Some say we should not talk politics immediately after national tragedies. I say, let’s. This is exactly the time to talk about it, before our attention spans go on to something else, before the news cycle turns to whatever nonsense dominated before 49 people were killed in Orlando.
Sorry, but I’m mad. I’m mad that people I love worry even more now about where they go, what they do, what they say, who they’re seen with. I’m mad that before the Orlando shooting, the LGBT community had enough to worry about – despite hard-fought cultural and political advances – with the likes of the 200-plus anti-LGBT bills brought forth in 34 states this year.
And though their concern may be genuine, I’m mad about the hypocrisy coming from the right praying for gay victims and their families or feigning support for LGBT Americans.
Bigotry is a funny thing these days. Conservative politicians and their devout followers shroud their hate and disdain for the LGBT community under veils of “religious freedom” or protecting the sanctity of marriage (pshh) or telling others which bathroom they should use. They talk about queerness being a choice (because, you know, they all chose their heterosexuality at a young age), and they pat themselves on the back for being “tolerant.” Most conservatives seem to think that if they are not the ones murdering homosexuals, then they’re off the hook. And they are wrong.
For decades, a political and cultural war has waged against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, drumming up contempt, fear and hate, championing laws that blatantly discriminate. And in the sickest of ironies, social conservatives have painted already-targeted and scorned LGBT as villains, perverts and child molesters coming to indoctrinate your children with their fabulous gay agenda.
At best they have made intolerance and hatred of the LGBT community acceptable, and at worst, encouraged.
Think of it in terms Republicans might be familiar with: Trickle-down hate. It starts at the top with high-profile politicians, pundits and religious leaders dog-whistling their disapproval of gay people through veiled legislation and talking points, which gives the otherwise-kind the green light to mildly rebuke. But this creates an environment that gives serious hate – the kind that killed 49 people in Orlando – a place to incubate, a culture where overt anger, disdain and violence comes to fruition on the fringes, where one person expresses his contempt by refusing to bake a cake for two queers-in-love, while another expresses it through fists or weapons. One is perpetuated by a deranged few and the other by millions, often the religious justifying their anti-religious behavior with cherry-picked holy verses. And it all adds up.
If you’re religious and think being nice to gay people is in conflict with your beliefs, please reread the religious text you hold dear, as there are many more options for people to drop the abomination bomb on (and, actually, you’re probably an abomination yourself, you pork-eating, non-beard-wearing, mixed-textile-wearing heathen).
Ultimately, I hope this will be an opportunity for the conscionable to stop the tacit bigotry, where we all embrace each other as Americans and humans without conditions and religious justifications. We must make it unacceptable for those who say they stand for freedom, yet at the same time try to deny basic freedoms for groups of people they’ve labeled as the other, sinners and second-class citizens, whether they be immigrants, homosexuals, Muslims or whoever is next on the list, because there will always be someone new to rebuke. Demagogues like Donald Trump will make sure of it.
Bigotry is bigotry. Hate is hate. And the only thing that will stop all of it is empathy, love and compassion. Let us all start today and do better for the love of God.