Happy Pride Everyone!

Joe and John ThorntonI am eternally grateful that our society has progressed to a point where my lovely husband and I can live our life together mostly unbothered and accepted.  Being gay and ignored, let alone accepted, was more than I could have hoped for when I was young.  Unfortunately, the latest round of hate and bigotry is gathering steam and targeting our trans siblings using the same unimaginative slurs and slander.  It’s garbage and must be called out as such at every opportunity. Below is a letter to the editor I sent to our local paper, it was printed May 8, 2023.

I have been a subscriber and occasional advertiser to the Vindicator for many years. I appreciate the local news and perspective. While I may disagree with some of the commentary and my perceived bias, I continue to support my local reporting.

I rarely spend much time on the Opinion page, but the May 9th headline, “US unites against trans agenda” jumped out at me. Unfortunately I ready the accompanying article and found it just as bigoted and self-righteous as the headline foretold.

tumblr 73975cf1e9dac0d3b1266f4568d24471 301ff514 1280I’m a 47 year old gay man who remembers quite clearly the headlines warning about the “gay agenda.” I remember the way those headlines and articles shaped public opinion and the opinions of friends and family during the 80s and 90s. I lost friends and family to the dangerous bigotry that writing engendered. I saw members of my community attacked in the media, in politics, and on the streets by righteous people who believed their violence was justified.

While many people have since become allies and conveniently forgotten outdated opinions, damage was done and lives were lost.

Thought leaders and trusted institutions have tremendous power to shape legislation and move the hearts and minds of politicians, if only because of the swaying of their pole numbers. When voices of bigotry are elevated legislation follows. Gay panic laws, many of which are still on the books, made it easier and safer for bigots to target us with 0violence and get away with their violent attacks. Targeted laws against the LGBTQ+ not only continue to this day, but are escalating.

Public opinion is shaped by the voices local media organizations choose to elevate. Local media is still the most trusted source of media in our country, and newspapers hold a special place in the hearts of many people. When you give an uncritical space to articles and opinions like Erick Ericksons’ you are giving aid and comfort to those using prejudice to shape public opinion.

It is incumbent for all those in positions of power and influence to protect the most vulnerable. What is power for if not to defend those in need of protection? We must remember the lessons of the past and not allow hatred, bigotry and discrimination into our discourse. Progress for the powerless is usually written in blood. It doesn’t have to be, and while the ark of history bends toward justice, wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t require so much suffering.