New Sherwood

Orland, California: “A Town Where it’s Hard to Say ‘Gay'”

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Fran is my favorite waitress at the Kountry Kitchen – always ready with a smile and pleasant conversation. She doesn’t like the big cities, and once told me that she never travels further south than Dunnigan.

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle contains quite a surprise: a long, detailed profile of Orland and the same-sex marriage issue. Some reporter obviously spent quite a lot of time here. I’m not sure what to think of the article, except to say that it isn’t a conventional hit piece – and that’s refreshing.

“But the topic has yet to make its way into everyday conversation in Orland, the largest city in staunchly conservative Glenn County, which in 2000 voted for Proposition 22, the successful state ballot initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman, with the highest total in the state, nearly 83 percent.

The town of about 7,000 people sits just a few blocks off busy Interstate 5 and is a three-hour drive from San Francisco. Politically, though, it is as far away as Middle America.

‘The last time I was in San Francisco was in the 1950s,’ Vonasek said. ‘Too wild for me.’

Whether it is opinions on same-sex marriage or an affinity for big trucks, not much has changed in Orland in the last eight years.

Republicans still outnumber Democrats, 47 percent to 33 percent. It’s still a place where residents brag only half-jokingly about having more bars and churches than anywhere else in the state. Even though it has been hit hard by the real estate foreclosure crisis, Orland remains a bedroom community for people who commute to nearby Chico. And it’s still a place where almond trees appear to outnumber residents.

‘This is an old-fashioned town. The way life used to be,’ said Young, who is retired from the Glenn County road department and laughs about his first job, when he made 15 cents an hour pulling weeds for the local librarian.

‘We are slow-moving,’ added Vonasek, also a retired road worker.

Most residents still don’t like the idea of allowing men to marry men and women to marry women. Some residents say they don’t know any openly gay people, and others have trouble even saying the word ‘gay.’ One man called it being ‘of the homosexual persuasion.'”

And it goes on like this.

Like I said: not a conventional hit piece. And the journalist, Cecelia Vega, is gracious enough to let her subjects speak for themselves. However, the article is written from the perspective of someone who thinks she has just unearthed a strange archaeological relic, a potential museum artifact. Perhaps that is the result of knowing, and writing for, the Chronicle’s predominantly insular liberal readership. If you want to know what most Bay Area dwellers really think of Orland (and you don’t), read the comments (if you have a strong stomach).

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June 14, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

7 Comments »

  1. That piece really makes me want to move there.

    Like

    Comment by The Western Confucian | June 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. Just say the word, Joshua, and we’ll set you right up!

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 15, 2008 | Reply

  3. An interesting (i.e., exactly backwards) quote from one of the commenters:

    “People such as the ones described will never change their thinking about gay marriage. They are beholden to God and answer to *him* only. The only way to deal with this ignorance is to outnumber them at the polls come election day. We can also find comfort in the fact that they will little by little just die off.”

    This person hasn’t taken the long view of things. Does he or she really believe that proponents of gay marruage and, presumably, contraception, can afford to wait for those who disagree with them to “die off”? Aren’t we the demographic winners?

    Like

    Comment by Mike | June 18, 2008 | Reply

  4. Mike: I agree that we and our offspring are the demographic winners, but that doesn’t make us the cultural winners. The New Barbarians have captured all of our institutions, schools, and the media. They have been very successful at winning most young people to their pet causes. Each new generation of voters is more liberal than the last. Homeschooling families alone have a reasonable chance of passing their beliefs on to the next generation, but even these are fighting an uphill battle.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 18, 2008 | Reply

  5. So Orlanders are “odd” because they are “as far away as Middle America”? Well I guess the people around my parts are “odd” also- Being from Middle America- South East Indiana. It is a shame that the writer (and presumably the paper as weel) in San Fran has revealed this West Coast Bias so blatantly. This really lives up to the characture of the cultural bias against “Fly over Country”- which I guess includes all sane communities everywhere.

    I will now go Rejoice in my “backwardness” with my wife an six homeschooled children!

    Like

    Comment by Jeffrey Wilson | June 21, 2008 | Reply

  6. Whoa- hit the wrong button- typing too fast- and did not edit before posting- here is correct version:

    So Orlanders are “odd” because they are “as far away as Middle America”? Well I guess the people around my parts are “odd” also- Being from Middle America- South East Indiana. It is a shame that the writer (and presumably the paper as well) in San Fran has revealed this West Coast Bias so blatantly. This really lives up to the caricature of the cultural bias against “Fly over Country”- which I guess includes all sane communities everywhere.

    I will now go Rejoice in my “backwardness” with my wife an six homeschooled children!

    Like

    Comment by Jeffrey Wilson | June 21, 2008 | Reply

  7. Recently moved to Orland to improve the quality of life for my family; big mistake. The kids around this town are just not raised with any humility and its a town full of gossip and mean people. The teachers don’t listen to the students and the parents don’t correct there children. Everyone here is better than everyone else, its terrible. I have 3 straight A students and have never had any problems with previous schools my children attended. Now my kids are constantly ridiculed by bullies and mean people which this town is not in short of. What’s wrong with being nice and humble. The people around here act so tough but they are really weak and insecure. Orland is garbage and most of the people of Orland are garbage.

    Like

    Comment by T.G. | September 20, 2014 | Reply


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