I have tinnitus, which, according to the technician who did my hearing test, is pronounced TIN-uh-TIS rather than the more commonly heard ti-NI-tis. But no matter how you pronounce it I can assure you: it sucks.
It occurs to me that this high-pitched, grating, and never-ceasing noise in my head is basically the perfect soundtrack as I read through story after story about the wave of Republicans’ anti-LGBTQ+ bulls*** sweeping the nation.
Everything old is new again, as the saying goes. And these days, just like high-waisted jeans, being anti-LGBTQ+ is very fashionable among the right.
Or, at least, it is among a group of people who believe that because they are the loudest, they are the majority. But they aren’t. And it’s important to remember that.
Unfortunately, it’s also important to remember that a disproportionate number of these creeps are in positions of power. Lawmakers can (and do) make anti-LGBTQ+ policy, and judges use their power to adjudicate in ways that hurt LGBTQ+ people and their families.
The system has, unfortunately, been rigged against us for, well, ever. Despite this, LGBTQ+ people have made great gains in my lifetime. Being able to legally marry my wife and also be on her health insurance, for example, was life changing for both of us (but especially for me since I had cancer and was about to lose my insurance).
But the hate still haunts us. It’s damaging to be labeled a pervert and a danger to children. That’s a falsehood that has always been used to make people afraid of gays, and while it never went away, it’s rearing its ugly head with a vengeance, now with an added helping of transphobia.
Republicans claim that LGBTQ+ people and allies are “grooming” kids to be LGBTQ+. To even mention your pronouns or mention that you are in something other than a heterosexual relationship is harmful to kids, they say. They want everyone to believe that there is a scary transgender person behind every public restroom door and a radical lesbian teaching every science class and that our kids are in danger.
And it’s true. Our kids are in danger. But not from LGBTQ+ people.
Gun violence, suicide, depression, car accidents, addiction, homelessness, abuse of all kinds. These are very real things that very real kids are experiencing right now and that we could do something about. So long as there is one kid who needs but is unable to access mental health treatment, so long as there is one kid who can’t sleep because the shelter is too loud and their stomach is rumbling, so long as there are kids who are bouncing around from foster home to foster home, every single person pushing anti-trans athlete bills or trying to erase the mention of LGBTQ+ people in schools should be ashamed.
All of those above issues, by the way, are things that only Democrats care to address. Democrats who are painted by a not insignificant portion of the Republican party as literal pedophiles who kill babies and drink their blood. Seriously.
Believe it or not, there was a time in our country when Republicans actually engaged in serious, substantive arguments rather than simply resorting to calling their detractors pedophiles. That party is over, I’m afraid. Today’s Republican party is home to Q-Anon conspiracy theorists, racists, right-wing Christians and gun nuts who believe that a transgender swimmer is a bigger problem than, well, anything.
And speaking of anything, if you listen to Republicans tell it, transgender kids are the true threat to the United States and that Vladimir Putin, a man who is war-criming his way through Ukraine, is only trying to protect his country from the radical West.
“Our woke ideology is hitting a gag reflex in other nations,” Biblical Worldview Guru Lance Wallnau said. “Certainly in Russia, they don’t want our transgender ideology to infect their youth.”
What about Russia’s ideology of murdering people before the world’s eyes?
Conservatives have been praising Putin for a long time, but Trump seems to have taken it to the next level. And the attack on Ukraine isn’t changing their love for Putin.
These people have very messed up priorities. The fact that the Republicans even have a fleeting chance of taking control of the House and the Senate in 2022 is stark evidence that this country is gravely ill.
I often end this column by urging you to vote. And I am, of course, going to do that now (vote, damn it). But I also want to say things can absolutely get worse. And they absolutely will if Republicans get the majority back in D.C.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.