a short autobiography
1995 Press Conference
Phila. Daily News
1999 Speech at the Indiana State Capitol
The Answer is Love
Rhea fights burnout
Tragedy in the Heartlands
A Mother's Tears
A friend's witness
Mrs Murray goes to Washington
Nov. 1996 letter for the Chrysler Campaign
to PFLAG-Talk from Dixie Beer
Well, my friend Rhea told me that it was about time for me to delurk,
guess I'll take the plunge. My name is Dixie Beer and I'm the vice-president
of the Seymour, Indiana PFLAG chapter. I do not have a gay child or family
member; I'm just a friend.
I have always had gay friends- literally from kindergarten on (of course,
didn't know the word at that age). Having grown up in a big city (even
conservative city like Cincinnati), sexual orientation, religion and
were no big things to me; certainly nothing to get worked up about.
I did go to college in a small town in Indiana during the late 60's and
but I guess we were too isolated by the campus environment to get much
of a notion of what the town's beliefs and attitudes were really like.
relocated to Seymour almost ten years ago when I was in my early thirties-
WHAT A CULTURE SHOCK! Suddenly I was living in a place with no tolerance
for diversity; where it was assumed that everyone in the town of any worth
was white, Christian (leaning toward fundamentalism) and straight. The
attitudes were hard for me to figure out. The hostility shown to the Japanese
who were moving into town after having built factories that literally rescued
Seymour's economy was very hard for me to understand. This was probably
the first real indication I had of the attitudes of the area in which I
I met Rhea when we were both going to a mainline protestant church here
and became friends. I had become disillusioned with my church once before,
in high school, when the minister of the church walked out when a black
family came in. For years, I either didn't go to church or went to a Reformed
Synagogue. Moving to Seymour when my daughter was 4 years old, and with
no synagogue within an hour or so of driving time, I decided to give the
my childhood denomination one more try. I guess I felt that she should
have some religious upbringing. I not only went to the church, but literally
threw myself into the church- serving as Sunday school teacher, deacon,
chair of the worship committee, chair of the Christian Education
committee, and so forth.
While I was a church leader the church called a new pastor. Shortly
he came, he brought to the session a statement called "Witness for
Biblical Morality" that he wanted all the session members to sign.
this statement was a thinly veiled, in fuzzy-sounding words, statement
gays were not welcome in the renewed church. I refused to sign and
told the other leaders that I was appalled at their willingness to
a document. One other leader also refused to sign.
The next few meetings were like a nightmare. We had the Bible thumped
at us, were told we were going to rot in hell and I was called the anti-Christ
by a church leader who was ranting and raving. Even then, I kept thinking
that if I stayed in the church maybe I could help change things from within
and besides, I didn't want to let them drive me out of my church. Not long
after that was when the minister started going around to church families
basically outing Rhea's then 14 year old son. When he tried doing it to
me, I told him he was being inappropriate and that I was going to have
to tell Rhea and her family what was going on.
To make a long story short, I did and for a while he was going back
forth between us "trying to make amends" he said, but "trying to save
job" is what it really was; because when he realized his job was safe,
concern stopped to the point of shunning us. I tried to stay with the
for a while longer to see if I could change things, but eventually
I both decided that it wasn't good for us spiritually to stay.
Our minister's outing of Rhea's son made things intensify for him at
and in the community. Students felt even more justified in harassing
because they had their parent's word that the minister had told them
was gay. Bruce endured being spat upon, death threats and harassment
from both students and teachers to the point where Rhea had to withdraw
him from school and teach him herself. I had major problems dealing with
the reality that this kind of thing was happening in my community and,
likelihood, was happening in many other communities as well. Worst
of all, I thought, was that Rhea and her family had to drive over an hour
to get to
any community with PFLAG to get any support for themselves as parents
or for her son.
So, when Rhea started to talk about the possibility of starting a PFLAG
Seymour, I urged her to do it and told her that I would help. It seemed
me that she and her family couldn't possibly be the only ones in this
that needed something like this, and truth be told, I needed something
this too. With my views, I didn't fit in with this community too well
either, and needed something I could work with. I'm sure I was a big
pain in the butt, ( wasn't I, Rhea? ) whenever Rhea would get discouraged
at the small numbers at the first meetings and all the work, and I would
urging her on and not to stop. But I think we have seen that there
is a need in our small community and that our group is bonding tightly
Seymour PFLAG has been in existence for exactly one year this week and
I hope that it will only become bigger and better. I feel that it has been
somewhat of a growing process for me as I become more and more active.
I am now our chapter's newsletter editor too; we just sent out our first
I feel that it has been one of the best things for my daughter, who
straight but different from most of the kids in her school (brainy
AND liberal) - she has found an acceptance that has allowed her confidence
to bloom. I feel that it has been a good experience for our whole family,
even if my husband doesn't attend many meetings (and is somewhat threatened
by my new energies). I know that my friendship with Rhea has blossomed
and hit new levels as we work on this together and I am more and more determined
to do what I can to end hate and prejudice based on ignorance and fear.
I have developed many friendships through our meetings and look forward
to many more in the future. And, for the last several weeks I have been
lurking on pflag-talk and now, delurking. I'm glad to have found PFLAG
and now pflag-talk.
Many candles can be kindled from one candle without diminishing it.
Copyright, 1996 by Dixie Beer.