Conservatives, Closets, and the LGBTQ Agenda.
How unprovoked attacks on the LGBTQ community will ultimately make the lives of conservatives more stressful and traumatic.
On any given day I will scan the Internet for positive and promising stories regarding the LGBTQ community, what I usually find is an inordinate amount of hate, bias, grossly skewed facts, and outright lies. For probably every single positive article, I will find at least a dozen that are woefully negative. When I first came out, this hit me really hard; my counselor kept telling me to stop following the media. For me it was like I needed to know where the attacks were coming from, how they were framed, and how to respond when attacks levied by emboldened keyboard commandos would motivate their followers to turn virtual discord into real world insurrection. It created its own form of post traumatic stress, and seeking out this news was like choosing to relive that trauma.
I never really stopped reading the media, but I did slow down for a bit. It’s bothersome to see so much hate given a podium in a fight for equality where the LGBTQ community isn’t asking for anything other than to not be harassed, discriminated against, assaulted, or even murdered. You wouldn’t think that this would be such a tough sell, but the echo chamber says different. Even while people of color still struggle for equality, it seems as though the LGBTQ community is the “new hotness” when it comes to minorities to attack.
Some of the hate kicks back at me when I try to engage and educate people who seemingly choose to be ignorant; or at the very least self-righteously infalible. How dare I speak truth to an existence that I live everyday against the stereotypes and lies these people covet so strongly. How audacious am I to believe that I should be able to engage in civil and intellectual parlance against those whose sole intent is to diminish, demoralize, and dehumanize me, and others of similar circumstance?
It has become rather apparent that one is deprived of a voice when others — with nothing to lose — speak louder. This is the cornerstone of their platform. I’ve even witnessed long and educated retorts completely deleted in order to maintain the dominance of the published propaganda. So, I’ve started to take a read-between-the-lines approach to the negative news and comments. What’s being said, is what’s conveniently being left unsaid; and rightfully so because it’s becoming apparent to me, that the most angry and outspoken Transphobic/Homophobic people are really trying hard not to hate us, so much facilitate their own denial regarding who they truly are. This is something I can legitimately relate to.
When I wrote “Fearless and Unapologetic” I spoke out about behaviours which, while nowhere near as heinous as what we see in the online hate-rags, were indicative of my own predilection to deride people who were LGBTQ. I saw anyone who was “out” as someone I secretly envied because I knew exactly what my own feelings were about wanting to live openly. I wasn’t always nice, and I think that speaks volumes about how one resists becoming who they know they really are. Simply put, if you hate people for being “out” there’s a strong possibility it’s because you are actually like them. There is an envy about those people because they’ve stopped succumbing to the very fear that conservatives try to instill in order to dictate the whole course of their lives. A free spirit is one that cannot be controlled.
There was a turning point in my life when I came to understand my own behaviour and thusly sought a course correction. In early 2000 I had a bit of what I would consider a spiritual awakening. I’d fallen into the Episcopal Church with more fervor than I ever thought possible. While that faith was amusingly described by Robin Williams as “Catholicism lite; all the sin and none of the guilt”, I eventually came to realize that even in religiously liberal faiths there was division. Moreover, I began to feel groomed to promote that division. I took great issue with this, as the verse I clinged to was Matthew 7:3; “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye.” It seemed apparent that I had no place in a faith that (even subtly) supported judgement. As a fallible human, I will never be free of casting judgement, so I couldn’t resign myself to acting holier-than-thou while being a total hypocrite.
I was being nudged by a divine force to figure out exactly who I was.
As my connection with church began to wind down, I was struck with the most unusual impulse. While in the middle of my workshift I felt what I believe was God speaking to me. The command was to move, and the location was specific; Hawaii. Within about the span of two months, I’d liquidated my immovable assets, packed up what I could, and went to live on the Big Island; which I deemed the intended location because it’s the one island in the chain that is specifically called “Hawaii.” How many people would follow a whimsical religious influence only to leave behind all their friends and family to start anew? It was crazy, and while I don’t hold onto religion as I once did, I now see that I was being nudged by a divine force to figure out exactly who I was.
In the time I spent there I began a path of self-discovery that would eventually lead to my transition, but even then I wouldn’t have ever dreamed that this journey would lead to this destination. I became bolder in my pursuit of my own sexual understanding. I experimented with toys, I changed my style of underwear, and even began to entertain the idea of dating people who weren’t stuck in a Cishet binary.
In retrospect the move was like a deep cleanse of the people and ideologies that would have prohibited, or at the very least, inhibited my own self-discovery and understanding. So, if I was this person all along, what prevented me from cutting-to-the-chase, and admitting that I identifiied as LGBTQ from as early as six year old?
Firstly I need to consider the era in which I grew up in. This was during the midst of the AIDS crisis. Barely anyone knew what was going on; it had been projected that AIDS is strictly a homosexual epidemic, and the negative stereotype surrounding that did nothing to facilitate my exit from my closet. If anything, stories like that of Ryan White — a boy who contracted HIV by means of a blood transfusion — gave me plenty of reason to reconsider opening up about my sense of self. The boy, while not homosexual, was demonized and tormented for having a disease that was — at the time — seemingly exclusive to the gay community. That sent a powerful message about how I must never be “out.”
Secondly, there was the religiously reinforced idea of homosexuality as a sin and how it destined one to eternal damnation. Even though at that time in my life, I didn’t have regular church attendance, I still felt like if I opened up about who I was then; I must fear for my soul. That’s some powerful brainwashing. When you are fed this control scheme at such a young age, it has a shame building dichotomy that — in my opinion — tends to lead to more matters of mental instability later in life.
Thirdly, I had no strong understanding of how my family and friends would react to me coming out. Who would I lose, who would harass, and who would brandish their religion for the sake of the very condemnation I just mentioned. It cannot be overstated that the most prevailing concern within any closet-dweller is who and what they stand to lose when, and if, they stop hiding their truth. For youth this is particularly troubling because admitting one is LGBTQ while still under guardianship can, and often does, lead to homelessness.
The consequences of choosing the safety of the closet now begin to bear the sourest fruit. From the outside one can be perceived as a completely straight-laced individual, but what’s going on inside is far from stable.
Mental instability becomes a factor when one beings to engage in behaviours that are intended to compensate for an inability to fully identify. Addictions come into play, self-harm, ideations, violent outbursts, spousal abuse, and the projection of the vilifying hatred that built up one’s own closet becomes common place. The latter is a key in the read-between-the-lines dialog I’m seeing churn within the media.
I personally feel assured that an individual is completely straight when my existence does not appear threatening to them.
As we begin to deconstruct violence against the LGBTQ community, we often see a pattern of anger that’s reflective of how our existence makes others consider their own. Trans and Gay panic have been shamefully utilized as legal defenses, but these are pathetic attempts at deflecting one's own sense of self. I personally feel assured that an individual is completely straight when my existence does not appear threatening to them.
Those who see me as completely worthy of equality and the same dignity they enjoy are so secure in their own being that I needn’t fear them. It’s those who become uneasy in my presence that are the biggest threat to me. They’re struggling to understand that my feminine presentation has triggered an emotion within themselves that forces them to question their own sexuality or gender identity. The presumption those individuals most likely draw in this circumstance is that finding an LGBTQ person attractive means they aren’t 100% honest about who they are; and here’s where things get ugly.
When someone is feeling uncomfortable about their own self-identity they are more apt to lash out at the person or group that creates these very feelings within them. As I said, I know someone is totally straight when my existence and equality does not bother them. So not only do we see reports of violence directed against the community, but the media begins to spin more and more negativity against the community as it’s visibility gains traction. This is done to reinforce the destructive forces that put those individuals in their closet. The notion being; If I can shame these “out” people into hiding, it’ll be easier for me to continue to keep my own self-identity at bay.
This naturally leads me to understand that the critics of the LGBTQ community are actually no different than I was at one time. They’re scared of revealing their truth for all the same reasons that kept me in the closet for far too long. And what consequences did I suffer as a result of my hiding?
The worst thing I lost by coming out was time.
Truth be told, by the time I came out I was prepared to lose everything. I couldn’t keep my sense of self contained anymore. By that point I had already dealt with a host of addictions; food, video games, alcohol, sex, etc… It was time to yank the proverbial table cloth off my table of life and see what was left standing when all my truth was laid bare. Shockingly I didn’t lose much — if any — family or friends. If anything, more of them have opted to connect with me. The worst thing I lost by coming out was time.
I was left lamenting that I didn’t transition sooner, and the harm that delaying this revelation did to so many people I cared about. These are the laments I wrote about in Collateral Damage. But this fact is telling all by itself; it brings home certitude that the fear drummed up over all these years literally cost me half of my life. That prison was forged in the shame and stigma churned from within conservative media and religious fountains. Whether you buy into it by subscription or subtlety, these inferred damnations are part of a sophisticated control scheme that is designed not only to keep the LGBTQ community in-check, but also to buttress the leanings of those pushing these messages. It’s self-serving hate.
This circles back to a matter that is at the very core of conservative protestations; freedom. It’s woefully apparent that those in these groups have a very skewed view of what freedom really looks like. While actively denouncing what they deem are tyrannous government policies, they actively pursue tyrannous policies to maintain control over what a person can do with their own body, who they can love, and who they can marry.
According to GLAAD; during the course of our current political administration the LGBTQ community has been attacked 124 times since our current president took office; the most recent of which was the proclamation that it should be legal to fire a person for simply being LGBTQ.
When religiously inspired forms of shame fail to allow for the majority to control the lives of a minority, they rewrite the rules such that control is maintained by allowing government sanctioned poverty.
Assuming this administration could actually circumvent existing and established law to allow LGBTQ people to be terminated from employment, then what we’re actually witnessing is and attempt to subjugate ones freedom by forcing those individuals back into their closets. When religiously inspired forms of shame fail to allow for the majority to control the lives of a minority, they rewrite the rules such that control is maintained by allowing government sanctioned poverty. From there the community would have only one direction to go; down. This of course is the very basis of my piece entitled The Subtle Legalized Genocide of the Transgender Community.
The Subtle Legalized Genocide of the Transgender Community
NOTE: This piece was originally submitted as an Op-Ed to the New York Times, but was passed over for publication…
It can sound odd to be viewing this hate as a read-between-the-line situation, but it’s not unlike a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. The individuals who propagate LGBTQ hate within the media will denounce and deny the sovereignty of this community, while they themselves would have absolutely no tolerance for someone imposing such restrictions on their own lives. They do this to support a system that they feel will help them keep their own feelings about their sexuality or gender identity in-check.
…the closet you’re in just got more fortified, and the air is growing acrid.
Since my online detractors tend to talk over me, I’m just going to say this here. Anyone who is terrified of allowing LGBTQ people to have equal rights is a bigger closet case than I ever was. You can try to pass any legislation you want in a hamfisted attempt to try and control me, but at least I will still be free. As you strive to make my life Hell, you will come to learn that the closet you’re in just got more fortified, and the air is growing acrid. When you come to realize that the hate you’ve self-righteously justified and promoted is actually killing you, I’ll still be here waiting to help you.
No one belongs in a closet; not even my haters.
Kira Wertz (she/her) is a married Transgender woman who openly identifies as pansexual. She is a top writer in LGBTQ for Medium, Editor of The Transition Transmission, and Professional Truck Driver. Kira is a strong advocate for Transgender rights, especially the rights of Transgender youth; she is a public speaker, panelist, and can often be found helping her local Transgender community. You can connect with Kira on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.