Christian Right Bigots Destroyed LGBT Lives for Decades: Now They Claim to be Victims?
As a gay man, I admit that I am enthused and encouraged by what I see as a more LGBT-inclusive American society. While we still have some kinks to work out, I am happy with our progress. Just a decade ago, we weren't talking about LGBT issues as openly as we are now. We have more public figures who are out from the get-go, rather than coming out after long rumors and speculation. And marriage equality is closer to becoming a 50-state reality sooner than some of us ever realized (fingers crossed).
Yet I am nagged by something. There is a brazenly dishonest new tactic emanating from the anti-gay right which must be called out on a larger scale. That lie is the idea that somehow the progression of marriage equality and popularity of the LGBT community is suddenly making them isolated and derided for supposedly simply stating their opinions. The LGBT community is being portrayed as bullies seeking to shut anti-gay figures down and deride them for speaking against marriage equality and LGBT equality. It's a skilled talking point helped along by think-tank finances, intellectuals paid by these finances, and a "news" network which mistakes omitted information, one-sided interviews and sloppy journalism as conservative opinion and ideology.
Almost weekly, we read or hear about anecdotal incidents drudged up by Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council, Ryan T. Anderson and the Heritage Foundation, or Fox News personality Todd Starnes about supposed innocent Christians who are besieged by aggressive gays. Often the incidents are over-hyped, biased and without the nuance we should demand from journalism.
The anti-gay right seems to be painting a portrait of victimhood in anticipation of further progress by the LGBT community and the goal is most likely to stop this progress. But I have one question: how can anyone forget how we got to this point?
For decades, anti-gay organizations and their supporters have portrayed the LGBT community as child molesting, diseased, sexually aggressive miscreants whose sole desire is to cause chaos before being sent to the lower pits of hell after we die for our supposed sins. Through lies, distortions and bad science, anti-gay groups made it difficult for laws to be passed to protect our interests, health and families. They created and repeated ad nauseam the false mantra that we are a "public health hazard" and our lives are fraught with pain, sadness, loneliness, and early death.
But suddenly, anti-gay groups are attempting to rewrite the so-called culture war. They want the world to forget all of the ignorance they exploited, the lies they told and the tactics they undertook to dehumanize the LGBT community.
They want us to forget the times when folks like Anita Bryant accused LGBTs of "recruiting" children to "refreshen" our ranks.
They want us to forget the officials in the Reagan administration who kept the president from adequately addressing the AIDS crisis in its early days.
They want us to forget the names and faces of people whose lives were destroyed by homophobic violence or suicide most likely spurred on by the nods of societal homophobia.
They want us to forget all of the times when we fearfully hid in the closets, while being attacked by purveyors of junk science during congressional hearings or had the quality of our lives reduced to fevered sexual fantasies on a day-to-day basis.
And most of all, they want us to forget that all of this was done either directly by them or through their tacit approval.
Sorry guys, you are not victims. You never were. You can't pretend these things didn't happen. You can't pretend that somehow where we are now when it comes to LGBT equality just happened in a vacuum. I don't expect any of you to atone, but at the very least, you need to acknowledge. Because you can't escape the truth.
Don't mistake my words as some sort of call to violence or isolation against you. It's just that I'm hip to the game you're running. So play this game as long as you can, because sooner or later, all games must come to an end. And when this game ends, you will be the loser. LGBTs don't forget and we don't let others forget, either.