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The recent debate online about our decision to run a Gay pride story on the front page of the newspaper conjured up some memories for me.
The newspaper industry used to celebrate a week every year in May called Time out for Diversity and Accuracy. The project's goal  was to get newspapers thinking and focusing on diversity. Participating newspapers performed projects and reported back.
One year, I solicited volunteers at my Colorado newspaper to do a project. Our goal was simple: To do something that would take us out of our comfort zones and then write a first-person account on the experience. I chose to spend a night at a gay bar. A couple of people spent time in the local jail. One went to church for the first time in many years. Current Advocate editor, Chris Cobler, then the editor of our Colorado paper, waited tables at a restaurant for the first time in his life.
But back to the gay bar ....
I must admit, I didn't go by myself. I coerced another co-worker to go with me. The experience definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I had preconceived notions that ultimately proved false. Basically, everyone was pretty cool.
And that brings us back to point on the Gay pride festival. I'd challenge those people who squirm at the idea to take themselves out of their comfort zone and attend the festival.
You just never know what you might learn.