I am writing to Supervisors Jones and Baugh regarding the Pride Month Proclamation. I am Brandon Rogers, I grew up in Redding and lived there until 2012. I worked for Shasta County and later the City of Redding for twelve years. I attended Enterprise High School and Shasta College and completed a Bachelor of Science at Humboldt State University. I’m also a Gay person.
I understand that both of you voted against the proclamation, and Supervisor Baugh said that Supervisors shouldn’t get involved with people’s sexuality.
Listen, I understand you’re both conservative Republicans and you probably believe that your constituents expect you to vote against anything that doesn’t fit into your agenda. You might even think that sexuality has no place in governance. This is just partisan baloney. You represent EVERYONE in your district, including the queer ones, am I right?
As a Gay person, growing up in Redding wasn’t easy. I was bullied by my peers in public school, I was treated differently as a public employee of Shasta County and the City of Redding by my coworkers and managers. Don’t get me wrong, I am tough as hell because I am from Redding. I was born Gay, and I am proud of my accomplishments and of who I am. I married my husband, Justin, at the Shasta County Clerk’s office, in 2008. We wore our best suits, invited our closest friends and celebrated right there on Market Street.
I think you understand that Gay people have faced discrimination and hate – and Shasta County is known the world over for the Matson-Mowder murders. In fact, when people ask where I am from – often that’s the first thing they mention. The Williams brothers murdered Gary Matson (who grew up one house over from me on Joaquin Avenue) and Winfield Mowder (who I attended Shasta College with) because they were gay.
I hope that you might take a minute to consider how strong and resilient that Gay, Queer, Transgender, Bisexual and Lesbian people must be in order to live their American Dream. We’re tougher than you realize, and we aren’t going away. The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. All men are created equal. Even the queer ones.
In 2012 we moved to Portland, Oregon because Shasta County can’t compete when it comes to jobs and quality of life. We make more money and have many more opportunities to succeed and thrive here when compared to Shasta County. I had hoped to stay in Redding and contribute to the community, after all Redding is my home town. Your decision on the pride month proclamation underscores the reasons I left. You guys just don’t understand that when everyone in the community is supported – everyone thrives. When leaders like yourselves choose to downplay or ignore minorities in the community – you’re creating an uneven playing field and setting a tone of hate and exclusion. In these circumstances, you’re selectively saying “gays aren’t welcome here”. I don’t accept this form of hate and I never will. Surveys show that younger generations are queerer than ever and that means that there are more queers today than ever before. We’re not going anywhere.