Let me through something radical at you. Ready?
The best thing to ever happen to the LGBTQ+ community and Progressive America was the last election and the long-lasting consequences of its result.
What? You don't like open bigotry and Nazi wannabes parading in the streets while supposed mainstream conservative types applaud from the wings?
I don't blame you, but let's be honest here...this likely would have happened anyway from the ground up if Hillary had won, and we would likely be dealing with this current state of affairs starting in 2020 with a more competent occupant of the White House.
Perhaps we were handed a gift two years ago? We are now fully aware just how strong the side of hate truly is, and are now able to prepare better for that stronger candidate to come.
This is an LGBTQ+ publication so let's keep it relevant. More than a few of us are worried about the recent judicial appointments and how they might affect all of us. Now we know the current occupants of the White House have actually written a policy game plan to legally begin rolling back transgender rights. Will this actually happen? I doubt it. Would this crap stop at transgender people? My guess is that if they could actually pull this off...probably not.
Not too long ago I was given a polite education about the realities of Southern politics by a politician who is an open advocate of our community. He was blunt: anti-discrimination laws will never come from the state legislature. It will have to come from the feds, and more likely from the higher courts. There just isn't enough cover for the locals to do so without making the problem much worse in the short run (Governor Mae Beavers anyone?)
The Federal courts especially have been our lifeboat...not just for our community, but also for the politicians on both sides of the political spectrum who want to do the right thing by us without having their fingerprints on the means of doing so. It is far easier to allow a judge or a court of appeals to take the blame for rocking the prevailing social order. As a matter of fact, conservatives secretly love that! They can then use the judiciary as a foil for electioneering and fundraising in most cases.
Unfortunately, the dog caught the proverbial car two years ago. We will all have to deal with the mess the Tea Party types will leave on the courts over the next decade or two no matter what happens to the current occupant of the White House over the short run. Personally, I do not expect much of this to rise above nuisance level based upon current trends, but I have been wrong before. There are kids sitting in cages right now who rightly think what supposed adults in government have done to them is far more of an injustice indeed.
At the very least, this scenario should make us think and reflect. How important is our freedom to be ourselves, and how much is it truly worth to us? Are we willing to do what others have done to secure hard-won freedoms?
It is easy to say we would be willing to fight the (real) Nazis if they ever came back, but it's another thing to openly confront Injustice and evil within our own midst. I don't know about you, but some friends of mine before 2016 have become former friends because of the politics they have embraced. I really do not want to fight them; I want to help them cross over, but I am not as naive as I used to be.
Stonewall and the original Civil Rights movement were pushed in the streets by people not like me. This is something white progressive America, many of whom grew up comfortable in the suburbs while crime, drugs and AIDS took its toll close by is slowly coming to grips with.
Only now are people with my background learning this lesson: Freedom isn't free. You literally have to fight for it sometimes. Resistance and taking a real stand is very uncomfortable, and you can make enemies for life that way, but coming out is often uncomfortable too. The real freedom that comes from accepting and living your truth has it's truly heartbreaking moments, but you learn to live with those...and move forward.
Our community would not be anywhere near where we are today if we did not organize and take to the streets when necessary. We learned that important lesson from the African-American community, and that is why many traditional Civil Rights heroes have been adopted as our own heroes too. They went first...and we copied the playbook.
If we are going to share the heroes and a culture that has influenced and often protected LGBTQ+ people from day one, we need to help shoulder the burdens too. I think all lives matter, but too many African-American kids especially are dying out there for no good reason.
It's time for all of us in the Queer community to get involved in some way and help hold those responsible fully accountable. A police oversight board would be a good move, in my opinion, but even if that does not come to pass...there are other ways for us to show our true colours as loyal allies to those who have been loyal to us no matter the price.
Soon, we will rally and march against the latest threat the forces of backwardness and bigotry will use to mobilize their own base. Keep your chins up Tribe and stay proud. Keep an eye out for your sister and brother, for our allies fighting another good fight...and please say a prayer for the kids trapped in the desert.
I am proud to be truly “one of us” now. And I know we will prevail.
Julie Chase is an Out&About Nashville columnist. Graphic via The Daily Beast.