A letter from Missoula

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Not long before he passed away at the age of 100, my father wrote a letter to President Trump. In the letter, Dad, a lifelong Republican and former legislator, discussed how essential it was to democracy for those with opposing viewpoints to build relationships, to listen, and to compromise. This spring, I met the current legislators from Libby and had good conversations. I was disappointed to read that both recently asserted that flying the Pride flag at the capital was a political act.

It brought back a memory of when my dad attended his 50th high school class reunion in Lewistown. One of his classmates, “Jim,” came to the reunion, the first he had attended. Jim explained that he had worried that if he shared the fact that he was gay, he would risk rejection and perhaps violence from former classmates.

This conversation struck something deep in Dad. He admitted that he might have reacted negatively to news of his classmate’s sexual orientation when he was younger. He was grateful that Jim had come back and shared his story. This was not political. Rather, it was an encounter made possible by Jim’s courage and Dad’s ability to listen, learn, and to grow into a more compassionate and more tolerant human.

May we soon see the day when flying the Pride flag is not an issue and when all are accepted in Libby, Lewistown, and across Montana. And may all of us, including political leaders, regardless of party or politics, lead in modeling acceptance and inclusion.

— Sally Mueller, Missoula

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