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Bay Village man chose high road by channeling anger into advocacy for LGBTQ Community

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 13:08:48-04

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Instead of using his anger for revenge, one man chose the high road after an altercation with a neighbor that involved insults towards the LGBTQ community.

Every community, sadly, has its battles.

“Derogatory comments, non-affirming language is something that’s often used against the LGBT community”, said Eliana Turner, the LGBT Community Center Director of Development.

How you fight them is what leaves a mark. Tom Tennant was always an ally, but last week he was caught off-guard by remarks from a neighbor of eight years.

“Last Wednesday, I was pulling out that morning to go to work, and as people will do, I wasn't really paying attention and he was walking and I didn't hit him, but he kind of came close to [me],” said Tom Tennant, now an LGBTQ+ ally fundraiser organizer.

Tom apologized, but that wasn’t good enough. They got into an argument and words were exchanged, but lines were crossed when the neighbor made insults aimed at the LGBT community, telling Tom he needed more "bass in his voice."

“Then he used a particular pejorative that I consider one of the worst words to use to call somebody, and I ended it there,” said Tom, who said he was frustrated, taken back and upset.

“I felt this isn't about me. It's about, you know friends and family and people I know who are in the LGBTQ+ community who may have to deal with this all the time. I've never had to deal with people arguing,” said Tom.

So he turned to Facebook to get his revenge, but not with a long-drawn-out rant — instead, with a fundraiser to raise awareness and funds during LGBT History Month.

"With everything going on in the pandemic and everything going on in politics and all that, I just didn't want to put negativity out there. I mean, I certainly thought like, 'What can I do to get back at him?' but it was just better to put positivity out there. I think people responded to that,” said Tom.

He expected to get $40, but those donations quickly racked up to $4,000.

The money Tom made will be donated to the LGBT Community Center in Cleveland, who tells News 5, sadly, altercations like his are common.

“Unfortunately, we do see a lot of that kind of stuff but what we don’t see is the way that he reacted to the altercation and he took all that negative energy that was directed at him and put in the world as a positive, we thought, 'Wow, what a great example,'” said Turan.

Tom knew he wanted to make an impact but was shocked by the response.

“It’s been amazing because I just did not expect everyone to kind of reach out,” said Tom, leaving not only him, but also those in the community with some hope.

“That warms my heart because what that tells me for every mean person out there there’s a bunch that has a heart,” said Turan.

The fundraiser will be until the end of the month. Tom says he’s thinking about doing something every year moving forward. To donate, click here.

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