On Saturday June 19, 2021, I attended the Doylestown Pride Event at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and joined numerous others of all skin hues, body types, gender identities, and sexual orientations in celebrating the right to love by singing, dancing, and hugging (yes, this Hugmobster Armed With Love was back out there, fully vaccinated, embracing other willing humans).
A few minutes after I arrived, a small group of protestors, wielding their signs and spewing hateful rhetoric, approached and, for at least an hour, kept up their rant. No one was spared their venom as they were equal opportunity insulters. Homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist, body-shaming, sex-shaming. What I was most appalled at was when, multiple times, they dared people there to kill themselves since they claimed that God hates them anyway.
Considering the numbers of people in the LGBTQ+ community who do that, it bordered on criminal. According to The Trevor Project, “9.0% of LGBTQ youth ages 13–18 and 8.3% of LGBTQ youth ages 19–24 reported attempting suicide in the past year.”
When, I wonder, do people’s First Amendment rights cease if what they say incites suicide? As a psychotherapist, it is an all-too-familiar dynamic for me. I wanted to reach out to calmly remind them that the God they profess to believe in and the Savior they claim to follow is about love and not hate. I wanted to ask what happened in their lives that had them living in opposition to the word of God. Another hat I wear is that of an ordained Interfaith Minister. Nowhere in my schooling was there any indication that these beliefs are acceptable. I thought of asking them, “Who would Jesus hate?”
At one point, the minister of the church came over with a banner and several of us took turns holding it in front of the protestors, proclaiming a powerful message of love to counter the hate. We belted out songs to prove that love is louder including “Build Me Up Buttercup,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “YMCA” (complete with dance moves).
As always, I am impressed by the youth in our community who stand up to bullying, in this case, by waving rainbow flags, blowing bubbles, singing, and dancing in the face of hatred. Their courage inspires me. I want to protect them from this bigotry but know that I can’t. What I do know is that we all need to stand together, whether we identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally.
As the day was winding to a close, the wind picked up and a light rain fell. I wondered how each group would interpret the celestial intervention. They might have seen it as retribution. I saw it as renewal and refreshment since it had been a beamingly hot and sunny day and a feeling of washing away the odious ooze splattered in the name of One who came to share love.
In 2014, I wrote a piece called The Ying and Yang of Being Gay or Straight. In it, I tell the story of being referred to as “butch,” not a term that would come to mind when people meet me. At the time, I had short cropped hair and wore very little makeup. Never have I thought of myself as butch. That evoked an immediate image of a woman who thought she had to be like a man to be with another woman—someone who was tough and gritty. I have met women who proudly wear that identity, so I am not judging them for it. It just didn’t feel like a fit for me.
I then queried a few friends and some replied they would never in a million years consider me butch while others paused and said that I sometimes was more yang than yin, more go-getter than receptive, more masculine in my approach to life than feminine. These are traits that I have developed over the years as a means of rebounding after a series of losses and challenges. I tell myself that wearing what my husband used to call “girl clothes” and makeup allows me to come across as being feminine. I strive for a balance, what I think of as being “fluid; not pinned down to any particular polarity.”
Nine years and many hair lengths later, I present as feminine. I am no less powerful, no less assertive, but ain’t no way someone would refer to me as butch.
When I think about what I now consider a gender and sexuality matrix, rather than polarity, I am a cis-gender female who has had relationships with both women and men over the years. At the time of this writing, I am single. Should I find myself in a relationship again, I have no clue what the gender of my partner will be. I’m cool with that. I say that it is about the person, not the plumbing.
I am an outspoken activist when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. I have attended rallies and vigils. I show up at Pride Fests with my arms open, Hugmobsters Armed With Love FREE HUGS sign and sometimes FREE MOM HUGS T-shirt on.
In my community, there has been a tremendous threat to some students and teachers who stand by them. Policy 321 passed with the majority conservative school board with six members voting for it and three members voting against it, see it as a way of creating a non-political, neutral learning environment. What it really means is that it removes the sense of safety for LGBTQ+ students when Pride flags are not to be displayed and teachers are stifled with regard to what they can talk about in the classroom, so as not to be “indoctrinating” students with their agenda. As if that doesn’t happen in the heteronormative culture in which we live. Many in the area joined the teachers and students in speaking out. I am part of a Facebook group that is approaching local businesses and asking them to display a rainbow flag and poster that expresses their support. Most have said yes.
I am particularly impressed with the students who are far more outspoken and confident than I was at that stage in my life. They have become local celebrities. I am delighted that I know some of them and their parents.
A disturbing event that relates to the travesty of 321 occurred last month as a librarian at one of the high schools was told to remove this quote from the door of the library:
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” ~ Elie Wiesel
The quote is from “Night,” which is an approved textbook for 9th graders.
As a result of community protest, the sign was put back.
I wrote this piece called Do You Care About Social Justice? back in 2021 that contains the Elie Wiesel quote.
A powerful video came into my awareness a few years back speaks volumes about what the world would be like if being Gay was the norm and straight was the aberration.
Over the past few days, I have been pondering a new term to replace homophobia and transphobia. It isn’t fear of Gay or Transgender people that some profess. It is hatred, clear and simple, whether justified with religious dogma or pure disdain. I decided to explore the Latin and Greek word for hatred. What I came up with were these:
>> Greek for hatred is misos Homo-misos or Trans-misos
>> Latin for hatred is odium Homo-odium or Trans-odium
I welcome your ideas as well.
Remember, Pride is not political.
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