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Profile: May 12

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Q&A With Brandy Roper

By Cody Davis

TFW Contributing Writer

(Contributor Photo: Cody Davis) Central EMS dispatcher Brandy Roper is the very first profile in the Gayetteville section.

Q: So, what do you do, Brandy?
BRANDY:
I am a dispatcher at Central EMS. I’ve worked there since May of 2006; five years this month. I answer 911 calls and send ambulances and about 17 rural fire departments to emergency locations. I also do patient transfers from one hospital to another.
When I take 911 calls I hear some of the craziest things. I like the “I just chopped my finger off” calls; gun shots are always exciting, too. One time a woman called because she ate some nails. Yeah, like hammer nails. It’s not fun per se, but it can be a huge adrenaline rush actually talking with these people while this stuff is happening.

Q: Have you ever had any problems with you being openly gay at work?
BRANDY:
I’ve never personally encountered any problems with me being openly gay at work, but there are seven other openly gay women I work with and they have experienced some negative attitudes from the occasional closed-minded co-worker. Most people that have a problem just keep their thoughts to themselves. There’s this banquet coming up and I’m bringing my girlfriend, Lauren, as my date. It makes me really happy that I can bring her around and introduce her as my girlfriend instead of just my friend. I can openly share our accomplishments, and that’s such a nice feeling.

Q: How has being gay affected you as a person?
BRANDY:
I love being gay; I really do. Especially now that things are changing and I can actually be a part of the movement, you know? I actually feel like I can change the world with my friends and family offering so much support.
My family loves me and they will continue to love me no matter what. Me being gay has made them realize how extreme equality issues really are. I’m changing their minds about gays. Their daughter that they love comes out of the closet, and they really start thinking about the logic of the issue. It’s easy for people to believe that being gay is wrong when the opposing side — from what I’ve seen — has never even gotten to know a gay person.

Q: How do you think we are supposed to solve this ongoing equality issue?
BRANDY:
We just need to convince people to come out. It’s all right, guys. I promise!
There are gay people everywhere and we just need to all support each other and help each other come out! It’s a lot of fun. I promise! I honestly really enjoy being gay. I guess it’s maybe more satisfying because you are sort of forced to find yourself and really discover who you are.
It’s a new, exciting thing because we’re finally, for the first time, being open to the world about ourselves. We need to make it easier for kids to come out easily and fearlessly. People will see that we are everywhere, and we will finally be an accepted part of society.
We also need education on these issues. Anti-gays can’t just listen to everything they’re told. They need to learn how to think on their own. The world must know that it’s completely OK and normal to be gay. It’s fun being who you are!

Q: Could you give some advice to those who are experiencing difficulties with being gay at a young age?
BRANDY:
Gay and questioning youth need to know that it’s not always going to be so hard. Eventually people will accept you.
They’re going to make fun of you, but you have to be proud of who you are. High school and junior high are both terrible, and if people think or know that you’re gay, chances are it is going to be even worse. Life is way better after high school. You feel like it will go on forever, but high school is just a few years and then it’s over.


750,000

By Brandy Roper

Oh, so close to becoming a statistic
The thought of death was nearly mystic
Feeling lost and alone
Said, “I love you” to family at home
Grasped tight were the bottles
and vein shredding device
The strange love for another was my only vice
Pill after pill, I choked them down
Wondering when I would be found
“This isn’t your fault, Mom.”
was a line in the note
Was she thinking of me as I wrote and wrote?
Feeling drowsy,
head spinning,
I scribbled the lines
Trying my hardest to write of happier times
Metal cold on my arm
I pushed until I saw red
And dragged it slowly as I laid down my head
Dropping the dagger
it landed with a TIC
Dying to be just another statistic

The title — 750,000 — was the number of teens who attempted suicide the year that I also attempted. This is my darkest secret. I have always been the happy girl who told jokes and could make anyone laugh. No one knew what I was going through inside due to hearing “butch” and “lesbo” from people in the halls as I passed and from my so-called “friends.”

My family doesn’t know about the attempt, and this may be a strange way for them to find out, but I feel it is 100 percent necessary for the gay and questioning youth of today to know that it truly does GET BETTER. The happiest of the LGBTQ community has gone through something similar due to the ignorance of the masses. I’ve decided to share this now to let the ones struggling to fit in know that they are not alone. We were all there, and they can pull through. Life is grand.

— Brandy

I’m hoping this will get inside some heads. Next time you hear an emergency siren, just remember Brandy is one of the reasons it’s going off.

10 Comments

Tom H. May 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

Brandy, you are so lucky to be the first GOTW. It was so nice meeting you and I think you and Lauren are a wonderful couple and so full of adventure. Live life to the fullest!

Reply to this comment
Elizabeth M. May 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Wow..your poem was beautiful. My story is very similar to yours. My suicide has long been a secret I wish I was ok to share. You are very brave for opening up like that! Thank you for the beautiful words!

-from one lesbian to another

Reply to this comment
James Murphy May 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm

While I understand this was supposed to be a good hearted story about a gay person in this community, I must say that I find the title extremely offensive and degrading to other gay men and women.

Growing up as a gay man, I was constantly harassed, belittled, bashed, and teased. The words that were used most were Queer or Faggot.

If this article is published again with the same title I will never pick up The Free Weekly ever again!!!! I have discussed this with several of my fellow gay and lesbian friends. We will protest and boycott. We will contact all advertisers in your newspaper to explain why we are protesting and ask for their support.

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kdoggvinyl May 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Then don’t pick it up again. You need to look at the “big picture” here. Every single thing you see in the media is not going to be “politically correct” just for you.

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Helen May 15, 2011 at 12:29 am

Brandy, thank you for your courage. You are an inspiration. As another openly gay woman in NWA, I was touched by your story and your willingness to share. I wish you all the best.

As for you, James Murphy, I respect your feelings on this matter, but think the way in which you expressed your opinion as a comment on this article is extremely disappointing as well as very inappropriate. Did you even read the interview? You obviously show no respect for Brandy’s bravery in being the first in this series, no matter the title of the article. If you had a problem with that, you should have contacted the author or the editor.

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