I missed this profile on William Sleaster (above), the Concord High School student who challenged John McCain on gay rights last week (some of which can be seen in the clip below). Sleaster made headlines when he followed up his questioning by telling McCain, “I came here looking to see a leader. I don’t.”
Sleaster told the Concord Monitor: “It may have been disrespectful, but he discriminates against me and my people. If he walked in there to Tide Pride (the school’s LGBT support group) Monday morning and started dropping sexual slurs, we wouldn’t shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks for coming.’ That’s why I didn’t shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks for coming.’ I regret nothing…Going into it, I was looking to be impressed. I was looking for him to be the leader type,” Sleaster said. “But he didn’t show that at all. He seemed very weak. He didn’t have any good ideas at all.”
Sleaster says that some of his views crystallized after coming out to his classmates last February as bisexual: “It was a good thing to do, to come out like that. Then I knew the whole don’t ask thing, the policy, was very flawed. Pretending your sexuality is something it’s not is very difficult to do. Even liking both sexes, you can’t just pretend you like one. It’s very hard to do.”
He even understands why he was scolded for his strong words to McCain: “I believe (what the teacher did) was proper. They wanted us to shake the candidate’s hand. They wanted to make sure I didn’t make Concord High look bad. I understand why they might have been worried.”
The need for young people like Sleaster is made ever-apparent by the rising Fundie youth in Louisiana.
Contrast Sleaster’s perspective with that of Louisiana State University student wingnut Michael Denton (right), whose school paper yesterday published
an opinion piece a hate piece he wrote called “America needs to stand against homosexuality” which basically spews the talking points of the worst of the right-wing Evangelical bigots:
Writes Denton: “America needs to grow in self-confidence on this debate. The homosexual argument is illogical; sexuality is obviously meant for reproduction. Any sexual activity that is opposed to life is intrinsically disordered. Yet we continue to refuse to stand up for ourselves, allowing courts, school boards and speech codes to dictate political correctness to us. There are few greater debates in America today. The gay marriage issue threatens marriage and the family, which are the very foundations of society. Unless America decides to stand for something in this case, we’ll continue to fall.”
Denton is very concerned about the “homosexual movement”: “They know they can’t win in elections. Despite all of their efforts to convert us, an August 2007 CNN poll still shows 57 percent of Americans opposing gay marriage. So they ignore the democratic process and rush to friendlier courts. To top it all off, they’re using sex education programs to jam their views down the throats of school children. They’re not looking for debate; they’re looking for victory at any cost.”
As much as we think youth is on our side in the gay rights debate (and I still believe it is, as a general trend), bigoted slugs like Denton will still rise from the spawn of the worst kind of Bible Belt bigots. I’m just grateful folks like Sleaster will be around to take ’em down.