From the story:
Support for and opposition to the proclamation were fairly even and the public comment portion of the agenda item lasted for three hours — the entire time allotted.
The entire process was an exercise in representative government, with both sides — and those in between — given their chance to speak their minds.
One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights.
Some of those who opposed the proclamation claimed that members of the GLBT community would use it to infiltrate the public school system, essentially allowing the “gay lifestyle” to become a part of the curriculum.
Others claimed that council recognizing October as GLBT History Month was a waste of their time. Some members of the audience even suggested that any council members voting in favor of the proclamation may have trouble getting reelected.
Numerous residents also claimed the Bible was their guiding light, citing the ancient text as their primary reason for opposing the proclamation and the GLBT community in general.
And for those in attendance, it was hard to ignore the intolerant grumblings, the exasperated sighs and cold, hard stares that followed comments from supporters of the GLBT proclamation.
Nikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister, said her brother likely took all of the negative things said about members of the GLBT community straight to heart.
“When he was sitting there, I’m sure he was internalizing everything and analyzing everything … that’s the kind of person he was,” she said. “I’m sure he took it personally. Everything that was said.”
Zach Harrington, who graduated from Norman North High School in 2009, had been struggling with acceptance for years. Despite being a talented musician “who could play any instrument he picked up,” Van Harrington said his son asked to leave school early during his senior year and finish his diploma in a separate program.
“He feared for his safety on many occasions at (Norman North), and other people like him,” Van said. “Even though he was 6-4, he was passive and I’m sure being gay in that environment didn’t help.”
Nikki Harrington, who is eight years older than her brother and also attended Norman North, said she recalls the way members of the GLBT community were treated during her time there.
“There was one gay guy in my high school at the time, and he was made fun of all the time,” she said. “It was a pretty much non-stop thing at school.”
From the Dallas Voice:
The father of Zack Harrington, the gay teen who took his own life after listening to homophobic comments at a Norman, Okla. city council meeting last year, says his family plans to plan a tree in his memory at a city park.
Zack Harrington’s death served as the inspiration for gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns’ “It Gets Better” speech.
Zack’s father, Van Harrington, said the family plans to plant the Oklahoma White Bud on April 29, which would have been Zack’s 20th birthday.