddened to hear the story and sympathetic, but of course, we both knew there was nothing to be done. The anonymous call itself was not any kind of a crime….

Further calls might be harassment or stalking and the officer gave me a case number should I hear from the man again. He figured I would not.

Needless to say, the incident set me and Bonnie on edge and ruined the night.

But it told me a few important things.

First, like Klansmen riding around in their hoods, there are people here who have to hide while spreading their vicious hatred;

Second, some of us, myself included, might be a little too complacent about our freedoms here. It reminded me why CAMP Rehoboth was formed in the first place and why it is so important for CAMP to continue sensitivity training programs, outreach to the greater community, and efforts to make friends and stop bullying, hate-speech, hate crimes and plain old bigotry. Dances and art shows are nice, but CAMP is so much more than the fun stuff;

Next, it makes me urge those of you reading this who are not CAMP Rehoboth members, to join up please – or join the GLBT organizatiuons in your town. Your membership dues fund the important work of making it safe and welcoming for us here in this community. You can join online at www.camprehoboth.com. Do it now if you can.

And finally, this incident, rather than make me cower and hide, makes me more determined than ever to be out, proud and working for equality. There are so many gay people, along with our straight but not narrow allies, who live here, embrace Rehoboth’s diversity and know we are all better for it.

 

 

 

14 Comments

  1. It’s unfortunate that in this area we call home that such hateful and ignorant people live to breed their contempt for what they have no desire to understand or tolerate.

  2. I applaud your courage to even listen to such vitrolic poison. It saddens me so much to hear about this kind of hatred.
    Tahnk you for sharing it and reminding us, it ain’t over yet!

  3. Wow, that is super scary, Fay. Please take care of yourselves.

    • Thanks, Mary…..it’s sometimes worth the angst to get a reminder to work harder for the cause.. Of course, Bonnie nis still mad as a wet hen…..
      give our regards to NOLA….

  4. I applaud your willingness to listen to the sorry ramblings of such a bigoted, narrow minded coward. I know I would have taken the shorter route of hanging up mid-commentary.

    It is so sad that this invidual has not, nor ever will, take the time to appreciate diversity in any form.

  5. Not that I want to officially “thank” this caller, but it certainly pisses all of us to the point where we be even more vocal, more out, and even more proud that we are not part of this close minded, ignorant group of individuals, Who, my friend, are hardly the majority. Tell him next time to save his quarter.

  6. As horrible as it is, I am glad you listened and responded to him and then shared it with us. As you said it is good to be reminded that we aren’t there yet, threats are still very real and we must not become complacent. It seems that even as some progress is made in terms of equality, it has also become more acceptable to label us as “dangerous and with a homosexual agenda.” (Can someone explain the agenda to me, I didn’t get the memo.) The Loudoun County Va. Boy Scouts just dismissed a lesbian scout leader because “she doesn’t represent the values of the BSA.” She had been with the troop for 6 years.

  7. Did you happen to have the presence of mind to tape any portion of the call? I’m sorry you were the victim of such ignorance and I’m sure it did upset you. Sadly it is one more reason not to answer a “private” caller ID call. Think of the message you would have on your answering machine. . . someone knows this hateful man. Thankfully we know many open and embracing ones who see us not as enemies.

  8. Fay, what a horrible experience. I’m sorry you had to go through it; unfortunately, when the oppressed begin to gain freedom, the oppressors step up the rhetoric. Glad you’re out there writing!

  9. This moron has just pulled the pin from our Diversity Hand Grenade! And we are about to respond with an of explosion of courageous and peaceful activisim that comes from our dedication to bring change about forever!

    He obviously doesn’t understand who he has messed with. Fay, you have done so much for the Community of Humanity here in Rehoboth and how dare this ignorant jerk play his card of intimidation with you! Like one of your other comments said…not that I want to give him any credit for being an ass, but because he has crossed the line and by doing so, he has single-handedly motivated every one of us to prove him wrong! And for that we can all “thank” him…my guess he won’t like it much 🙂

    Don’t stop being You…don’t take any crap….and thank you for being so brave!

    • Thanks, Patti….the number of calls and emails I have gotten in support is totally amazing and makes me want to cry from happiness….but there’s work to be done…so let’s all get out there, make friends and prove this yutz so totally wrong that his head spins….of course, Bonnie wants to spin it for him….

  10. Fay, I’ve retired from work and my national activism. But vigilance is always required, so maybe it’s time to dust off those activist shoes again. I’m so sorry you and Bonnie had to go through this. There is complacency in this community that is a little hard for me to take. We’re isolated in a “tolerant” bubble here–but Sussex Co. is very much the South. I, too, have been disturbed by the not-so-subtle “family oriented” path Rehoboth has taken (witness the recent “poll” in the Cape Gazette). Anyway, I am a CAMP member and I’ve always been in favor of pro-activism. Let me know what part I can play.

    • Thanks, Sharon…I think the best we can do is be out and proud and friendly and keep putting one foot in front of the other…Thanks for your note. See you soon!
      Fay


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  1. […] you must read this blog post from my friend and favorite author,  Fay Jacobs of Rehoboth Beach.  It is frightening to me that […]

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