David Bromstad Slammed by Gays
I normally wouldn't post something like this, but I've been reading a lot about boycotts, the Salvation Army, and the Barilla Pasta debacle. It seems that nowadays we're so sensitive to anything anyone says we tend to jump onto a bandwagon and it's off to the witch hunt. And the one thing we never take into consideration is that maybe if we listened without reacting too soon we might be able to educate people more about what it's like to be gay, and what being gay is really all about. There are many misconceptions out there about gay people, and I often worry these radical boycotts and public outbursts are not helping the way LGBT people are perceived.
I know for a fact, after reading a great deal about the Barilla Pasta issue, that Guido Barilla made a public statement that basically said he didn't know anything about gays or the way the family unit is changing around the world. This is most likely cultural, and it is a reflection on his upbringing and where is lives right now. He's offered to sit down and discuss this issue. And if someone is willing to sit down and discuss any issue with civility, I personally think he or she should be given the benefit of the doubt. If and when that doesn't work, then maybe a boycott is the thing to do. But right now, from facts I've read about the Barilla Pasta issue, I'm getting a few mixed signals from both sides. And, as a side note, I don't even eat carbs.
With the David Bromstad issue, I also think it's a little too soon to judge him or what he's doing. Bromstad accepted the job as host of a Salvation Army event that will be held in Wilton Manors this fall. This has started a shitstorm all over, even here in New Hope with a few loud voices in the local LGBT community who I would rather not have represent me. David Bromstad obviously has a high profile, in both the gay community and the mainstream design world. Wouldn't it be counterproductive for him to do something anti-gay that would not only hurt him as a gay man, but also his career? And I hate to go there again, but there are far more celebrities in Hollywood and politicians in Washington that are not openly gay and doing far more serious things to hurt the LGBT community by remaining in the closet and promoting the shame that goes along with being gay. Openly gay David Bromstad simply wants to extend a proverbial olive branch, and he's not even a political figure.
This is what Bromstad wrote on facebook:
I've read your feedback on my participation with The Salvation Army USA, as an openly gay person whom just happens to also be a celebrity, I took the Salvation Army's request to participate in their fundraiser as one step in the right direction towards equality. If we simply separate ourselves from those that we assume appose us or our beliefs then we will never make strides in the right direction. I applaud the Salvation Army's symbolic handshake towards acceptance and would be foolish to not extend my hand in acceptance.
I've done a little research on this issue myself, even before I read about Bromstad doing the SA event, and from all the information I could gather many in the SA are trying to fix a good deal of miscommunication that had resulted from poor Internet interpretations, and overzealous radicals who act and comment before they know facts. At the end of this article from Snopes, the SA even issues an apology to the LGBT community for miscommunication.
I am by no means defending the SA, or Guido Barilla for that matter. But I do think David Bromstad makes a logical point when asking for tolerance from everyone, including those in the LGBT community. The fact remains that many in the straight community, from the US to Italy, do not fully understand what being LGBT is all about, and unfortunately what they get from the mainstream media and the Internet is an isolated example that focuses many times on those within the LGBT community who represent us with the least amount of tolerance. They also don't represent all of us because we're a highly diverse community. This lack of knowledge and understanding leads to even more miscommunication. And when you're asking for tolerance, I think it's equally important to be willing to offer the same brand of tolerance...as Bromstad is doing by offering his handshake in return.
If you do a simple search for the SA, you won't be too impressed with what you find with regard to their previous stands on anything LGBT related. A good deal of this is not true, but some of it is. However, this David Bromstad issue seems to be the beginning of a new era for the SA and I think we should at least be willing to listen, without slamming David Bromstad for trying to make things a little better in the world...or for trying the change the world in a positive way. For those who haven't read anything on the topic, this is the latest piece of information I could find about the SA and gays. From the Miami Herald:
The Salvation Army says it is actively seeking to mend fences with the LGBT community. Each year before Christmas, gay activists take to the Internet and ask that people not put money in the Army's ubiquitous red kettles.
"The idea that we are homophobic and anti-gay is just not true," said Ron Busroe, the Virginia-based church's national secretary for community relations and development.
"We don’t discriminate in delivery of services and we don’t discrimination in hiring," said Busroe, who from 1988-94 was area commander for Salvation Army of Broward County.
One touchy point: Salvation Army offers domestic partner benefits only where required by law.
I have no idea where this will lead, however, if there is a chance that what David Bromstad is doing might help relations between the Salvation Army and the LGBT community I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt, too, before we slam him.