Monday, June 13, 2016

I'm With You

My deepest sympathies for the victims of this past weekend's shooting in Orlando, as well as for their friends and their families - chosen and biological - during this difficult time.

I've been going to Pride Parades for about 15 years now.  At every single one, the possibility of a mass shooting occurring has crossed my mind.  This is not because shootings at LGBT events are common, but because I've often felt so hated that violence always seems like a possibility whenever the public knows groups of LGBT people might be congregating together.

In some ways, gay bars and clubs have been sanctuaries for many within the LGBT community. They're where I've met friends when I've moved to new cities. They're where many of us have felt safe to be with romantic partners in a society where, in many places, we still can't or don't openly even hold hands with each other. When traveling, my partner and I often make a point to take at least one trip to a local gay bar just to get in touch with "our people."

I started this blog in 2007, when an anti-LGBT element within the blogosphere was particularly ramped-up about California's anti-equality Proposition 8.  A network of rightwing bloggers calling themselves the "Digital Network Army," dedicated their blog presences to vilifying LGBT people and trying to get anti-LGBT laws passed.

I began directly countering these bloggers, both here and at their blogs. Within a couple months, I received my first rape threat and, later, encouragement to commit suicide.

Many of these bigot blogs have since petered out, likely as people realized marriage equality has no bearing on their lives. But, the attacks on LGBT people and our rights have not stopped, even with our marriage equality victory.

Hatred of LGBT people is still a very real thing.

It will always be a real thing as long as people believe they are under attack for having to live in a society that treats LGBT people decently and equally.

When mainstream politicians and Presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee attend a forum held by an anti-gay pastor who believes gays should be put death, we are threatened.

When the Human Rights Campaign is currently tracking about 200 anti-LGBT bills in the US, including a wave of anti-trans bathroom bills and bills designed to give Christians special rights to discriminate against us, we are threatened.

When religious men with relatively large platforms like Rod Dreher rage against the "berserk" "cultural left" that supports "transgenders," effectively giving cover to their readership to do the same, we are threatened.

I don't know what more to say, really.

We live in a society where many of the same people who are full of "thoughts and prayers" for victims of violence, will the very next day express their disgust at trigger warnings, safe spaces, and any other "politically correct" mechanism vulnerable people try to assert to keep themselves safe.

We've been saying for decades that anti-LGBT rhetoric is hurtful and can cause real-world hate crimes and violence. Psychological groups insist that homosexuality is not a disorder, and so many people continue to insist otherwise. They want to deny us children, or take away our children. They know literally nothing about gender identity, but they defame transgender people as "crazy" or "selfish."

But, most of all, what those who utter such rhetoric know with 100% certainty is that any harm LGBT people experience is 100% not their fault.

Well, I see you, bigots.  I've seen you for years. You don't fool me and you don't fool many other people.

To the LGBT community: I stand with you. In fear, anger, pride, courage, and determination, we grieve and we vow to carry on.

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