Mayor issues stern letter about homophobia in Somerville
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is publicly scolding the persons who used homophobic slurs to describe the city’s first openly gay alderman.
In an open letter to the public that was dated Tuesday, Curtatone said the official, whom he did not name, is a friend of his and that the offensive remarks have no place in Somerville. (The full letter can be read below.)
“In light of this information, let me renew my stance on this and any other derogatory remarks against human beings in ours and another other community: This kind of abusive behavior has no place in our city – or any other,” Curtatone wrote in the letter. “Not only do I personally condemn all anti-gay slurs and insults, the City of Somerville has an ordinance on the books that proudly informs every resident and guest of our city that we stand in solidarity with all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as all residents of any gender, age or ethnicity.”
Curtatone’s letter refers to comments made against recently-appointed Alderman Courtney O’Keefe. She was appointed to the board April 25.
O’Keefe told Metro that there were two comments made against her sexuality, including one person who called her the “dyke candidate.” According to the Somerville Journal, a columnist for the paper was singled out by Alderman Bob Trane for allegedly berating O’Keefe after a meeting. The columnist told the Journal he e-mailed O’Keefe a few hours after their conversation and apologized.
She said the ignorant comments were “disheartening,” but they didn’t change her opinion about serving on the Board of Alderman or running for election in November.
“It doesn’t make me want to do this any less. It makes me want to do this more,” she told Metro. “I’ve been out for 15 years and never had anyone say anything about my sexual orientation until now. It’s that typical thing; you become a public official and they nit pick everything about you.
“I’m from Somerville. They think that dyke candidate … is going to rattle my cage? It’s going to take a little more than that,” she said.
O’Keefe said she read Curtatone’s letter and never had anyone stick up for her the way he did. She said it was emotional to read.
“He really put himself out there and not only supported me, but every gay, lesbian, transgender person, anybody who is different. It doesn’t even have to be a gay thing. It’s not even a gay thing. It’s about anyone who is different,” she said.