Letter: My side of the story — Barrington’s gay-bashing tactics

EastBayRI.com ·

To the editor:

On June 12, because I’m gay, I experienced a level of bigotry that I had not endured in over 50 years. I had almost forgotten it existed. Not since my elementary school days when bullies would beat me up, spit on me and call me a “faggot,” have I had to deal with such an overwhelming barrage of pure hate and bold lies that continues to this moment.

At the Barrington Town Clerk’s Office I was insulted, humiliated and denied what is legally mine by a local government office that is hateful of the LGBT community, willing to break the law to abuse us, and comfortable lying about it later.

On June 12, what Town Manager Jim Cunha doesn’t mention, is that I was at the Town Hall twice that morning and they knew I was returning. The town hall cameras recorded that. If they wanted to arrest me they had plenty of opportunity to do it, but did nothing.

One woman in the office said to me, her voice thick with contempt, “I know who you are and I read your (yoga pants) letter.”

Obviously she’s still marching in that vicious parade from a year ago, eager to do anything to get the yoga pants guy.

Jim Cunha did not witness the events and unfortunately has been fed a bucket of lies that just don’t hold water. His public comments have locked him into those lies and will ultimately bring embarrassment to him and to the entire town.

The town’s actions are being investigated by the R.I. Commission For Human Rights. Their work is not “frivolous,” as Jim Cunha pompously bellows. They’re not idiots and I’m not some silly, frivolous queen either. The investigators can smell a rat a mile away. Jim better watch out, because everything he says stinks to the high heavens.

On June 12, computer records show that the Barrington Town Clerk’s Office gave me the marriage worksheet which is required by law in R.I. in order to obtain a marriage license. The worksheet was illegally gender specific. On the left, was the heading “Groom,” and on

the right was the heading “Bride,” something outlawed many years ago with the passage of marriage equality. I said that there is no woman in this marriage, so there is not a bride. I was told that was the official form and that I had to identify myself as a woman to get married.

I complained about the form because of its insulting, bigoted content and was again treated very rudely. It reminded me of ignorant, hurtful comments directed toward gay couples like, “Which one of you is the woman? There has to be a woman, right?” Cruel, hateful, I could not believe what I was hearing. I refused to fill out that form identifying myself as a woman.

On June 12, after refusing to fill out that bigoted form, I was told, “Then you won’t be getting married.”

I was humiliated and deeply saddened on what should have been the happiest day of my life. I left in shock, went home, called the Governor’s office. A half-hour later, I received a call from an official in the Health Department’s Office of Vital Records, of which there are phone records and voice messages so this actually happened, this is fact, not just someone's side of the story.

I was told by the vital records office that the Barrington Town Clerk had never updated the worksheet as they were notified to do years ago when marriage equality became law. Apparently they don’t want any of that stuff happening in their town, so the update was never downloaded. The state official ordered the town to update the worksheet immediately and said that one would be waiting for me at the clerk's office right away.

This exposes as totally false Jim Cunha's statement that the town clerk noticed the problem and quickly worked to solve it. Records show the town remained bigoted and hateful until ordered by the state to obey the law and update the worksheet. I am the one who worked to solve the problem, not the clerk’s office. That is a bold face lie.

On June 12, every gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual man, woman, and child in Barrington attained the freedom and human rights that are guaranteed them under the Constitution. Never again will anyone be told that they must deny who they are in order to be married in Barrington, which in a fundamental human right. Bigotry, lies, and hate will not prevail, but the truth will.

Barrington is a great town. The town manager and town clerk sully its reputation, undermine its spirit as a community, and destroy any welcoming sense of diversity that tries to exist here. They create a toxic environment of bigotry and hate unfit to raise our children in.

Sadly, Barrington is notorious in the gay community for being a very unfriendly, gay-bashing town. This is devastating to the children in Barrington who struggle with their developing identities and may contribute to the high instance of underage drinking and bullying among our youth. This has to change. We can change it.

By the way, I like the way Jim Cunha is all upset about the way I rock the boat in Barrington. What an endorsement! I think I'll run for town council. Rock The Boat, Vote for Me.

Alan Sorrentino