published Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Cook: Letters to Chris Anderson

Never again will I refer to Chris Anderson as our city’s first openly gay councilman.

I’ll call him councilman. Or elected official. Or politician. But that phrase — Chattanooga’s first openly gay councilman — has shadowed him for the last 15 months, ever since he was elected as District 7’s representative.

Wherever his name appeared, that phrase was sure to follow. Headlines, new reports, this column. Not just Chris Anderson, but Chris Anderson, the city’s first openly gay councilman.

Yes, it mattered then.

Yes, it matters still.

And yes, it is a source of pride for Anderson, who is who he is in a graceful and unapologetic way.

But there’s a shelf life on the term, a point of expiration when its continued use detracts and distracts from Anderson’s politics and philosophies and instead sensationalizes the aspect of his personhood that is least relevant: his sexuality.

The day will come when no one will use the phrase any more. Our city’s third openly gay councilman! Plus, it’s a double standard, eeking of inequality. We don’t describe heterosexuality in such ways. Our city’s 1,345th straight councilman!

So I wash my hands of it. When we sat down over coffee recently, I told Anderson my new pledge.

“Thank you,” he replied.

Then, he handed me some mail. I’d asked to see some of the angry letters he’d received since taking office. Quickly, I wish I hadn’t.

“May God strike you … down,” one letter reads.

Multiple times since being elected, Anderson has needed police protection. At least twice, he’s received threats of violence.

Not for his ideas on urban chickens. Or his thoughts on the sprinkler system ordinance. Or his vision on how to turn downtown into an entertainment district.

Not for his work to create a new 10-acre park at the former Charles A. Bell Elementary in Alton Park. (It’s listed in the mayor’s proposed budget: $1 million for Bell School Park.)

Mostly, all the letters and calls came during his work to pass the domestic partner benefits ordinance.

“This is highly offensive and morally wrong and will surely bring God’s judgment upon our city,” emailed one pastor.

“What is this vote laying the groundwork for? North American Man Boy Love Association will probably see this same acceptance in less than 50 years,” wrote one married couple. A straight married couple.

Mostly, all the letters and calls came because he’s gay.

“An abomination,” emailed one man. “Evidently, you have no Christian spiritual values.”

The letters talk about sin, God’s word and judgment. Overtly or subtly, many letters link gayness with social destruction.

“Pornography, infidelity, fornication and perversion,” one pastor emailed.

“Promiscuity and sodomy,” another man wrote.

One pastor ends his you’re-so-wrong email with an altar-call-like invitation for Anderson to then form a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Do you know Him?” the pastor writes.

Oh, how warm. How inviting.

Yet for all their bitterness, these letters are Hallmark-nice compared with two handwritten letters Anderson received.

“You queer [expletive],” one reads.

“Waiting to dust your ass out in the cold.”

“We don’t forgive or forget you queer’s need to get back in your closets and [expletive].”

“Please close the closet door behind you [expletive].”

And those are the gentle sentences. Others are ridiculously vile, unprintably so. Worse, they are threatening. Anderson gave both letters to investigators.

“There are no fingerprints on the letter or envelope,” Anderson said. “There are no identifying marks on these letters.”

But there are.

The way we identify with one another — the marks we put on our relationships — says more about us than the other person. Anderson has been a lightning rod for fear, anger and May-God-strike-you-down-disgust. His mailbox is like a microcosm for our times.

But such meanness doesn’t represent all the letters he’s gotten. To others, Anderson has been a source of pride, courage and inspiration.

Guess I have to use that worn phrase once more: Chris Anderson, our city’s first openly gay councilman, and certainly, thankfully, not the last.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
fairmon said...

Domestic partners is not and should not be viewed as a moral issue. Those referring to the councilman's sexual preference are off base. The paying for domestic partners benefits are a fiscal responsibility issue. There is no justification for the council requiring tax payers to accept and pay for domestic partner benefits. Instead the council should review the way benefits are provided and paid for in total when compared to those in the private sector. Fair? Provide each employee a fixed dollar amount not exceeding a percent of the total paid annually to those directly employed and on the city employee roster. The total divided by the number of employees is the amount each has to select and pay for from a menu of benefits. The fairness some members refer to should include the tax payers when what is fair for whom is on the balance scale.

June 3, 2014 at 3:29 a.m.
librul said...

... and yet those same vindictive a--holes will beg for clemency when their youth pastor is exposed as a pedophile.

June 3, 2014 at 7:14 a.m.
sagoyewatha said...

He is what he is and his behavior has consequences, just like everyone. If you are starting a new trend in local journalism could you influence Tyler to cool his jets and stop writing about Sam Parker's "sentence for the murder of his third wife." If she isn't the 3rd wife he murdered, what does it matter? Just another nail in an unjustly treated man's coffin.

June 3, 2014 at 9:09 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Chris Anderson announced on his campaign platform over and over, "I am the only openly gay candidate." Ok. so what? No one cared about his sexual activities, which he continually announced over and over. The other council members never discussed their sexual preferences, over and over. In fact, the other council members never made mention. They also did not use the gay agenda as some badge of honor. What about Chris Anderson's sexual choices deserve honor? Who cares.

I don't believe for one minute, people threatened Chris Anderson at all. It was not surprise me at all if Dem party manipulator had someone write those to him for drama. Anderson likes the never ending saga of his own drama.

Everything Chris Anderson has been involved with he ends with, "I am openly gay." Anderson created his own pr problems, victim indeed?

June 3, 2014 at 10:01 a.m.
conservative said...

I have NEVER once referred to him as gay, not once.

June 3, 2014 at 10:06 a.m.
aae1049 said...

It is not his "openly gay" that makes people in his district sign to recall him. It is the fact he is arrogant and rude to people, and that will catch up with him next election.

June 3, 2014 at 10:10 a.m.
timmydano said...

The Domestic Partner Ordinance provide special rights; not equal rights.

Chris Anderson failed the gay community by fighting this issue on a local level. Instead of using his position and media coverage to go to Nashville and try to lobby for change in the state law, he fought a muddy and attention seeking campaign at an irrelevant level. I think he wanted to be a martyr more than he wanted to get "equal" rights.

Its a state level issue and we don't need to saddle the city with hundreds of domestic partners (hetero or not). Make same sex marriages legal in TN and then the city will provide benefits to all spouses. It would be far more reaching than just the employees of Chattanooga; it would benefit everyone in Chris's district and much more.

June 3, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
Ki said...

I can believe the nasty letters to Councilman Anderson are legit. Having myself been on the receiving end of such ugliness and threats I learned there truly are some seriously twisted, hateful and ignorant chattanoogans and most all of'em always throw up and god, scripture and religion fot support after vomiting and spewing their insane rants. Ignore the crazies, Councilman Anderson. The vast majority of us love you, respect you and wish you well. Godspeed!!!

June 3, 2014 at 1:06 p.m.
timbo said... many nasty comments do we conservative get on this page? Some of us are bad, but the venom spewed by liberals on this page is mind-boggling. Forgive me if I don't feel your pain.

I don't care if you have sex with a goat (just so it is not my goat....liberal goat milk?) but unless there is a legal contract between two people, I don't want to pay for them being "partners." I don't think that homosexuals should be ostracized or discriminated against but you can't make me like them. You also can't make me accept their lifestyle. I personally don't care, but some of the religious people have every right not to like it. Their rule book says it is wrong.

The crux of this problem is that homosexuals want acceptance. They want to call their version of the contract between two people "marriage" instead of something else. Marriage is between a man and a woman. That relationship between a man and a man or woman or and a woman is something else. Why do they insist on calling it marriage just to piss off conservative Christians?

No matter what it is, I don't want to pay for it. I don't think the government should pay for wives/husbands or children either. That is not our responsibility. I especially don't want to pay for people without any contract between them to cohabitate. Pay for the individual and if they want to pay for an added "buddie" let them do it.

Why does that bother you libs so much?

June 3, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.
Ki said...

Lil timro, that rule book also say fornicating, adutry and a host of other behaviors religious folks partake along with other mere mortals are wrong, but that rule book doesn't seem to apply to them when they day decide to get their own groove in.

June 3, 2014 at 6:13 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

timbo, still waiting on your proof that "500 democrats crossed the aisle and cast a vote for Fairbanks".

And I believe everyone of those letters are legit. I personally had the experience of having numerous lies tossed my way in an attempt to get me to sign the ordinance Eidson and her group started back in November. Besides, look at the desperate actions of Wysong and company in order to get the recall passed. Being a low-life, lying ahole won't get you very far in life.

June 3, 2014 at 7:08 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Gauss, a little lesson on government. City Council reps sign "ordinances." not registered voters. Rather, a registered voter may sign a "petition to place the matter on the ballot for referendum." Then, the voters decide by voting on the referendum. Apparently, you don't know what is signed. funny stuff. Remember, you should write about matters you really understand.

In August the voters will decide, called election process where they will kill the "ordinance" you are referring to.

June 3, 2014 at 8:55 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Nitpick over my choice of words all you want, it doesn't change the low-life behavior your some of you petitioners stooped. You are a wannabe. You may feel important at a TeaParty event, but the reality is, the only people that know your name are the people that torture themselves (myself included) to read your drivel.

June 3, 2014 at 10:08 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Gauss, you claimed you were asked to sign an ordinance. Not my words. Get your story straight, were you forced to sign an ordinance?

What is going to be your excuse when the voters approve the referendum. Then, will you upgrade your story to all the voters dupped then. You are absurd.

I don't think I am important at all, but will the likes of liberal want a bes silence me. You don't know me.

June 3, 2014 at 10:37 p.m.

I believe it is about diseased individuals. The overwhelming preponderance of percentage of HIV/AIDS infected people...per capita are homosexual individuals! We don't know with whom we may be associating

The HIV/AIDS infected homosexual usually carries an extremely high number of of Opportunistic Contagious Infections. This ranging from Gut Parasites-to-Gonorrhea. The Center for Disease Control states that in some states that Gonorrhea number is 50 percent of homosexual men. This Gonorrhea is loathsome in that it 'laughs' at the antibiotics they try for treatment. It has been labeled a 'Super Bug' and 'Nastier than AIDS'.

Why homosexual Gut Parasites? Just think about the kind of sex most homosexuals prefer.......What kind of men with men sexual intercourse? I am in no way saying that anyone, politician, or otherwise who is homosexual is going into someones gut/bowel/fecal elimination function intestines. I am not the Judge! Yet, should we break the city government by paying for their infected partners?

I advise to stay out of the homosexual lifestyle choice altogether! YOU CANNOT PLAY CHESS WITH JESUS CHRIST AND WIN! The number of mutating strains of HIV is on the increase.

Malleus Deus

June 4, 2014 at 6:33 p.m.
conservative said...

Ken you are so right. The healthcare for Homosexuals cost far more than that for normal people.

Then there is the added cost for healthcare for an employee's bed partner and his/her kids from multiple marriages and illegitimate children and it is going to cost taxpayers plenty.

I hope you don't live in Chattanooga.

June 4, 2014 at 7:21 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"What is going to be your excuse when the voters approve the referendum."

What will be yours if it gets voted down? I suspect your's will be similar to Wysong's when the petition to recall Anderson failed.

P.S. Nobody wants to "silence you". Nobody gives a crap what you think. Your opinion on any matter means as much as mine, Joe's, or the man on the moon's. Nada, nothing, zip.

June 4, 2014 at 10:07 p.m.
fairmon said...

What is the justification for providing benefits beyond those for employees? Why are tax payers asked to pay for any family members healthcare or any other expenses beyond those of the employee? Is there a per employee cap on what the administration and council is willing to have tax payers fund?

June 5, 2014 at 6:11 a.m.

Yes, in fact, the city of Chattanooga could be putting itself at risk for near bankruptcy trying to treat the HIV/AIDS infected homosexual. The lifetime cost of treatment is over $400,000-600,000. Your tax money. (opportunistic homosexual partners of the covered Employees).

Malleus Deus

June 5, 2014 at 7:53 a.m.

Please consider this:

To Promote Homosexual Unions is to Promote The Behavior. This is Not to be Mean. This Is 'Center For Disease Control' (CDC) Fact. Please be Aware That the General Public May be Put at Risk by the Homosexual Population From Something as Common as Movie Theater Seats. This is Due to the Loss of Anatomical Control Caused by the Kind of Behavior Homosexual Individuals Often Prefer. (Especially Homosexual Men With Men.) Wet body fluids do penetrate fabrics and reach to theater patron’s hemorrhoids, etc. (This is serious, not a joking matter). Below is a Partial List of Diseases Caused by Certain Homosexual Behaviors:

June 5, 2014 at 7:57 a.m.

As is noted, the homosexual population (per capita) overwhelmingly contract these communicable diseases due to their kind of sexual choices. Innocent tax payers should not be burdened with paying for their unwise lifestyle choices.

Traumatic proctitis,

Rectal gonorrhea,

Anal warts,


Nonspecific procitis (from chlamydia and other STDs),

Anorectal herpes,

Anorectal syphilis,

Hepatitis B,

Rectal trichomoniasis,

Lymphogranuloma venereum,

Anorectal granuloma inguinale,

Anorectal chancroid, Cytomegalovirus,

Anorectal candidiasis, and many more that pass on to little children and others using public venues. I am only saying that we should be very careful with whom we associate. Jesus Christ has warned us through the Holy Bible Scriptures.

Malleus Deus

June 5, 2014 at 8:02 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Orr, you are a piece of work. Your head is so far up your anus, I don't see how you live a functional existence. You post may have been valid in the early 80's, but it's just nonsense today. Maybe you better start taking a tarp to sit on the pew at church each Sunday? Plenty of homosexuals attend church on a regular basis. And lesbians have almost a 0% chance of contracting HIV. Exponentially smaller then the chances of a heterosexual. I think your post may be an ad vocation for homosexuality; at least if you are a female.

June 5, 2014 at 10:02 a.m.
timbo said...

GaussianInterger....Here it is in a nut shell. Even the Rhonda/Fred hating TFP said that less than 10 democrat ballots were pulled and that Rhonda may have been right on the crossovers. Also, the Soddy Precincts and Lakesite, which are heavily majority democrat voted heavily for Fairbanks. Lakesite actually put him over the top.

If you go to the past election data, Fred got basically the same number of votes in the primary he always gets (1200), his opponent usually gets around 600. Fairbanks increased Fred's opponent vote by that 600. A 50% you think that the population of Soddy-Daisy went up 50% in four years? Those extra, "republicans" showed up out of nowhere. yea, right...numbers don't lie.

Then Geno Shipley shows up at the election commission to start a write-in campaign even before Rhonda decided to do it. Why?..because he knew he couldn't beat Rhonda or Fred but thought he could beat Fairbanks. As soon as Rhonda got in, Geno got out and threw his dubious support to Fairbanks.

This is politics 101.

Before you say I am a conspiracy theorist, let me say that conspiracies happen all the time...coincidence is rare.

In any event, this is all water under the bridge because Rhonda will win the write-in in a landslide because she is popular in District 1 and the only honest politician I know.

June 5, 2014 at 11:06 a.m.
timbo said...

Ki, I wasn't commenting on Christian is rampant. I was just giving their view of what the rule book says on this subject.

June 5, 2014 at 11:08 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

The evidence does not support your claim Timbo. The voting record shows 26 people voted a Democrat ballot in the May 2010 county primary, which is a slight increase from the 14 people who voted a Democrat ballot in the May 2006 county primary. When compared to the last two county primary elections, I believe the nine people who voted a Democratic ballot in the 2014 primary election is closer to the norm rather than unusual for District 1. So please explain where all of these "mysterious" voters came from (and the Lakesite and Soddy theory is not going to produce the numbers you are pushing).

June 5, 2014 at 3:41 p.m.


You are absolutely Wrong. No offense intended. Following You will be apprised of the CDC statistics regarding the huge number of lesbians who have contracted HIV/AIDS. So many of the lesbian partners are actually bi-sexuals who bring AIDS to their women partners on a regular basis.

Malleus Deus

June 5, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Ken, do you not believe that lying is is a sin? There is no such CDC statistic that "shows a huge number of lesbians who have contracted HIV/AIDS". Piss off, you lying piece of garbage.

June 5, 2014 at 5:20 p.m.

Mr. Orr believes the earth is 6,000 years-old, that dinosaurs lived with men, that serpents talked, that Noah's flood was an historic fact, and Revelation and the other fictional accounts in the Bible are true, literally true. Not illustrative stories, not myths, not fables, but true.

Why would you get your science, medical information, or history from this Fundy-NutZ?

June 5, 2014 at 6:19 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Look at his avatar. If that dude isn't gay, then no one is.

June 5, 2014 at 6:56 p.m.


Pseudo-Intellectuals and those who do not have any other FACTS nor DEFENSE utilize NAME CALLING....Please consider how You want to be perceived by others.

Lesbian Suicide is at least 4 (four) times the rate of heterosexual females. Lesbian 'suicide attempts'=22% (twenty-two) compared to 4% (four) heterosexual.

HIV IS a horrible disease for women in the United States and around the world. It's also the leading cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34. (The American Foundation for AIDS Research.) (You decide how many of these women are lesbians). Even 'one' lesbian death is too many! Women! Your partner may often be around HIV/AIDS infected men. You do not know if she is a PLEASURE-SEXUAL, or, a true Homosexual. If, in a weak moment she has relations with an infected man, then, she will likely infect You also. I do, genuinely care.......kwo

June 5, 2014 at 9:49 p.m.

And Women! Listen Up! Lesbians-Be advised that in the state of Tennessee Women make up approximately 24% of AIDS Diagnosis. Oh, no, certainly none of these are lesbians. More info upcoming! (23.7 actual percentage). Birth Control pills, Morning After pills, Slaughter House Abortions so You can party at Da' Club ain't no powerful liberal statement you're making. It's no great surprise or wonder. There are an estimated (low) 60,000 Women [U.S.A.] who act? in hard-core pornography videos. These numbers sky rocket when we only talk about lewd still photographs. Now, prostitution, tricky escort services, etc. Don't even try to estimate this astronomical number of Women who agree to be objects.

Malleus Deus

June 5, 2014 at 10 p.m.

HIV/AIDS is skyrocketing among females. Of Course, none of them are lesbians +(:> Wink-Wink! Even sparsely populated neighbor Canada now reports, through a source probably more reliable than the Center for Disease Control [CDC]:

"In recent years around a quarter of new adult HIV diagnoses HAVE BEEN AMONG WOMEN. Half of all positive DIAGNOSIS IN FEMALES were in young people aged under 20 years old. Although most exposure to HIV was from heterosexual sex, injecting drug use accounted for over 19% of infections IN WOMEN in 2009." AIDS statistics. Oh yeah! Sure Ikeithlu, sure, ABSOLUTELY NONE COULD POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN LESBIANS, OH NO, NEVER! NOPE, NO LESBIANS...but read on about the following CDC report, *'which includes lesbians'.


June 5, 2014 at 10:08 p.m.

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) Reports

In a 1992 report, a total of 18,199 women with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) from the period 1980–1991 were examined; 164 of these women provided a history of female-to-female sexual contact. Of the 164, a total of 152 (93%) provided an additional history of IDU, and 12 (7%) had received blood before 1985 (9). In a 1994 report, of 1,122 women found to be HIV-positive, 65 (5.8%) had a history of female-to-female sexual contact. Of the 65, a total of 55 (85%) also had a history of sexual contact with men; 28 of the women with a history of sexual contact with both men and women also reported IDU. Of the 10 remaining women with exclusive female-to-female sexual contact, eight reported IDU, one had received a blood transfusion, and one was reported as having no other identified risk behavior (10).

Malleus Deus... says, Women Having Sex With Women Are Having Homosexual Sex, oh, They Are Not Lesbians? Oh! +(:>

June 5, 2014 at 10:30 p.m.

So, GaussianInteger, You called me a liar about something I did not lie about. I already know Your type. You don't bother me. I forgive You.

So, 24% are women (CDC) just using Tennessee as an example. Now 1 in 5 [maybe 1 in 4] Women infected with HIV/AIDS don't even know they carry the infection. How many of these are lesbians? Put the statistical analysis into action. Even with the fact that Women still want to be perceived as 'pure' and would never disclose, the number is tremendous. Put Your head into the sand if You like. But, please do some true research before You call anyone a liar about facts of which You have not even been apprised.

Malleus Deus

June 5, 2014 at 10:46 p.m.

Many other STDs - such as herpes - are just as common for lesbians as for women who have sex with men. Genital warts are painless bumps on the vulva, in the vagina, on the cervix or round the anus. They can be passed through contact with the wart, for example by touching, rubbing or sharing sex toys. It is unlikely non-genital warts, such as on hands, can be transferred to the genitals.Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) gives a frothy, itchy vaginal discharge and is passed on by contact with the vagina only, for example by touching or sharing sex toys.Herpes can cause painful sores on the inside of the vulva/vagina or anus (these are genital herpes) or on the mouth (cold sores). Herpes can be passed on through contact with a sore, for example by touching, fondling or sharing sex toys. Oral sex when a cold sore is present can also transmit the virus. It can be possible to have the herpes virus, be infectious and yet never have had any symptoms. An American study found that the majority of women who have sex with women, who are infected with herpes, are unaware of their infection. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are rare in lesbians but if they are present may be passed on through sharing sex toys or rubbing vulvas together. Often there are no symptoms, though there may be a discharge. The first sign of both infections may be pain in the pelvic region (pelvic inflammatory disease or PID). There is a risk of infertility for women who have had untreated chlamydia. Read more about chlamydia and gonorrhea.Syphilis is very infectious among lesbians and close skin contact during sex can pass it on. Syphilis causes painless ulcers (or chancres) to appear where the bacteria entered the body. A chancre on the vagina can be almost unnoticeable.Hepatitis*** refers to viral infections that cause inflammation of the liver. Certain forms of hepatitis can easily be passed on in sex - for example by touching or sharing sex toys. There are often no symptoms, though it can cause jaundice or nausea. Read more about hepatitis. It is vital you seek help as soon as you notice any symptoms and that you do not have sexual contact that could pass on any infection until it has been dealt with.Bacterial and fungalinfections.Both men and women can develop bacterial and fungal infections, such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms of these infections are similar to those of an STD/STI. However, although these bacterial and fungal infections can be passed during sex, they can also occur naturally, so are not classed as sexually transmitted diseases/ infections.Thrush is an overgrowth of yeast causing vaginal itching and soreness, often with a white discharge. It can be passed via sex between women, though oral sex is low risk.Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria causing a smelly discharge. Some PARASITES can be transmitted by either close or sexual contact.

June 5, 2014 at 11:17 p.m.
timbo said...

Gausinterger..or whatever...The point was that democrats pulled Republican ballots. There is more evidence now that Fairbanks has come out with a mailer that gives his supporters. They include Soddy-Daisy democrats Geno Shipley, Janice Cagle, and most other democrats. The only way to please democrats is to spend more money. If Fairbanks wins, here comes the tax increase.

It is obvious what happened.

June 6, 2014 at 11:30 a.m.
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