Can we change our image?

I am a Conservative who teaches in the public school system. Over the years I’ve kept a low profile. Recently, however, I decided to put a framed picture of President Bush and Laura on the wall of my office. I contribute to the Republican Party and have received signed pictures each year since the President took Office.

I chose an inconspicuous place on the back wall which faces my desk. A person would have to be pretty perceptive to notice it. A few days later, the Chairman of the Department came into my office to discuss something. I had forgotten about the picture, when suddenly he said “I can’t believe you have a picture of President Bush on the wall!”

His comment made me rather defensive since having a picture of the President of the United States and the First Lady displayed in my office doesn’t seem like a crime to me. I answered, “what is wrong with that?” He said, “people will know that you are a Republican.” The surprise on my face must have been showing so he clarified himself, “students will think that you hate gays.” He is a gay man who has lived with his gay partner for years, and has always known that I am a Republican and that I don’t hate gays.

A couple of days later a student noticed the picture and said, “oh, no, you’re a Republican, how could I have liked you so much?” I asked him, “so my being a Republican changes your mind about me? Tell me why.” He said, “you hate the environment and animals.” I told him that I believe that we should protect the environment, that I recycle paper and plastic and that I have several cats that I love very much. However, I don’t think that man is responsible for global warming. The student has not come by the office since.

I must admit that I have been feeling a bit let down by this occurrence. I know that the MSM has depicted Republicans as “gay hating, environment hating” people but we have now had quite a few years to change that image since we have had the conservative media. Can we ever overcome the stereotype?