Coming out stronger: An introduction to this special report
Last year, the raucous national debate over gay marriage caught up with the largely low-key Fargo-Moorhead gay and lesbian community. North Dakota proponents of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions echoed arguments that reverberated ...
Last year, the raucous national debate over gay marriage caught up with the largely low-key Fargo-Moorhead gay and lesbian community.
North Dakota proponents of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions echoed arguments that reverberated across the country: Allowing gay marriage would erode the fabric of a time-tested social institution and create a less-than-perfect environment for raising children.
Those arguments resonated with 73 percent of state voters on Nov. 2.
Most in the area gay community lamented the outcome in private. But for some, the vote - and more recently, a bid to work a gay marriage ban into the Minnesota Constitution - highlighted the need for more openness about homosexuality.
Instead of genuine acceptance, gays contended, many area residents were offering a don't-ask-don't-tell breed of tolerance. And opponents of the amendment questioned if the gay community's low profile - a third of gays in a recent area survey said they were out both personally and professionally - might be stunting its bid for acceptance.
During the past three months, The Forum spent more than 50 hourswith two gay men and a lesbian couple who represent some of the gay community's drive to win over the minds of area residents. They shared their stories of fearfully coming out of the closet and overcoming their unease about public visibility, hoping to coax their community to revisit stereotypes about homosexuality.
In the first of three profiles, today we tell the story of Fargo's first openly gay cop who's also a prominent area decision-maker - a role model in the gay community who stayed in the closet into his late 30s.
Tomorrow, we introduce readers to a lesbian who last fall fought North Dakota's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage while navigating her relationship with a strong-willed daughter; and to the organizer of North Dakota State University's first gay prom who's working on making the campus gay community more visible.