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The “I was told yesterday that some of the gay members of the Conch Duplicate Bridge Club in Key West think I’m homophobic” post yesterday , 11 March 2013, at goodmorningkeywest.com, was expanded after it went up. What follows is what went up yesterday, followed by the expansion. It moves from external to internal.
I’m finding my way with this post, after having dreamt all night about it, following being told yesterday by a good friend that, if I wish to have any chance of being allowed to play bridge again with the Conch Duplicate Bridge Club in Key West, which is owned by Jeff Overby, of Key West, and the Director for which is Pat Miller of Cudjoe Key, I will have to apologize for what I wrote maybe five years ago, which, my friend told me yesterday, caused Jeff and Pat, who are gay, to think I was homophobic.
That was the first I’d heard of that. All along, I had thought the reason they kicked me out of the bridge club forever was because I had beaten Jeff Overby black and blue in a post about the State Attorney’s race. At that time, Jeff was a prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office, and he also was a Key West City Special Code Enforcement Magistrate, and I think he had a mediation practice, and State Attorney candidate Dennis Ward, whom I was supporting, was beating Jeff up about all of that, and saying he was going to get rid of Jeff, and I chimed in, in agreement.
What had led up to that, however, had nothing to with the State Attorney’s race. I sometimes was too rough with my bridge partners, and Pat Miller had warned me a few times to stop being that way. Then, I was rough with another bridge partner, a woman I really liked, and she told Pat about it, and he talked with Jeff Overby about it, and Pat told me I was suspended from the bridge club for a month. I told Pat that I had no problem with that, it was fair, and I wrote a post about that the day after I had beaten Jeff Overby up in the post about the State Attorney’s race.
I knew the post I wrote about Jeff would get me kicked out of the club permanently. It was given to me to write, and I wrote it. I told my friend yesterday that I wished I had not written it, and had wished that all along. I said I wished I had never even gotten involved in that State Attorney’s race. But it had happened, and that could not be changed. I said there are gay members in the bridge club who do not think I am homophobic, and I named one, with whom my friend had only just talked about me. I said, I once had had a gay girlfriend, and my bother had been bisexual, and it never bothered me. I did not say I had quite a few gay friends in Key West, had been a member of the Key West Business Guild, which was founded by gays, and had had quite a few gay friends in Birmingham, and had persuaded several gay men to attend an eclectic Sunday school class I was attending in a Southern Baptist church. How I persuaded them was I seemed to have convinced them that St. Paul was gay, and that didn’t seem to bother either God or Jesus.
My friend said, the gay fellow in the bridge club, whom I had named, had said he felt I had been punished long enough. And, several women in the club had also said that, including the woman I had been too rough on. My friend was with her, and put her on his cell phone, and she told me she would like to see me playing there again, with her. I said I missed seeing her and playing at the club, there were a lot of people I really liked there, but I didn’t see Jeff Overby or Pat Miller letting me play there again.
I was not surprised this came up yesterday. Maybe a month ago now, the club’s best woman player had passed away after a lingering battle with cancer. Edy had taught me a lot about bridge; I had really liked her. She was gay. Her gay partner for many years did not seem to like me. Neither of them seemed to like my sense of humor, which Edy said reminded me of her father’s sense of humor. Edy originally was from Montgomery, Alabama, said it seemed to be a thing some southern men did.
On learning from my friend, who wants me to make amends, of Edy’s ashes being scattered on White Street Pier, I drove down to Key West for it. Most of the people there, maybe 15, were from the bridge club. Pat Miller was there. My friend who wants me to make amends was there. The gay man in the club, who likes me and wants to see me playing in the club again, was there. He and I always got along, I’m quite fond of him. He asked me if I would play again this year in the Waterfront Play House bridge fund raiser at the Key West Yacht Club? I said, sure, send me a reminder. I said hi to Pat Miller, shook his hand. My friend who had told me about the wake, started crying. I went over and hugged him. He said maybe he shouldn’t cry. I said crying was good, he loved Edy. I spoke with other people there I knew and love. Edy’s ashes were scattered downwind, into the sea. I said, “Vaja con Dios, Edy. Go in peace.” Then, I left, wondering what was coming down?
I had no clue my being homophobic was coming down. However, I had written, I don’t recall now if it was in the second post, or in a subsequent letter, that the people who had decided I could not play in the club ever again, Jeff, Pat, and Edy, I was told it was them, were gay.
My friend who wants me to make amends probably won’t understand this response to his sincere attempt to get me to try to get myself reinstated in the bridge club. Certainly, I would like to play there again. Certainly, I wish none of it had ever happened. But it’s out of my hands.
After finishing the above, I went to my email account and found this from Nashville J:
That is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. While I do not know you personally, I do know that that there has been nothing from any of your posts in the last couple years that would indicate that you do not like gays. In fact, just from reading, I would say that you are gay friendly, don’t really care whether someone is gay or not and see people as people.
This email from my friend who wants me to try to be allowed to start playing at the Conch Bridge Club again:
If you ever want to get back in, you’ll have to stop mentioning the club, Pat or Jeff on your posts. Those are your private personal matters and shouldn’t be put in an online posting.
I thought to myself, that I put all manner of personal matters in online postings.
After reading the above, Nashvill J wrote to me:
I guess all I can say is that I don’t remember anyone other than you mentioning or standing up for the young boy, who was expected to be gay and bullied, and went home and shot himself a few months ago. Other than what you posted there was very little coverage and to my knowledge there has been no final report on it – no investigation and interviewing of all the kids who knew what happened. You never belittled the young man, you never judged him, you only asked how and why the School would allow a young boy to be bullied because he was supposedly gay. I don’t remember any gays coming out and protesting or saying a word about his death.
They can place any lable on anyone and often do, whether it is correct or not. All I can say is IF you are homophobic, then the gay people should hope and pray for more homophobics just like you.
I wrote back:
Morning, J -
Thanks, however …
Carol King, mother of a gay Key West High School gay boy, who was chronically bullied at that school for being gay, wrote a piercing letter to the editor, which The Key West Citizen published, in which she told the school district that she had warned them something like Matthew Gilleran’s suicide was going to happen, if they didn’t deal with what was going on in that school.
The Key West Business Guild, which started out as a gay organization., and then attracted some straight members, including me, when I lived in Key West, wrote a pretty strong letter to the school district about Matthew Gilleran’s death. I later heard the school district was going to be talking with the Guild about bullying of gays generally, but no sense of an actual and thorough investigation into events at KWHS leading up to young Matthew leaving school one Friday and going home and posting a farewell for good to his Facebook friends, and then shooting himself in the head with what I gather was a .22 caliber pistol owned by his father.
That, incredibly, led to school board member Robin Smith-Martin publicly saying that the cause of Matthew’s death was guns in the home.
There’s been heaps of attention focused on the school district in the wake of the recent state audit report on the district, and that is important and needs serious attention – my way is for the state to take over the district altogether. However, that does not deal with what happened to Carol King’s son at KWHS, and then to Matthew Gilleran, the accumulated karma for which is HUGE and will play out in all sorts of ways nobody will connect back to King’s son and Mathew Gilleran.
Ignoring wakeup calls of that magnitude increases the karma.
Also, while out for a walk after responding to you, I recalled writing in one or two posts following Matthew Gilleran’s suicide, that the gay community should lay back and let the straight community lean on the school district about doing a thorough investigation into the events at KWHS leading up to that terrible Friday. I likened that approach to when prominent American Jews went to Albert Einstein in the latter 1930s, to persuade him to lobby the US Government re what was Germany was doing to its Jews, and Einstein’s response was, that cause needed to be carried by non-Jews.
J wrote back:
Well, obviously, I do not live there and do not know all the news and do not get the newspapers, so , not aware of the letters to the Editors. Regardless, no one seems to be doing anything about it in the schools.
Have a good day!