Editorial: Respond to hate — never ignore it

Posted 6/13/23

Around this time last year, The Portsmouth Times received an anonymous (of course!) letter in the mail from someone who didn’t like our coverage of Portsmouth High School’s graduation …

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Editorial: Respond to hate — never ignore it


Around this time last year, The Portsmouth Times received an anonymous (of course!) letter in the mail from someone who didn’t like our coverage of Portsmouth High School’s graduation because the story included quotes from the guest speaker.

That’s right, the guest speaker.

The reason for the unnamed writer’s objection? The speaker was a teacher who had decided to come out as gay. He told students to “be true to yourself — whoever that may be,” and left the stage to a standing ovation.

Normally we would relegate such a hateful and bigoted letter, especially from someone who didn’t have the courage to attach their name to it, to our circular file. But since it appeared this letter came from within our own community, we decided to share a photo of the missive on our Facebook page and let readers decide.

The condemnation was swift and unequivocal: 87 comments, nearly all of them denouncing the writer’s ignorance and intolerance. Some took the time to write lengthy responses; here’s an excerpt from one of them: 

“The LGBTQ+ community is becoming more visible every day, and that is not going to stop or change. We will continue to become more visible to ensure that the younger generations (and even older generations that are still figuring it out) know that they can be who they are and not be ashamed or afraid.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been heartened once again by the community’s swift response to an act of bigotry against the LGBTQ+ community. Samantha Younger, a local resident who organizes Rockin’ Mama’s Markets — a traveling series of fund-raising pop-up events featuring local vendors and fun activities — decided to do one for Pride Month at the VFW hall in Common Fence Point on Saturday, June 10. Money raised went to Newport Pride, which had opened its new Pride Center in that city the previous day.

In the days before the event, however, Younger’s signs went missing and someone spray-painted an ugly sentiment on the railroad bridge entrance to the neighborhood. Undeterred, she went on with the market and, buoyed by the support of a community that has no tolerance for intolerance, it proved to be a great success. 

Younger was so moved by the turnout that she decided to throw another Pride Market on Sunday, to “raise double the amount of money for Pride and (to) show this one person that, ‘Your opinion doesn’t matter.’ These people matter, and that’s what we’re trying to show,” she said. Bravo.

It’s Pride Month in Portsmouth and in the U.S. Let’s celebrate it.

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.