Date: 7/22/20 10:53 pm
From: Hendrik Herlyn <hhactitis...>
Subject: [obol] Re: No we can't let that one go unaddressed

I really didn't want to get involved in this discussion, but your remarks
about how gay birders are received in the Oregon birding community calls
for a response.

Who are these straight male birders you bird with who make such homophobic
quips? I have been "out" as a gay man in the Oregon birding community for
almost 30 years, and many folks on OBOL and elsewhere are well aware of my
27-year relationship with my husband Oscar. In all our time as a gay
birding couple in Oregon, we have always felt extremely welcome and
accepted. Perhaps my skin is thicker than yours, but I don't recall any
negative or slighting comments from my straight birding companions, whether
uttered inadvertently or on purpose, that would have offended me or made me
feel uncomfortable. In fact, the only time Oscar and I were ever confronted
with an incident that might be labeled "homophobic" (some OBOLites may
remember this; we were handed a religious pamphlet with anti-gay sentiments
after attending a CBC a few years ago), the outpouring of support and
sympathy from the entire Oregon birding community - gay and straight, male
and female - was absolutely overwhelming!

Yes, I am sure we have a long way to go to make members of all minorities
feel more welcome, but at least for the (admittedly rather small) subgroup
of gay white males, I can say that I feel extremely comfortable and
included here in Oregon's birding community. And I firmly believe that the
people I know and call my friends would extend the same warm welcome to any
other members of minority groups who express an interest in joining our
wonderful hobby/pastime/obsession. It saddens me to think that you may have
had a different experience.



On Wed, Jul 22, 2020 at 10:00 PM Matt Cahill <matt.c.cahill...>

> Rich,
> I really believe you think you are justified and not harming anyone with
> what you wrote. But it is so hurtful. Your wish for a colorblind world is
> painful and othering because it overlooks that our world is constantly and
> relentlessly evaluating a person's color. We are constantly and
> relentlessly evaluating a person's color. And by denying it, we are just
> protecting our preferred normal, a normal that countless black people tell
> us is threatening, dehumanizing, and dangerous.
> Of course you didn't choose your race, but if the pursuit of happiness is
> a marathon, you were born at mile 13. If you want life to be a fair event,
> you can't deny where others started from. Losing privilege feels like
> oppression, but is so definitely not.
> As a gay man, I encounter exclusive remarks nearly every time I bird with
> a group of straight men. Small, seemingly inconsequential events invisible
> to others because they have no idea what to look for. It would certainly be
> uncomfortable for me to point them out. So I grit my teeth and carry on.
> And I can pretty much hide my minority status. For people who wear it as
> their skin, I struggle to imagine how often they feel overlooked.
> The conservation organization I work for directly links racial equity with
> protecting the environment, and so do most organizations I work with. We
> cannot avoid these topics and have our special spaces. We cannot pretend
> that birding is somehow removed. That's the whole point. We don't get to
> ignore it anymore, when people are figuratively and literally saying they
> can't breathe.
> Black lives matter.
> Matt Cahill
> Bend

Hendrik G. Herlyn
Corvallis, OR

*"Nature is not a place to visit. It is home." -- Gary Snyder*

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