Have you ever been so enraged that you can’t see? It’s a kind of emotion that just takes over without warning and then everything goes black. Sometimes it’s the blink of an eye, others can last a few seconds.
It’s happened to me only about three or four times. The first was a shock. It was my senior year of high school while in a theatre class. We were all milling about as the class was ending and I was in a conversation with someone I felt I was really close to. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically she told me that although she loved me she was adamantly against me being around children because I was openly gay. Black out.
We weren’t best friends, but we were close enough for her to rewrite Olivia Newton John’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You” to “Hopelessly Devoted to Rick” and record it on a cassette tape for me. To her, I was a funny, goodtime that was toxic and detrimental to the health of children.
She couldn’t speak to anything specific, just that me simply being me would make children gay and that would be bad. It’s a flawed philosophy. If I could make someone gay simply by being gay and being around them, then why was I not straight for being brow beat my entire childhood with the “boys date girls” mentality? And trust me, at the time I would have done anything to be straight.
The truth is, you cannot make someone L, G, B, T or Q that isn’t already L, G, B, T or Q. End scene.
This has all been on my mind lately since my latest bout with a rage blackout on Nov. 21. I received a text message from a friend of mine. The text included a link to a GaysAgainstGroomers.com blog which the sender thought made good points called “Radicals Are Putting Our Community in Danger: Insight into the Colorado Springs Shooting.” I clicked it. Black out.
A few seconds later I was pacing my house reading what I considered to be far-right propaganda disguised as concern. Yes, I read the whole article because I am not amused by anyone who just reads the headline and forms an opinion. I usually wait 24 hours before responding to something I have such a strong reaction against, but this time I fired back immediately, “This is not something I want to be associated with… I am disgusted.”
I was asked if there was nothing I agreed with in it and ended the conversation. Partly because my mental well-being needed a break, but mostly because it is a complicated question.
You could ask me, “Do you believe in the sexualization of children?” I would of course say no. However, in the context of this article I would first have to agree that allowing children the freedom to express their identity or into a drag story hour is sexualizing them and I will not hold space for that. What I will say is that no one is sexualizing children in these spaces. To make these accusations is to sexualize children, which begs the questions, “Why are THEY sexualizing children?”
It’s gross. This whole notion of Gays Against Groomers is gross. Groomers don’t exist here. It’s an inane word far-right conservatives are using to normalize hatred and make it sound palatable; and if LGBTQ people think by saying they’re against groomers they’re somehow protected from being called a groomer by these far-right thinkers, they’re wrong. They are groomers to them and no better than the people they spew hate toward. End scene.
Too much of this groomer B.S. has been geared at trans youth and it bothers me. I just don’t understand where the hate comes from. The topic of trans and nonbinary communities came up a while ago at an LGBTQ softball tournament I was in. Someone from my team stood on the back of a pickup truck and yelled,
“Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. Period.” Knowing him I wasn’t all that shocked. I was surprised, though, by the people around me who said, “Yeah, I don’t get the trans thing.”
I’ve been bothered by that moment for some time and have tried to think of ways I can help combat this misjudgment. Recently, I was inspired by an interview I witnessed with Nikole Parker to work on ways Watermark could help. Now the content of that text message has pushed me to act.
Watermark hasn’t done enough to help the trans community. I hope we can change that. I am a believer in Harvey Milk’s philosophy that visibility is the key to acceptance. If people know us personally, it’s harder to hate us. It’s time we give the trans community that visibility. In every issue, Watermark will dedicate a page to a local trans person. Some you may know, but our plan is to focus on many you don’t. We will dive into what makes them human, their dreams and desires. My hope is that you will read all of them, and that you will see the human beings behind the word trans.
Visibili-T kicks off this issue with Watermark’s own Kyler Mills. He has been a creative designer at Watermark for over a year. His talent speaks for itself, and now he will speak for himself. The following issue we will talk to our newest employee, admin assistant Alec Perez. If you know of anyone in the trans community that would like to participate in this visibility project, please have them reach out to Watermark.
We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue