Many of us here at Velvetpark have been following the story of Clint McCance, the Arkansas school board member who recently took to Facebook to air his enlightened views about gay people:
Charming. Folks might know that McCance has since resigned his elected position on the Midland School Board, but not many know that this whole thing might have gone unnoticed and unremarked upon had it not been for the efforts of a former schoolmate of McCance's who blew the whistle on him. Outraged when he learned of then school board Vice President McCance's anti-gay Facebook rant, Anthony Turner decided to do something about it, taking a public stand against the bullying of gay teens.
After spending much of last week engaging in some good ol' fashioned gay rights grassroots activism, including appearing on Anderson Cooper's AC360°, Mr. Turner was nice enough to speak with Velvetpark to share his story with our readers.
Anthony, I understand that you went to high school with Clint McCance. When did you first notice his anti-gay comments on Facebook and how did you initially react when you read them?
I did go to high school with Mr. McCance. He graduated a year before me. We weren’t close or anything, but in a small community like Pleasant Plains, AR, and in a small school like Midland, everybody knows everybody.
I learned of Mr. McCance’s Facebook comments from friends in the community who were Facebook friends with both me and him. My initial reaction was one of disgust and dismay. I was stunned that someone elected to govern the operations of a school district—my school district, no less—would say these things. For him to react to a call to wear purple to commemorate the lives of seven gay youth who have recently, tragically, committed suicide [due to anti-gay bullying] by saying the only way he was going to wear purple was if all gay kids—well, all human beings who are gay really—were to kill themselves, is unimaginable. His comments, from start to finish, are a perfect illustration of the hate and hatefulness that causes kids to kill themselves.
Who did you contact to report the fact that a school official from your hometown had behaved so inappropriately and irresponsibly in a public forum? What kind of initial response did you get from those channels?
After reading the comments, I mulled them over for a while and decided I had to take action. Gay kids and kids who are believed to be gay are often constantly told by those around them that there is something wrong with them, that they should be ashamed of who they are, and that they are somehow not as valuable as straight kids. The negative impact of these messages—which are NOT true, by the way!—is devastating to them emotionally and often physically.