Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke is no stranger to letters criticizing his way of doing things. Not to mention the tweets, Facebook messages, and phone calls.
But a note that arrived at his home this week was different: It targeted his sexuality, and took a threatening tone, he said.
“Alex, you are one of the most selfish people that I know due to your ‘gay’ lifestyle,” the note began. “You are going down.”
There was no return address, and no name at the bottom.
Morse, who is openly gay, posted an image of the anonymous note to Facebook on Friday. He said he decided to make the message public to bring awareness to what he sees as the challenges ahead, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House.
“It’s a more threatening message than usual, and given the context of the culture that seems to have been elevated since the Trump election, I thought it was important to shine a light on this language and behavior,” said Morse in a telephone interview.
“It’s different than writing a note that says, ‘I don’t support gay marriage,’ or ‘I don’t support rights for someone.’ But to demean someone’s humanity based on their sexuality takes it to another level,” Morse said.
The note, which makes no direct mention of a Trump presidency, came a few days before the incoming Republican president selected Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for the job of attorney general.
Sessions faced turmoil in 1986 when he was nominated as a federal judge. He was accused of making racist comments while serving as US attorney in Alabama, according to the Associated Press.
Morse, who was born and raised in Holyoke, is concerned about Sessions’ potential role in a Trump administration. On Facebook, beneath the picture of the note that was sent to his house, Morse wrote that Sessions will do “nothing to protect LGBTQ Americans and people of color.”
Morse said people seem to have been emboldened by a Trump victory, and the United States could be entering an era that will leave many, including minorities and people of color, feeling that their government won’t protect them.
“That’s a pretty disappointing feeling,” he said. “It’s more important than ever before to speak out and come together.”
Morse plans to talk with the city’s police chief about the note, to document the incident in the event it becomes a recurring theme, he said.
Since he received the message, Morse said, there has been an outpouring of support from his constituency. People have called and left messages at his office and expressed concern, he said. More than 400 people have left comments on Facebook, calling the note “sick” and “disgusting.”
“Like any community, be it in Holyoke, Mass., or anywhere else across the country, there are going to be people who are small-minded and bigoted,” he said.
But, he added, “I know that the good always outweighs the bad.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.