Tom Tennant of Bay Village, Ohio, always considered himself an ally to LGBTQ+ people, so he was frustrated when a recent altercation with a neighbor led the neighbor to call him a homophobic slur.
“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],” Tennant told local TV station WEWS.
Tennant said he apologized, but an argument still erupted. The neighbor, Tennant said, first told him that 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,” Tennant said.
“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,” he continued.
When all was said and done, Tennant took to social media and began a fundraiser for LGBTQ+ 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,” Tennant explained.
He expected to maybe get $40, according to WEWS. Instead, he got more than $5,000.
“It’s been amazing because I just did not expect everyone to kind of reach out,” said Tennant.
The money he raised will go to the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
“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,” Eliana Turan, the LGBT Community Center’s director of development, told the station.
“That warms my heart because what that tells me, for every mean person out there, there’s a bunch that has a heart,” Turan added.
Tennant's fundraiser ends October 31.