Prism & Pen
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Prism & Pen

The Joy of Gratuitous Cruelty in the Sickness of Homophobia/Transphobia

The people who seek to do us harm are far more damaged than we are.

Photo by Mark Stoop on Unsplash

In the current environment of backlash against LGBTQ+ acceptance in society, new reports appear every day of atrocities committed against the queer community, hateful rhetoric directed against us, laws proposed or enacted to delegitimize our existence. Just today, for example, I have read about Jordan Peterson’s hurtful words regarding Elliot Page, Alabama invoking SCOTUS’ overruling of Roe v Wade to justify denial of gender-affirming healthcare to transgender youth, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s intention to regulate sexual practices of consenting adults, giving new life to ancient anti-sodomy laws.

The people doing these things almost always are able to articulate some rationale; and equally often the rationale is easily refuted. The rationale varies according to circumstance, but one simple, common truth stands out in every case: the pure, unprovoked, gratuitous cruelty of the actions and words. This is pulling-the-wings-off-a-butterfly cruelty — without reason, done for its own sake, because it feels good to a bent or broken mind.

There is little hope of reaching such people with a message of love and compassion, though this does sometimes happen. But I would ask them, if I could, “Is this really the sort of society you want to live in? A world filled with unnecessary pain, pain that could be avoided simply by your doing nothing?

Wouldn’t it be nicer to live in a world with a little bit less crying?”

That’s really all that should need to be said.

Because at the heart of every homophobic or transphobic argument is the simple proposition, “I hate you. If you exist, I will hurt you if I can.” What kind of person wants to live in such an atmosphere of hate?

LGBTQ+ people often struggle with mental health issues, most of them resulting from a grievous struggle against the hostility directed at us. It is important for us to remind ourselves from time to time that the people who seek to do us harm are far more damaged than we are. We are not the perverts, the danger to children, the people working to undermine the healthy functioning of society; they are.

They, not some abstract bogeyman, but actual people who beat us, kill us, restrict our ordinary freedoms, seek to outlaw us. They are not well; they are a danger to society; they are morally compromised.

Let us always remember it, and not be shy to point it out.

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