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LETTER: National — and individual — views on homosexuality have evolved

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BANNING, Calif. — When the Herald published Ronald Fischer’s column, “Focus ‘marriage debates’ on best interests of children,” I swallowed with uneasy recognition (Page A4, June 19).

I had been of that mind myself, 50 years ago.

So, what a relief it was when David Rolloff and Matthew Rozsa (“Column cited discredited research” and “Evidence is in: Gay marriage doesn’t hurt children,” Page A4, June 24) took Fischer to the woodshed for his “specious” and self-serving arguments.

In the 1960s, in my fumbling North Dakota way, I had been devouring books such as “Psychology and Homosexuality.” As a married father of two, I had encountered a number of gays, wondered a good deal about their lives and entertained the notion that counseling could “stay away the gay.”

Indeed, as a young teacher in California, I had embraced the concerns of a senior student who approached me with her confidence: “I’m like that.”

I set out a personal reading project for her — literature featuring gay characters, all with an eye toward working out her “problem” and somehow turning her straight.

We continued our very hush-hush work for some weeks, so what a shock it was when one day her school counselor corralled me in the hallway and congratulated me for my interest in “Robin N.” However, he said, Robin’s genetics were other than I surmised, she already was her “own person” — and I should get comfortable with that.

Robin completed the project and confided the reading was worthwhile, but had done nothing to change her inclinations. She went on to become a highly successful student at Stanford University — and remained a lesbian.

In the fifty years since, I have continued to follow the progress of gays. Like so many Americans, my thinking has evolved.

How right — and timely — it was that her counselor should set me straight.

Beard, a graduate of UND, is a native of Reynolds, N.D.

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