Irecently had the opportunity to meet New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anna Quindlen. In her remarks, Quindlen was candid about the importance of integrity and honesty in news writing; the unequivocal necessity of balancing truth within journalistic constraints. “It is critical,” she said “to make every word count.”
s I reflected on Quindlen’s admonition, it brought to mind the recent commentary by Robert Parker (“Gay Mormon calls on church for acceptance,” Nov. 14) revealing deeply personal feelings on faith and his own homosexuality.
Though many readers responded that Parker’s treatise was not news at all and were incensed that both Mormonism and homosexuality were given any space in the paper (in their appraisal neither being newsworthy), I offer an alternative perspective.
For many of us who remember Mesa as a genuine community rather than a formidable metropolis, where being a citizen here meant Matta’s Mexican Food on Friday nights, shopping at Wright’s Supermarket on Saturday mornings, and going for ice cream meant sitting at the counter at Everybody’s Drug, a Mormon revealing homosexual attraction is big news.
And while not every news story is intriguing or relevant to every reader, with more than 30 pages of online responses posted, it seems clear that many people were interested in Parker’s query into religious conformity and alternative lifestyle acceptance.
No matter one’s own beliefs on the subject of sexual orientation, it should be recognized that a person who would publicly acknowledge something sure to incite the readers of his own community took an outrageous amount of courage and introspection. By Parker’s own admission, placing his religious beliefs and sexual orientation side by side in writing was one of the most difficult things he has ever had to face.
Some respondents felt that his comments were untenable, but to question the verity of his statements seems a bit injudicious. Rather than eviscerate him for his personal choices, I applaud his candor and courage. His attempt to remain in a church that on its foundational tenets cannot abide his lifestyle is a tremendous manifestation of resoluteness and faith. Anyone can defect; it takes fortitude to stay.
While I struggle to believe that Parker’s plea to the leaders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will bring him the acceptance he seeks, it must be acknowledged that his comments did start a dialogue. His commentary gave rise to a controversial and passionate conversation between individuals of differing faiths and belief systems.
Whether we agree with his choices or are supportive of his decisions, he has the right to express them; and with honesty, he did.
In his sincere and cogent commentary, Robert Parker made every word count and in my estimation, that makes it decidedly newsworthy.
- Shari Hanson is a Mesa native. She works in the book industry and is the mother of seven children.