Laura Lee Bishop is a pop/CW singer from Gilmer, Texas, who records on the Tommy Boy/AM:Racket label. As you can see from the video above, she is a pretty young woman with a really nice voice who, like other young female pop/CW singers, likes to sing about finding “A Real Man.”
So you probably wonder why I am writing about her here on Instant Tea, the blog for Dallas Voice, the LGBT newsmagazine. Simple: I want to say thanks to Ms. Bishop for the way she schooled at least one East Texas bigot on the issue of hate crimes.
It all started when a man named Elliott Dean wrote a letter, titled, “Must Get It Out,” to his local newspaper, The Gilmer Mirror, expressing his disdain and disgust for those gays and lesbians who insist on living out in the open, and not hiding their sinfulness away so that he and other God-fearing folk don’t have to see it.
I’m not gonna reprint the whole letter here. You can follow the link and read it for yourself. But here’s just a small taste: “Now look, I don’t care if you want to sleep with your dog or mule. I just don’t care; it is none of my business. The trouble is you keep making it my business. You continue to bring it into my living room.”
(Just for the record, neither I nor any of my friends — LGBT or straight — have ever expressed any desire to sleep with a dog or a mule or any other kind of animal. And I can tell you for sure that I have no intention of ever taking anything into Elliott Dean’s living room; that’s one of the very last places I’d ever want to be. And if he is talking about LGBT people on the TV, well, I am pretty sure even he can figure out how to use the remote long enough to change the channel or even turn the TV off.)
After he got through explaining how God ordained marriage as between one man and one woman, and exactly what the Bible says, Mr. Dean went on to talk about “One more thing: hate crimes.” He asked, “Is that one of those oxy somethings?” and went to explain how crime is crime, and how he should have the right to hate whoever he wants, no matter what color their skin is.
And if that weren’t enough, Elliott Dean added one more subject: use of “the N word.” He just can’t understand why some black people would be upset by the use of that word. Sticks and stones may break bones, Mr. Dean reminded us, but words can’t hurt. I mean, surely if somebody told him he is an ignorant racist bigotted asshole, he wouldn’t even blink an eye.
Ok. So I am really not the least bit surprised that the local newspaper in a very small East Texas town would get a letter to the editor like Mr. Dean’s. And I am not surprised that the newspaper would print that letter. But I do admit — and yes, this is probably a kind of prejudice on my behalf — I was surprised that the very first comment written in response was one that so efficiently took Elliott Dean to task for his uneducated, ill-informed bigotry. I was even more surprised when I realized that the young woman who wrote the response was an up-and-coming singer looking to make a career in CW music. Folks like that have always tended to steer clear of such controversy because of the damage it might do to their careers.
But Laura Lee Bishop apparently had no such qualms. “I find it sad I must explain the definition of a hate crime and how it is different from other crimes, but it appears after Elliot Dean’s many years on this earth, he failed to grasp the concept,” her response started out. After explaining exactly why a hate crime is not just like any other crime, the young singer told Dean, “You look extremely foolish. Please educate yourself. You are far too old to have missed the boat on this one. Next time you write one of your little letters, you should do a some research and make sure you understand what you’re talking about.”
So Bravo Laura Lee Bishop! You go, girl! I am going to be watching your career from here on out, and yeah, I’ll buy your music, too. Thank you for having the guts to stand up for what’s right.
And by the way, let’s hear it for Laura Lee Bishop’s sister, Rachel, too. When someone using the name “Gilmer Pride” responded by threatening to boycott Laura Lee’s music, sister Rachel let ‘em have it:
“Why don’t you quit hiding behind your fake name on here and say who you are? Not only are you a bigot, but you are also a coward. Someone with your ignorance wouldn’t know good music so, yes, she passes on giving a damn whether the likes of you listens to it. The amount of ignorance in Gilmer is outstanding.
Rachel Anne Bishop, daughter of the late David Bishop and badass attorney, Karen D. Bishop, sister of the amazing talent, Laura Lee Bishop — Are you jealous much?”