Before I delve too deep into this, I want to get something off of my chest. To quote Game of Thrones (because I’m a giant nerd), when it comes to being queer, I have been a sweet child of summer. My gay awaking didn’t happen until after Obama was elected. I didn’t have to suffer or face discrimination in the high school George W. Bush years. For the most part I’ve had it fairly easy. I was coming into my queer identity as Prop 8 was passed, but Marriage Equality had become a mainstream topic. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, hospital visitation rights were slowly being recognized. It felt like I was living in a Queer Renaissance. It wasn’t sunshine and rainbows the whole time, but it mostly felt almost mainstream to be queer in America.
And then in November, my rose color sunglasses were ripped off my face. In the back of my mind I knew that the gay utopia I was imagining was a farce, but it was still jarring having it ripped away so suddenly and violently. Since the election, so many women (shout out to Twitter) have taught me the lesson of how our existence is resistance. Existing in a world is powerful when people in power would rather see my destruction than my survival.
My fiance and I have always said ‘I love you’ to each other everyday, but after the election it’s felt different. That the words have absorbed extra power within it’s syllables. Every time I utter those three words to her it feels like I’m simultaneously shoving a middle finger in the air at everyone who dares to question and rally against our existence.
I will rage back at them with all of my fury.
I can exist, I can love my fiance, and I can be unabashedly queer. Sometimes that means wearing my rainbow scarf, or hanging my pride pins up at my office. As a reminder that I’m here and I’m queer. Obviously there are other things to be done besides existing and loving each other. There are going to be many battles to fight. But when I’m worn out and over ridden by all of the things going wrong, I know that there is at least one thing I can do that day that makes a difference.
Love is a powerful tool. Saying I love you is an act of rebellion.
Fred Phelps was excommunicated from the Westboro Baptists and died this past Thursday; it has been rumored that his excommunication stemmed from a change of heart about Westboro’s message. Whatever the reason, they are various opinions on how the LGBT* community should react to Fred Phelp’s recent passing. While some call or a celebration, I hope the queer community falls more in line with George Takei’s message:
“I take no solace or joy in this man’s passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding ‘God Hates Freds’ signs, tempting as it may be. He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.”
I know that the urge to dance on Fred Phelp’s metaphorical grave is extremely tempting. His group has been the face of hate throughout the United States. I attended a counter-protest of the Westboro Baptists at my Graduate school; Fred wasn’t there, but seeing the group across the street was enough to creep me out. While I don’t believe in Christianity, I do know that the Westboro Baptists do not reflect peace and love that is supposed to be central in the Christian faith.
We just have to be better people. As a non-profit / aid works, do we ever get sustainable positive gains through being vindictive and cruel? Without love of what we do, our passion would fizzle out or be corrupted. We became humanitarians to put good back into the world. We need to be better people in all of this. Being joyous about someone’s death only brings more hate into the world.
We don’t gain anything from hate. Yes, there might be some initial joy after mud-slinging, but after that where does that leave us? Our hate does not change what Fred Phelps or the Westboro Baptists have one, and I doubt it will change what they decide to do in the future.
We are not Fred Phelps. We are not the Westboro Baptists. We are loving, caring, passionate LGBT* individuals who help our local and global communities.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for what we put back into the world. Let’s choose love over hate.