Sunday, November 08, 2015

Sex, Lies and Houston

Frank Bruni has a column in the New York Times that looks at the hate and bigotry, and most importantly, outright lies that triumphed in Houston last week.  What is chilling is the fact that the anti-gay forces utilized the same type of tactics used against Europe's Jews in the 1930's and during World War II.  Tactics that resorted to vicious lies and efforts to make Jews into "the other" and thus worth of discrimination and ultimately extermination.  Leading the anti-gay charge in Houston were, of course, the "godly folk" who have inflicted so much harm on so many over the centuries.  Here are excerpts from the column:
I USED to be a child molester. Not in actuality. In the popular imagination. In public debate.

That’s how gay men were once portrayed — not just as sexual deviants but as sexual prowlers, sexual predators, their eyes lecherously trained on the young, the vulnerable, the recruitable.
Hatemongers spread this slander to argue that we mustn’t be teachers, shouldn’t be coaches, couldn’t be trusted.

I flashed back on that when residents of Houston voted last week against an anti-discrimination law that did all sorts of unimpeachable things because it supposedly did one thing that scared the bejesus out of them: enabled men in dresses to sneak into women’s restrooms.
This specter was invented by opponents of the law, who were fixated on just a part of it: its inclusion of transgender people among blacks, gays and other classes protected from being fired or denied access to public accommodations because of their very identities.

And we’ll someday cringe about this, just as most Americans now cringe about the verbal garbage that was thrown at gay people, the lies that were told, the lies that were believed. I recently ran across some research that made reference to a 1970 survey in which 73.5 percent of Americans agreed that “homosexuals are dangerous as teachers or youth leaders because they try to get sexually involved with children” and 71.1 supported the statement that “homosexuals try to play sexually with children if they cannot get an adult partner.”

Transgender people indeed puzzle many others — including me. I readily admit that I can’t relate, not specifically, to the feeling of having a gender at odds with certain anatomical signifiers . . . .

But I’m not too myopic to see or too forgetful to remember that many of the straight people who now support and even fight for my equality and dignity understand me no better. They’ve never fallen in full-bloom love with someone of the same sex.

And I do relate to the awful, shameful, fury-making feeling of having who you are reduced to a caricature.

Don’t you? If you’re female or black or Latino or Jewish or Muslim, the likely answer is yes, and it compels you to look at what happened in Houston with sadness and a resolve that it not be repeated.

[T]ransgender people — and their bid for inclusion — were trivialized and cast aside. Either way, they’re experiencing a chill that they’ve known too long, a sting that they shouldn’t have to suffer, a slap that could be of life-or-death consequence for a teenager struggling to come to terms with his or her difference and questioning the warmth of the world.

And transgender people aren’t raising their voices and risking rejection by the voters of Houston for a mere lifestyle. They’re embracing something infinitely more profound than that.

We’ve come so far and yet not far enough. That’s one big lesson from Houston, which is going to cast a long shadow. It won’t be the last battleground on which the “bathroom myth,” as it has come to be known, is deployed.

I can see this myth creeping into the 2016 election, a weapon wielded against candidates who are trying only to be fair and decent.
I marvel at the cynical political calculations behind it. I wince at how densely packed with willful misunderstanding it is. I shudder at the license it gives to cruelty and at the wounds it inflicts. How slowly, and how uncertainly, will they heal?
We cannot let the merchants of hate prevail.  Years ago AmericaBlog had a great side by side comparison of the Christofascist lies against those made by the Nazis against Jews.  It was chilling.  Change the word "Jew" for "gay" and the wording was nearly identical.  Sadly, that page is no longer online.  Perhaps it needs to be brought back least we forget where the "godly folk" found their blue print for demonizing gays and those who are transgender.

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