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Public display of objection

Ranger Rich



There are gay gorillas, gay killer whales and gay ostriches. There are gay camels, too, and I will try in this camel reference to refrain from using the word "hump." Oops.

There are, biologists say, gay Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Garden of the Gods, right here in our village — rams that definitely do not have eyes for ewe, if you know what I mean.

A leading researcher into this animal kingdom gayness, Bruce Bagemihl of Seattle, wrote a book about it, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.

All of which is sure to make local old guy, prolific letter-writer and outspoken tea party-like person Whitney Galbraith want to scream. In a deep, manly voice, of course, because, well, Whitney isn't real big on this gay thing.

Nestled against the mountains, our Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (where my wife is a member of the board of directors) is a lovely place, a modern zoo with new exhibits built with funds given by individuals and groups, each big donation noted on a modest sign with the person's or organization's name.

One of those small signs recognizes the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, which helped fund the African Rift Valley exhibit. Whitney — which, it should be noted, can also be a woman's name — saw that sign a while back and got so mad he could barely see, well, straight.

He wrote an open letter to Mike Edmonds, chairman of the zoo's board, which was published in the Indy. Here's the beginning of Whitney's letter:

"When last week I took my young family, including two grandsons, on a long anticipated visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the first thing we encountered ... was a large 'gay and lesbian' sign, which I interpreted as a demand on the part of the zoo for its patrons to think about homosex ..."

When I read the letter for the first time, especially the part about "homosex," I blew a huge mouthful of my morning coffee out of my nose in a great big wet spray. This, as you might imagine, did not make the dental hygienist very happy.

Anyway, the letter from old Whitney — he says he has lived near the zoo and the Broadmoor resort for "some seven decades" — answers a lot of questions about society and tolerance and also answers another big question: "Good Lord, who voted for Steve Bach for mayor?"

Whitney is no stranger to this business of writing angry letters, sending them for years to newspapers and other organizations whenever something ruffles his conservative feathers. To the Gazette in 2009, he wrote, "Nowhere has government become more intrusive ... than in the construction of 'anti-discrimination' legislation." It was a long, rambling piece blasting same-sex partner benefits and the "invasive and irrational 'rights industry,'" even getting in a mention of "the supreme metaphor of the successes of the anti-discrimination era, the election of a black American as president of the United States."

In a letter to the Indy in 2010, Whitney ranted about the town's newly formed Human Relations Commission, dismissing such goals as "respect for diversity" and "discouraging discrimination in any form."

If you wonder why our economically struggling village seems to be of no interest to technology companies, a village that offers mostly lousy jobs and an airport that sometimes looks abandoned, well, look no further than the tens of thousands of Whitney Galbraiths shuffling around in their slippers.

But back to Whitney's most recent letter.

"The board of directors of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo," he wrote, "... has made the corporate decision to promote a very private political agenda ... that represents the most divisive rendering of American society in modern times."

Such lofty rhetoric in mind, I called Whitney and asked him to explain his personal beliefs about homosexuality. "My view is not of any interest to anybody," he replied. "That's my private business. We will leave that alone."

As for what he'd like the zoo to do in response to his letter: "I would like to think they would take down the Gay and Lesbian sign. It's misplaced. It doesn't belong there. Such a public institution advocating a private agenda is misplaced."

For the love of God, Whitney, it's a donor sign! Instead of spewing homophobic ignorance, why not get on board and send the zoo a donation?

Maybe your grandsons won't grow up thinking Grandpa is an embarrassing buffoon.

Rich Tosches ( also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.

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