November 16, 2020
Dear Mayor Inman and Macomb City Council
When an anti-LGBTQ hate group marched with a republican judge’s group in last year’s WIU homecoming parade, Macomb’s city leaders were silent.
Last year, an anti-LGBTQ church offered to partner with the city for an “all town day of service.” Our LGBTQ community saw photo ops and a statement from our Mayor welcoming the partnership, despite how it made many members of the LGBTQ community feel. The optics of our local government partnering with a church whose dogma, website, and leaders have openly expressed hateful views towards our marginalized community sends a message about who you choose to represent and whom you choose to render invisible.
The Democratic Women of McDonough County marched the first pride flag across all parades in the county we could attend in 2019. We were met with some positive responses, but also many negative ones, including rude language, gestures, and other signs of defensiveness which are the hallmarks of ignorance and hate.
We held the first ever PrideFest in Chandler Park in April, 2019 with almost 500 attendees from all over the county and region. Several clergy attended in disguise lest their hateful church members retaliate against their jobs for supporting the marginalized members of their flock. What kind of community causes clergy to disguise themselves before supporting LGBTQ+ members who do not feel safe nor welcome living openly as themselves?
Macomb, it’s a disgrace to have LGBTQ+ community members who are married yet cannot express their love and affection freely due to ongoing targeting of them for slurs, disgusting gestures, complaints, threats, & violence.
Microaggressions and displays of toxic masculinity (expressed as homophobia and transphobia) are on the rise. Every act degrades feelings of safety and belonging. These unaddressed cause us to lose far too many members of our vibrant LGBTQ+ community. They move away for safer, kinder, more welcoming communities which challenge incidents of hate and intolerance to set higher expectations.
This past weekend, several LGBTQ+ families were targeted in their homes for hate incidents which we hope to be investigated as possible hate crimes. The perpetrator was allegedly caught. The issue before us is our culture here which signals to those with ignorance, fear, and hate in their hearts to believe they can target our LGBTQ+ community with little to no consequence.
Please speak up in your reports for our LGBTQ+ community. Your visible allyship helps prevent future hate incidents. Visible, vocal expressions of concern and support for our LGBTQ+ community are urgently needed.
Heather McMeekan, President
Democratic Women of McDonough County