Dear Tom

White power/Nazi salute at a rally in West Allis, Wisconsin.  Photo by Callen Harty.

White power/Nazi salute at a rally in West Allis, Wisconsin. Photo by Callen Harty.

Dear Tom,

I finally unfriended you on Facebook. I’m sorry, but I simply do not want to be friends with someone like you any more.

You know I tried. When I would post items that promoted my political point-of-view you would often comment on them, generally acting as if anyone who didn’t agree with you was an idiot. I would do my best to counter with logic and reason, and perhaps a plea to your innate humanity, but you never seemed to hear it (while in fact accusing others of not listening to you). My fear now is that your innate humanity has disappeared.

My entire life I have had friends whose political views differ from mine and we’ve generally been able to disagree amicably. In fact, I’ve always said that being liberal means being open-minded to other viewpoints, so I’ve always tried to listen respectfully, put myself in the other person’s shoes, and when we still differ to present my views in a respectful manner. I don’t mind disagreements with people I respect.

But I simply cannot respect you when you share posts that are anti-Muslim with your own added comments that all Muslims should be shot. I cannot respect that you believe every spin of the conservative media (any more than I can respect lefties who believe every spin of the liberal media). I cannot respect you when you constantly post borderline racist articles, even though you claim not to be racist and even have a black friend who agrees with many of your beliefs. I cannot respect you when you call all gay people vile and sick, particularly when you know that I am gay (and as you’re espousing your anti-gay views probably tell others that you’re not homophobic because you have a gay friend from your hometown).

I am saddened by this. We grew up together. You were the little brother of one of my classmates. We both went to Catholic school and church. I haven’t been a Catholic, or even a Christian, for years. Yet I still hold onto the ethics I learned from the church. I still believe “thou shalt not kill.” I still believe that we should love all our brothers and sisters on this planet. I still believe in treating others as we wish to be treated. How did you move so far from those basic moral tenets?

I know that if your neighbors needed help you would be there for them. I know that you are a good husband and father and grandfather. I know that you care about your country, or at least your perceptions of what your country should be. But I don’t believe you are a good citizen. I don’t believe that hatred is the true path of any political party or religion.

You claim to be a Christian. You need to start living it. You need to examine why you hate so many people when your Christ was all about love. You need to look critically at your belief systems and determine why so much of what you believe is based on the negative. It is based on what you don’t like, rather than what you stand for, and I believe it has led you into a morass of political mud.

I don’t expect my friends to agree with everything I believe. But I also don’t keep friends who are hateful people. I don’t need that in my life. I hope that you continue to grow as a man. I hope that someday, somehow, something causes you to look deeply into your soul and that you examine where the hatred is coming from and what you can do to move toward love. In the meantime I will do my best to live my life in a positive, loving way without waking up to one of your screeds about the evils of Islam or murderous blacks or the homosexuals. I wish you more peace than you wish upon others.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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1 Response to Dear Tom

  1. Terri Doyle says:

    I think I know who it is. I think he had such a hard childhood, really hard that he rages at the softness of compassionate people because he can’t psychologically rage at the authority figures that did him in.

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