Happy Pride! Queers have made extraordinary advances in society, though smear campaigns are always being waged against us in a nonstop attempt to rain battery acid on our parade. Some of these screeds have been around so long that we can lip-synch along with them, but Republicans have been repurposing and amping up the attacks, clearly threatened by the fact that LGBTQs have earned a place at the table and are even ordering dessert. For every step forward, the Repubs want to pander to the haters and bring us a giant step back to the pre-Stonewall days, when the only gay visibility was Snagglepuss cartoons.
Let me take you through 10 of today’s most egregious Republican verbal assaults on
LGBTQs, and answer them one by one, so we can rinse and then move on to the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow flag.
“So, you’re a woman? Can I decide that I’m Asian—or a dinosaur?”
No, you can’t just whimsically decide to be something you’re not. But if you are a woman, yes, you can live as a woman, and if you also happened to be born in a male body, you can transition. Got it? And now might be a good time to mention that your primary news source is obviously Fox News, whose idea of inclusivity is hiring Caitlyn Jenner, the one trans person in the media who appears to be against trans rights. I’m waiting for them to appoint Madison Cawthorn as their drag correspondent.
Gays are pedophiles.
Not by a long shot. The right-wing contention that gays are more likely than straights to be child molesters has been debunked over and over again. Yes, there are same-sex molesters, like onetime Florida congressman Mark Foley, ex-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and former Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey—all Republicans. But studies repeatedly show that the majority of men who molest boys are heterosexually oriented. Alas, none of this information has pervaded the hypocrisy-laden minds of the Tennessee GOP. They were just pushing a bill that eliminates all age requirements for marriage—as long as the marrieds are of the opposite sex, that is. Charming! One gets the sense that these people don’t really care about pedophilia, just about fear-mongering, while brazenly breaking their own rules. Miraculously, the bill stalled in April, thwarted by concerns about that lack of age requirements, but don’t worry—the homophobic part of it will come back like Michael Myers.
Gays indulge in initiation rituals.
Oh, yes. We round up kids to zhoosh them up with lip gloss, play them Lady Gaga songs, and teach them about Sondheim. And we get a toaster oven for every one we convert. Oh, please! No, we don’t do any such thing, though the religious right certainly tries to convert kids from birth, with all kinds of heaven-sent “teachings” and practices. I should know, since I was raised Catholic and am still traumatized by baptism, confession, mean nuns wielding rulers as weapons, and all those other scary rituals. The sanctimonious crowd has no problem putting kids through all that while claiming that gays are groomers, as if we can magically “turn someone gay.” It’s not a choice or something that can be induced—though being a hater definitely is.
We are protecting children!
No, you’re actually using them as props. Florida governor Ron DeSantis made sure to have his little daughter by his side as he signed an anti-trans bill in June of last year. The implication was clear: “This is what a real girl looks like.” Later on, he was surrounded by school kids holding “Protect the Children” posters as he signed Florida’s notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law. Of course, the law is supposed to be about protecting kids from hearing about sexuality, but there they are at the signing of a bill about sexuality! None of this is about protecting children, of course. It’s about making queerness—and any resulting pride—go back in the closet, in hopes that it will simply go away.
The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law is about all sexuality, not just gay.
Really? Then why did they shoot down Republican state senator Jeff Brandes, who bravely suggested adding just that to the bill? Brandes wanted it spelled out that the bill wouldn’t only marginalize queers—that it was about broader sexuality issues—but his suggestion was summarily laughed out of town by his party-mates. I strongly suspect that a female teacher who mentions that she has a boyfriend won’t be dragged away in handcuffs. Unless the boyfriend is trans, of course.
Being gay isn’t a choice—though being a hater is.
Disney has an agenda.
Well, they were slow on the uptake with their response to the Florida law, but they’ve now made it clear that they do indeed have an agenda—for inclusion. Demonic, no? And by the way, Mickey Mouse is polling higher than DeSantis, so it looks like Magic Kingdom Park has more pull than “the kingdom of heaven.” Increasingly, Americans have been repulsed by the “freedom of speech” party seeking political retribution against a corporation that dares to speak out against a bigoted law.
Queers are only 5% of the population, and should not be allowed to dictate what we do.
Actually, those who identify as LGBTQ represent 7.1% of the populace, according to a Gallup poll. Plus, there are a lot of people who aren’t out (partly because of bigots like yourself). And did you realize that most Americans are pro queer rights? (Last year, Gallup reported that a record-high 70% of Americans support same-sex marriage.) So, when you add up our community and our allies, it actually amounts to a deafening majority of the population. And the only thing we’re “dictating” is our need to get equal rights. Not privileges, but rights. As a popular meme says, “A privilege would be something like not paying taxes. Like churches don’t.”
The Bible condemns queers.
So what? If you really took the Bible seriously, you’d be stoning adulterers, like … Oh, you do the research. The point is, the Bible is not meant to be taken as a literal guide to how to live in 2022. If you unquestioningly obeyed all of its tenets, you’d quickly find yourself in jail and getting even more religious. Besides, many queers don’t happen to believe in the Bible, or in any religion at all—we have that freedom in America. Thanks to that—not to mention separation of church and state—“the good book” shouldn’t have any say in controlling our rights. If you personally believe in it and are dead set against gay marriage, then fine—don’t marry a gay!
Gays should be gay, they just shouldn’t flaunt it.
Aww, that is mighty big of you. You mean you’re OK with me being who I am, as long as I don’t say or do anything that refers to it? Sorry, no can do—unless you agree to the very same pact. Can you please not dress like a straight, stop pushing straight culture, and also stop talking about your wife/your girlfriend/your conquests/your husband/your dating attempts while high-fiving other straights? No? Well, sorry, then—let me tell you about Lady Gaga.
Gay men are actually girls.
So you do believe in transgender? ❖
Michael Musto has written for the Voice since 1984, best known for his outspoken column “La Dolce Musto.” He has penned four books, and is streaming in docs on Netflix, Hulu, Vice, and Showtime.