bigSitting in a packed newsroom, I often hear things going on around me. I didn’t think much of it when I was hearing talk of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia group losing a lot of funding. I didn’t know any details, and thought to myself, “Shame. But, that happens.”

Then I read the article. And then I got angry.

The group had somewhere between $60,000 to $80,000 in local grants taken away, and the Raleigh County office recently shut down due to them being unable to make up that money.

Why did they lose that money? Nobody can say for sure, but here’s what we know: the organization had recently received a $20,000 grant to assist with training staff members in LGBTQ issues.

From the original article, Sara McDowell, the local group’s executive director said about the grant:

“I said, ‘Yes, we would be interested,’ especially considering that, earlier this year, UCLA came out with a study that found West Virginia has the highest number of teens who identify themselves as transgendered,” McDowell said.

What happened shortly after that grant was announced? From McDowell: “[W]e were notified that a representative for several donors wanted to discuss issues we had been previously unaware of.”

She declined to announce who was rescinding their donations, but did note: “I don’t think the timing is coincidental,” McDowell said. “It is my opinion that the LGBTQ program was not going to be welcomed by the representative for those donors. That’s based on my experience with the donor representative and the conversations I’ve had with others.”

So, basically, what we have here is a situation where this group received money that would help them better meet the needs of LGBTQ kids in their care. After hearing that, some people got upset and pulled their funding.

There is one word for that: reprehensible. Well, there are a lot of other words I could use, but those may not be fit for print.

To the people who heard that their money was going to an organization that wants to help LGBTQ kids and decided to pull their funding: you are more disgusting than you could ever imagine homosexuality to be. You are what’s wrong with the world; not a boy who likes kissing another boy.

People like you are the reason that LGBTQ kids need this extra help and assistance. They feel ostracized in their community because of people stuck in some antiquated “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” way of living.

Because of your actions, if some of these LGBTQ kids do not get the assistance, help, or compassion that they need, I hope you’re ready for any consequences. If one of those kids doesn’t know what to do anymore and grabs a bottle of pills, ties a rope around their neck, or cocks a gun, I hope you know that the blood is on your hands.

This whole situation is disgusting, and I hope the names of those who took away their donations becomes public. Those are the people who need to be shamed and ostracized, not some innocent kids who are trying to discover who they are.

The introduction: What is 30-Something?

img_0729

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m the writer for “30-Something,” the newest blog for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. A little about me: I’ve been a lifelong resident of West Virginia for roughly 30 of my 31 years. I spent 15 months working at a newspaper in Luray, Virginia from late 2015 to early 2017. (If you’re wondering, Virginia and West Virginia are essentially the same, with the main exception being that Virginia has an obsession with the Civil War… which is weird, because… you know… they were on the wrong side.)

I’ve been a writer all of my life. The first time I realized that words could be powerful was in the third grade. Mrs. Beverly gave the class a simple assignment: write the funniest story, and our laughter would judge the winner. I crafted a tale about a time I fell down a hill and got the loudest reaction. After that, I was hooked.

Two things stick out from the night I went to Ravenswood High School in 2000 for a tour and to pick out ninth grade classes: for the first time ever I saw a little person, and I also signed up for my first journalism class. The next year, tenth grade in Princeton High School, was when I fell in love with journalism and realized it was what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Life isn’t always a fairy tale; things don’t always go the way you would prefer. I spent way too much of my 20s wasting my potential, being a manager at Pizza Hut and waiting tables at Outback Steakhouse. But, I eventually woke up and went out to make something of myself. That’s still a work in progress.

My journey has taken me to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, where I’ve been a copy editor since March, checking grammar and designing pages. I always want to be the best at everything I can do. I want to contribute to the team and “maximize my minutes,” to throw out a sports cliché. In fact, it’s the main reason I left my last job in Luray; I kept asking if I could help out and do more, and kept getting told no.

I started writing some op-eds for the Gazette opinion page. Mostly about politics. And I started reading the opinion section closely. I noticed a trend here in my newsroom that also seemed to extend nationwide: the editorial voice of the newspaper wasn’t talking to me. It wasn’t talking to a 31-year-old man, and it surely wasn’t talking to anybody younger.

Now, don’t get me wrong: people of all ages need to pick up the Gazette-Mail, as well as any other local or national paper. The news is all-ages friendly; you definitely need to be reading that. But, young people in the area didn’t have a specific home for just their issues and concerns. And, that got me thinking. And, plotting. And, starting a blog.

That’s the goal behind 30-Something. This is the home for all issues that Young America cares about. In the forthcoming posts, we’re going to be talking about life, love, sex, relationships, careers, LGBT rights, women’s issues (#metoo), money, social media, body image, style, politics, drugs, mental health and more.

Join me here, once a week, as we take a look at all of those issues. I encourage reader participation, either here in the comments, on Facebook or over at Twitter, or send me an email (chris.slater@wvgazettemail.com).