Columnist Dick Yarbrough recently penned an opinion piece in the Georgia-based Marietta Daily Journal about a series of gripes related to that city’s parks, including smoking, cell phone use, and public sex. In his discussion of the latter, Yarbrough links public sex acts in Marietta parks with gay men.
The column is titled, “The Doggone Solution to Marietta's Park Problems.” In “advising” the participants of public acts in city parks, Yarbrough writes, “If any of the participants are reading this (Somehow, I don't think I am "must-read" in the gay community), you could be in serious trouble.”
Also while referencing the public sex issue, Yarbrough asks, “Why in the name of Barney Frank hasn't somebody done something about it before now?” Frank is an openly gay congressman from Massachusetts who has no connection to Marietta parks, and Yarbrough’s mention of him is only a further attempt to link gay men with public sex.
Yarbrough then suggests a violent ‘solution’ to public sex in area parks:
With a little instruction, dogs could be taught to severely dislike the gay lovers in Burruss and Wildwood and bite them in the fanny and do what City Council should have done years ago - chase them off to Atlanta where they belong.
The column sparked a number of concerned replies on Marietta Daily’s website that strongly scrutinize Yarbrough’s sensational tone, his anti-gay stereotypes and his call for violence, however benign he tried to make it”
Yes, Dick, gay people do read newspapers and no, most of us who identify as gay do not have sex in parks. I met my husband at a mutual friend's birthday party and a lot of my single gay friends meet dates at work, at school, at church, in sport organizations and through mutual friends who have no problem with the fact they are gay.
While sex in public parks is a valid social issue for journalists to investigate through seeking out the opinions of qualified experts, columnist Dick Yarbrough missed the mark entirely and instead perpetuated biases and misinformation that contribute to fostering a climate that puts LGBT people in harm’s way.
Please contact both the Marietta Daily Journal and columnist Dick Yarbrough and express your concern. Ask the publication and its columnist to stop publishing inflammatory information that does not serve the public interest – and urge them to work with GLAAD to ensure that future news coverage that affects our community adheres to basic standards of fairness.
Please forward this link to any of your friends and others who may wish to take action. When contacting Yarbrough and the Marietta Journal please ensure that your emails and phone calls are civil and respectful and do not engage in name-calling or abusive behavior.
The Marietta Daily Journal
Dick Yarbrough, Columnist