There’s been a lot of ink spilled on the recent shooting that occurred at the Family Research Center compound. I won’t go into the specific details of the incident, but if you want to know more, click here. Suffice to say, before anyone knew anything about the shooter or his motivations, Tony Perkins of FRC got his Outrage-O-Meter to go into the red. He immediately blamed Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks right wing hate groups around the country, for the shooting; saying SPLC had given Corker a “license to kill” for having officially labeled FRC a hate group about two years ago. I urge you to read SPLC’s reply to this charge.
Suffice to say, now the double speak has started coming from more places than just the usual anti-gay groups. We need look no further than the likes of Dana Milibank in his WaPo column two days ago. He sides with FRC and National Organization for Marriage as saying that the hate group label used by SPLC is unwarranted because they’re a “mainstream Christian advocacy” group and shouldn’t be included in the same label as the KKK or Aryan Nations. I beg to differ. The hate group label is the only label that makes sense for a group like FRC.
Dana of course, is coming at this from a heterosexual perspective, so we couldn’t possibly ask him to *personally* understand what it feels like when “mainstream” Christian Advocacy groups say that pedophilia is a “homosexual problem” and that our goal as a community is to “abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order”. Or to know what it feels like when Pastors affiliated with these groups say gays “worthy of death”. Or to have one of these groups compare your relationship to fucking a horse. Or to have this same group compare you to a terrorist. Or when of these groups says you’re being “held captive” by Satan. Or when that same group suggests that “banning Homosexuality” should be taken into consideration. Or having that group endorse Conversion Therapy to “change” gays and lesbians to “normal” people. Or to have that same group endorse false research saying gays are a “public health threat“. I could go on, but at this point…. I don’t think there would be any point.
Now, I’ve linked to enumerable posts and articles and blogs showing you just what FRC and NOM think about us (more here and here). They’ve been saying these things about the LGBT community for years (if not decades). And since Dana seems to assume that in order to be labeling a group a “hate group”, that group must be out dragging gays behind trucks and firebombing LGBT Centers, let’s talk about what these kind of lies do to our community:
– The LGBT Community is 2 times more likely than any other group in the country to be a victim of a hate crime (source).
-LGBT Youth make up 5-10% of the general youth population, but 20-40% of homeless youth. Of those LGBT youth, 58% have been sexually abused compared to 33% of the heterosexual homeless youth (source).
-9 out of 10 LGBT Youth have experienced bullying at school; with almost 2/3 of those surveyed saying they feel/have felt unsafe in school due to their sexual orientation (source).
-Suicide is one of the leading causes of death of LGBT youth (source).
-The LGBT community is at higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse than the general population (source).
There are so many other soul crushing statistics one could link to, but the point of it is this: Anyone who thinks that the lies that groups like FRC spread *don’t* contribute to a climate in which there is an epidemic of bullying of LGBT youth, in which hate crimes against LGBT individuals are more likely than any other group and in which, due to the social isolation so many people in our community feel, LGBT individuals turn to drugs and alcohol more than others, is living in a fantasy world.
There’s this old cliche everyone knows, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. It’s bullshit. I think more and more people are coming to know it’s bullshit. Words can hurt. Words can leave mental scars deeper than any physical wound. And unlike a cut, a scrape or a bruise; the wounds you build up from those hurtful words can take years to recover from if ever. There’s no band-aid you can put on these scars. There’s no neosporin you can rub on to make the pain stop. It lives with you. That’s what these lies do. They create a place of fear, disdain and hatred. They create an atmosphere in which at one point in life someone like me thought the only way out was to not live anymore; and many more children will end up feeling the same way. They create an atmosphere where it’s acceptable for parents to disown their children for the “crime” of being who they are. They create an atmosphere where people undergo years of mental and physical torture in the misguided hope they can “change” who they are. They create an atmosphere where holding hands with your lover in the wrong area, or in front of the wrong person, can lead to a horrifying assault or even death.
We’ve lived under this cloud our whole lives. We know it better than Dana ever could. We know that even the simplest task, as a gay man, a trans* person, a lesbian woman or bisexual, can be life threatening. We know that our families and our relationships are treated as second class in too many corners of this earth. We’ve had friends get beaten and abused, try to kill themselves, get addicted to drugs, have their families throw them out on the streets…. all because of lies from the likes of FRC. This hate speech isn’t abstract to any of us; it never has been.
I challenge Dana to look at these facts, to read all the stories, to go down to an LGBT Center near him and talk to people in our community, and still say that these groups aren’t hate groups. I challenge him to look at us, in all our humanity, and tell us what we’ve faced and are still facing in our community, isn’t hate.