Connect with us

Opinions

Love TaShia Asanti: Poems on George Floyd and on Pride

Published

on

 

Resurrecting George Floyd: Oriki for Justice, Healing & Freedom

 

Honoring the Vibrational Frequency of George Floyd-Ibae T’Orun

 

I.

I see him

Shadow boxing with inherited hatred

His daily processing of purse clutchings and street crossings

Drinking the fear of the big Black man

The powerful elephant whose tusks were not recognized

Carrying a basket of mistakes like every other human

George: our Superfly, our Shaft (Y’all bettah shut your mouth, I’m talking about Shaft)

Our Django wearing blue tuxedo and riding white horse

That son who always calls his mama early on Mother’s Day

That brother with two hustles and three jobs

Still found time to twirl his daughter on his shoulders

Daddy of girlchild who uttered prophetic visions of a daddy who came to change the world

 

II.

Cause of death: 20 counterfeit dollars

Price of admission for an execution on Facebook live

Chauvin’s cowardly knee on Goliath’s neck

Senseless guns trained on the gunless

Flashback to 1921 hanging captured in a celebratory photo

Leaving humanity baffled by the soullessness of executioners

Breath stopped and tears frozen in a sea of badges and blue uniforms

 

III.

Moving eyes to stone and hearts to lava

His spirit rises from asphalt to fulfill a destiny

8 minute and 46 second shift from oppressed brother to revered ancestor

A name that would be chanted a million times until it became a scripture

Summoning descendants to white house steps

Calling the breath of six volcanos to a swollen earth

Inciting marches in 18 countries and 50 states

Birthing a new nation of young warriors whose lungs function in clouds of tear gas

Whose bodies carry the tattoo of rubber bullets and billy clubs

They who hypnotize police into prayer position at street altars

They who move politicians to dress their wounds in Kente Cloth

As we raise Black power fist at the doorway of America’s capitol

As we transform murder scenes into temples with prayers, sage, candles and flowers

Rip masks off fake allies and judicial pretenders

Make proof that God’s plan trumps anything that evil and hate gives birth to

 

IV.

That moment you understand that just breathing could get you killed

An era where human decency has disappeared like an obsolete fashion

A people who have been infected with a spiritual virus called racism

Carrying the weight of an ancestral debt on a bill of 400 years of free labor

Stripes from a flawed religion that sanctioned gas chambers and conversion camps

Or just a sick need for everyone to think, love and believe like you

When intolerance morphs into yellow tape at the scene of hate crimes

Violations that no laws, arrests or jail time will ever atone for

The call to Oya for a storm strong enough to break the cycle

Sacrifice to Shango for the balancing of the scales of justice

Let the prophets speak light over the bodies of those who made this agreement

For this little light of mine now becoming a torch for change done come

 

VI.

There is motion in stillness

Ancestral elevation in hands of lightworkers

Peace in Tsunami’s where new worlds are formed

We are birthing hope in rivers

Bringing messages through dreams

We have become the healing

They are a new breed of healers

There is a purpose for this tragic period in American history

To transcend the holocausts

To see new skies open in freedom’s garden

To drink of our collective liberation

To lay down the sword and surrender the badge

To write laws that end with a difference sentence

To give ourselves permission to rest

 

VII.

This poem is for the resurrection of George Floyd

On the day God chose to televise his revolution

He is already reborn

His spirit has risen

He sits high in the holiness of ancient Mothers

He watches over the street soldiers

He carries our prayers to the Master

His shackles are forever broken

He walks in the company of mighty ancestors

He basks in the prayers of the High Priests

He laughs in the rhythm of victory

And he has forever changed the colors of the flag in the land of the freeeeeeee!

 

Pride

As I exited the Pride Parade a well-dressed woman approached me

She wore a black dress, pearls at her neck and ears, simple black pumps

In her hand was a tattered bible

I greeted her with a curt smile

 

“Why,” she asked politely, “Why do y’all have this Pride?”

 

I told her

We have Pride because we are not here by mistake

We are God’s idea on purpose

A gender expression born from a seed harvested in love

The Holy Spirit personified

Hearts a replica of the Africa from whence our souls come

Like a rose born in the ideal light

A sky with infinite rainbows

One of the 25 million shells that are the ocean’s gift to a global shore

 

She took two steps back, looked me up and down and asked

“Are you saved?”

 

I told her, “We do not need saving.”

We were born saved

Our sins are ashes long tossed into a turbulent sea

We are the branches from a tree that God herself planted, watered and pruned

We are the sweet fruit that was never bitten by Adam or Eve

 

“God can fix you if you ask Him,” she said flipping through her bible.

 

I said, “You must not have heard me.  I am not here by mistake.”

 

I have a marriage 20 years longer than most of my straight counterparts

A mama who is now an ancestor that told me I was her Shero

A straight daughter who teaches her husband how to love based on the example of the gay men and lesbian women who raised her

My daddy was a preacher and a doctor

That means I can sing the gospel on Sunday and make a salve on Monday that’ll cure the deepest spiritual wounds

 

She backed up off of me

Placed her hand over her bible and said, “What about having children?  Surely you want them?”

 

You talking about the ones that came from my womb

Or the ones your community abandoned and we took care of?

 

She pointed at the Pride detail and told me, “This is not what our ancestors died for.”

 

I said, “We were the force behind the March on Montgomery.  Bayard Rustin!”

 

We are the Bodemes

The Kimbanda from South Africa

Obinrin from Nigeria

The Mwaami’s

The Wande-Wande

The Inkosi from Zululand

The Gatekeepers from the Dagara

 

We are the sun behind the mountains in Martin’s vision

The rain that cooled the footsteps of Malcolm

We are Ph.D.’s and the Poets

NBA, NFL and their coaches

 

We are Angela Davis and Jimmy Baldwin

We are Jeffrey King and Azaan Kamau

We are Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill

We are Alfreda Lanoix and Cleo Manago

 

We are Phyllis Hyman and Luther Vandross

You loved the The Color Purple by Alice Walker?

It was written by one of us

We are Zora Neal Hurston and Bessie Smith

We are Audre Lorde and Malcolm

 

We were never gone

We will always be here

Like the rivers and ocean

We have swallowed your garbage and spit ourselves out whole

 

We are the survivors of the Middle Passage

The victims of chattel slavery

The Papas and the Mamas of America’s Babies

The Choir Director and the Choir

We are the Journalist and the Scribe

Our fingerprints are on the walls of the Pyramids

Our footsteps line the beach at Goree Island

And yes dear minister, “We have PRIDE!!!  We have PRIDE!  We have PRIDE!”

 

(This Pride poem by Ifalade Ta’Shia Asanti debuted on June 28, 2011 at In the Meantime Pre-Pride Event)

Love TaShia Asanti is an award-winning poet, activist, journalist, speaker and author of 7 books.  More found at www.officialtashiaasanti.com  (Photos by D. Pepper Massey)

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Commentary

Meet Kody & his Mom: Homeless LGBTQ refugees from Florida

It was either leave Florida or watch her 16-year-old transgender son wither and possibly die- She had good reason to fear

Published

on

A group of LGBTQ young people at a homeless shelter (Blade file photo)

By James Finn | DETROIT – What would you do as a parent if your comfortable home and middle-class lifestyle were killing your kid?

Pack up whatever possessions you could fit in your car? Drive 1,300 miles over four anxiety-filled days, spending almost your last penny to get your son to safety? I can hear parents everywhere shouting, “Of course! That’s what parents do!”

When I lived in Germany, I met parents who fled conflict zones and impoverished themselves to give their kids a shot at safety and happiness. I never dreamed I would meet fellow Americans who chose to become refugees right here in the U.S.

Then two nights ago, I spend two hours on the phone with “Kate” and “Kody,” who just fled Florida for a New York homeless shelter.

53-year-old Kate tells me she had no choice. It was either leave Florida or watch her 16-year-old transgender son wither and possibly die.

She had good reason to fear.

Years ago, she spent a month sleeping on a sofa in the living room with Kody. He was only 13, he’d tried to overdose, and even though he said he was fine, she wouldn’t let him out of her sight.

Everything got better for a while. Kody made friends with other trans kids, he started puberty blockers, he felt good about himself, and life seemed okay. Kate let her guard down, and then … all hell broke loose.

This is Kody’s story. And Kate’s.

Kody tells me on the phone that he first realized he was trans when he was 7. I’ve only emailed the family up to now, and I’m interested to note that Kody sounds like a typical 14 or 15-year-old boy. His voice is reedy and rough — not yet a man’s but no longer a boy’s. He’s sharp. Talkative. Well informed. If I didn’t already know he was 16, I might have guessed 17 or 18.

He and Kate are on speakerphone with me, and he tells me he didn’t have a label for transgender at 7, but he knew. When he was 8, he told Kate.

Kate says her first instinct was denial.

“I went through all the stages-of-grief process, including fear and terror, in about 15 minutes. He was just looking at me, and I didn’t say anything. Then I said to myself, ‘Shit, this isn’t about me.’ I thought about how scared he must be about all the things he would have to face.”

Kody tells me, “My mom’s support and her open mindedness was pretty quick. The next day she was like, ‘What do you need me to do, and what do we do next?’”

He didn’t come out to anybody else for years, but he was a stubborn little boy. He couldn’t bring himself to wear a uniform skirt to school. “The staff was adamant, but I refused. They finally stopped trying to make me. Otherwise, I flew under the radar.”

Then as puberty started, Kody started to spiral. Kate says she’d been worried, knowing the changes would be traumatizing. One day when Kody was about 11, he walked into the bathroom to take a shower and noticed his shoulder-length hair in the mirror.

“I had started puberty early, and did not want to be viewed as a girl. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was like, ‘That has to go!’ I took my grade-school baby scissors and chopped it all off.”

Kate laughs a little, remembering how crazy Kody’s hair looked. Then she says, “When you came out of that bathroom, it completely broke my heart.”

She took him to a barber, got him a buzz cut he loved, and that began his difficult public coming-out process.

“Mom knew how serious things were getting. I was beginning to lose friends, so she researched community support. She eventually found a program called Compass.”

Compass is an LGBTQ community center in Palm Beach County that offers a peer-support group for youth. Kody started attending and making friends when he was 12.

“That’s when my social transition got more pronounced. I had my name picked out, and I was sort of telling teachers as I went along. Then I came out to my dad. He was often busy at work and was not as present as average, but we had a decent relationship.

“One morning when he got up about 6:30, I asked him if he could talk to me for a second. He was in my room beside my bed. I took my blanket and threw it over my head so I couldn’t look at him. I blurted really quickly, ‘I think I might be trans.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ I took the blanket off, and he said, ‘That’s OK.’”

Kody’s dad did not reject or mistreat him, but he remained in Kody’s words, “not present.”

Despite family and peer support, Kody spiraled further.

“I had just gotten into 7th grade at a new [public] school and it was the worst school year of my life. I was getting bullied a lot. I was extremely depressed and started seeing a psychiatrist and taking anti-depression medication. It wasn’t working. I was still bullied and severely depressed. Staff were not queer friendly. There was only one other trans student at school.”

Students and staff constantly bullied Kody and the other trans kid. “The guidance counselor told both of us separately that Jesus would save us [from being trans]. She said we still have time and we don’t understand what we’re feeling, but Jesus does.”

Kody tells me with a mixture of amusement and anger that the other kid is Jewish. Kate was incensed, but there wasn’t much she could do. Besides, she had her hands full.

Kody began to have “meltdowns.” He says, “When mom got me up for school, I would scream, cry, kick, whatever.”

One day on the way to school, “Mom handed me the bottle of antidepressants and I stared for about 30 seconds. Then I opened it to take my medicine, and in one swell swoop I took all of them.”

I’m not expecting Kody to say this, so I’m shocked into silence. When I catch my breath, I say, “You were only 13. Did you take those pills to send a message or did you really intend to die?”

Kody voice goes whisper quiet. “I really wanted to die.”

He moves on fast. “Mom immediately pulled over to a gas station, called dad and asked him what to do. I tried to throw up and did a little. It was mostly regret but also because I didn’t like the way my mom felt.”

Kody was hospitalized for quite a while, although the medications he took aren’t lethal even at high doses. Doctors worried he’d try again, and when he finally came home, Kate went into hyper-protective mom mode, not letting him out of her sight even to sleep.

Kate realized something had to change fast.

She reached out to Compass Center staff, and they got her a list of six local doctors who do gender therapy. She found one who took their insurance and who eventually prescribed puberty blockers to ease Kody’s traumatizing dysphoria. She panicked over the impossible $4,000.00 annual price tag. Then she qualified for a financial aid program, and Kody received his first of four quarterly injections to put his sexual maturation on hold.

“Did that help?” I ask.

His tone says, ‘Not really.’

“By the time I started them, I was well into being 14. They stopped my cycle, which was the worst part. They slowed breast growth but didn’t reverse existing growth.”

He took the shots for about a year, then on his doctor’s advice, he started testosterone. For almost another year, things started looking up.

That’s when the “hell” I mentioned broke loose.

The State of Florida passed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, which filled local news with angry voices of conservative parents hating on trans students and calling their parents groomers and pedophiles. Kody watched carefully as the Texas governor announced child-abuse investigations of parents with transgender children.

When the governor of Florida suggested he’d do the same thing, Kody felt guilt that he might hurt his parents and intense fear that he’d be taken from them. His grades suffered and so did his mental health.

Kate says, “I became terrified of child abuse investigations and Kody being put in foster care. He could not survive in the system. This was a matter of life or death.”

Then as if things weren’t bad enough, Kody’s doctor moved away.

Kate went back to Compass for a referral, but their list of 6 doctors willing to treat trans kids had shrunk to one, and when Kate called up, that practice didn’t take her insurance.

Kody was forced to stop testosterone cold turkey, and his mental health took a nosedive.

Together, mom and son decided they absolutely had to get out of Florida. They planned it for months.

New York was Kody’s idea.

Trans teens he talked to there told him they felt safe and supported at school instead of bullied. He needed that! Kate saved every dime she could, and in a leap of desperate faith, packed the car up at the beginning of September and started driving her son toward hope. She tells me she didn’t have concrete plans, that she struggled with extreme anxiety for the four days the trip took.

I ask her what the final straw was. “What got you in that car?”

Her voice shakes. “My son lost another one of his peers.”

I don’t know what that means, so Kody spells it out. “I had a trans friend I’d known for years and got the news he committed suicide.”

Kate says, “That for me was it!” She became convinced that getting Kody to New York was a matter of saving his life. Nothing would stop her, not even anxiety.

Things are finally looking up.

I first learned about this when Kate emailed me from New York several days ago. She wrote to thank me for my recent article about the Rainbow Youth Project, which provides crisis support for LGBTQ kids. She wrote that she was reaching out to them and felt really hopeful and — finally — not alone.

I immediately contacted Rainbow Youth and after a couple days learned they were working to arrange medical care. Kody is assigned to a case manager now, and from what I know of the organization, they’ll do whatever it takes to get him the care he needs.

By the end of the call, Kody’s voice sounds more than reedy and rough. It sounds happy. Full of hope.

He describes the tiny, kitchen-less room they’re sleeping in as clean and private — as if living in a homeless shelter is the least of his worries. He’s excited about school, which he says he loves. He’s making friends. His teachers are calling him by his chosen name using he/him pronouns. All he had to do was ask!

In Florida, he says, “It’s like pulling teeth.”

About New York, he adds, “I am incredibly optimistic. Obviously, we face a lot of hardships getting into stable living, but I no longer have this looming dread waking up in the morning.”

Kody and Kate are going to be okay, but the desperate situation they found themselves in is shared by far too many LGBTQ families in the U.S.

Many parents of transgender kids in conservative states are scared to death about abuse investigations and lack of health care. Rainbow Youth case managers tell me Kody’s lack of access to a doctor is becoming normal in some red states, particularly Florida and Texas.

In Texas, child abuse investigations have been stopped by the courts, allowed again, and stopped again in some cases. Parents have no idea what to expect.

This summer, the outspoken transgender girl Kai Shappley, who has testified multiple times before the Texas Legislature to advocate for transgender youth, announced a fundraiser so she and her family could flee Texas.

Kai and Kody are tips of the iceberg. I hear from LGBTQ families constantly about the danger they feel they’re in — about how becoming refugees in their own country feels like their only option to stay healthy and stay together.

Do you want to help?

Get out and vote this November. Send a message to Republican leaders that picking on LGBTQ families for political gain is a losing tactic. Do you want to help families more directly? Give generously to local and national LGBTQ organizations that provide direct services.

Read about the Rainbow Youth Project USA here, or click the graphic below to learn how you can help by volunteering time or funds.

Do you know LGBTQ families in need? Do you feel helpless or hopeless? Rainbow Youth volunteers are ready to help. Right now.

Click to visit Rainbow Youth

************************

James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]

********************

The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading

Commentary

Bisexual activists cautiously optimistic after White House meeting

Sept. 20 gathering took place during Bisexual Visibility Week

Published

on

From left to right: Ellyn Ruthstrom, Tania Israel, Nicole Holmes, Mimi Hoang, Ezra Young, Lauren Beach, Belle Hagget Silverman, Diana Adams, Heron Greenesmith, and Khafre Abif. Kneeling: Robyn Ochs, Fiona Dawson and Blair Imani outside the White House on Sept. 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Heron Greenesmith)

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Sept. 20, just in time for Bisexual Visibility Week, a diverse group of 15 bisexual and pansexual activists met with officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including Melanie Fontes Rainer, the director of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS. 

The 15 advocates comprised a wide cross-section of the bisexual community, including nonbinary, Transgender, female, young, older, Black, Asian and Muslim advocates, people with disabilities and parents. We came from many walks of life: Academia, education, research, health care, advocacy, law, media and community activism. This isn’t unusual: Bisexual people comprise more than half of all LGBT people, totally approximately 12.5 million bisexual adults in the U.S. Strikingly, 15 percent of all GenZ adults — nearly 1 in 6 — identify as bisexual. People of color are more likely to identify as bisexual, as are cisegender women and Transgender people in general. 

It has been a painful six years since the Executive Branch last met with bisexual activists (you do the math.) Those meetings, like this one, were the product of tireless advocacy from a population with zero paid organizational staff and less than one percent of all philanthropic dollars earmarked for the LGBT community. It was these stats and others that we shared at HHS on Sept. 20. 

Bisexual and pansexual people face specific disparities in mental and physical health, intimate partner violence and monkeypox prevention, treatment and care. Did you know, for example, that nearly half of bisexual women report having been raped? And did you know that federal reporting on monkeypox doesn’t disaggregate between gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men, despite evidence that bisexual men are uniquely vulnerable to MPX and other infectious diseases. 

Khafre Abif is a Black bisexual educator, father and person living with HIV. At the meeting with agency officials, Abif shared the story of how staff at his HIV-care clinic initially denied him the monkeypox vaccine, despite Abif being bisexual and thus in a population of special focus for the vaccine. 

“This meeting has been a long time coming for the bi+ community,” said Abif. “I’m looking forward to a dialogue with federal officials about solving some of the health issues we face.”

In order to begin remedying these disparities and more, we presented the administration with a set of benchmarks, including the creation of a Federal Interagency Bisexual Liaison and a Federal Interagency Bisexual Working Group. Other benchmarks included training for HHS staff on bisexual disparities and remedies thereof, funding streams for bisexual-specific funding and interventions, and the disaggregation of data on specific health disparities. 

Robyn Ochs is a pillar of bisexual and pansexual community organizing. At HHS, Ochs shared more about her specific expertise. “Research has made clear our health disparities and invisibility. It’s time for federal interventions to catch up with what we already know through research and lived experience.”

Frustrated by years of inaction by the federal government to release bisexual-specific data, target the bisexual and pansexual community with tailored interventions, or recognize the importance of bi+ health in general, we are cautiously excited by this opportunity to share critical data and remedies. 

Heron Greenesmith is the Senior Research Analyst for LGBTQI+ Justice at Political Research Associates, and the co-founder of BiLaw and the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition. Find Greenesmith on Twitter @herong.

Continue Reading

Commentary

LGBTQ+ TV roles purged as book bans surge & kids suffer

The upcoming season, based on already-published schedules, will see LGBTQ representation fall into the single digits

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade graphic

By James Finn | DETROIT – Now is a great time for queer representation in media, right? Not so fast! Entertainment analyst Francesco Bacci says you’d be forgiven for thinking so based on truly great 2022 shows like the U.K. smash hit Heartstopper, the popular U.S. remake of Queer As Folk, and Hulu’s trending Conversations With Friends.

Bacci says the future, however, looks grim, writing that networks and streaming services are rapidly “purging” queer characters from their upcoming seasons.

* 1,648 individual book titles mentioning race or LGBTQ people were banned by 5,000 schools in 32 states in the last school year. *

He says LGBTQ TV this year “got canceled more often than J.K. Rowling,” and that networks and streaming services are axing popular shows with LGBTQ themes and characters at rates that represent an industry sea change.

He says next year’s TV season will be an LGBTQ desert as Netflix, HBO, and The CW (among other players) refocus content.

For example, GLAAD ranked the The CW number one in the industry this year for LGBTQ inclusivity, with 17.1% of series regulars clocking in as LGBTQ. The upcoming season, based on already-published schedules, will see LGBTQ representation fall into the single digits, and the network will not air any series with a queer lead character.

Bacci writes that other networks and services are doing the same. He doesn’t speculate on why networks are cancelling programs with decent or good ratings, but the purging of queer characters in TV corresponds in the U.S. to an unprecedented purge of queer books from library shelves.

LGBTQ people in large swathes of the U.S. are being erased and silenced at a stunning pace. Book bans lead the way.

The book-banning phenomenon appears driven by a well funded, highly organized, Republican campaign that’s (misleadingly) all about protecting children from “grooming” and/or sexual exploitation.

You may already be aware that book censorship has spiked to levels Americans haven’t seen in generations, if ever.

“Banning books is just one arm of a larger, organized campaign to target and harass LGBTQ youth nationwide. There’s no separating book bans from ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws, attacks on healthcare and sports for trans youth, and the hundreds of other bills and policies that put LGBTQ youth at the center of a target built by extremist groups and politicians,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in books and other forms of media, and the targeting of LGBTQ youth through book bans and other anti-LGBTQ school policies must end.”

The Guardian reported this morning on a Pen America finding that a total of 1,648 individual book titles mentioning race or LGBTQ people were banned by 5,000 schools in 32 states in the last school year.

Pen smashes the “grooming” narrative: “Many of the books have been banned for simply featuring people who identify as LGBTQ+, … often under a spurious justification that the titles are “obscene.” Race and discussion of America’s racist past is also a target of book bans, with 40% of titles banned featuring prominent characters of color.”

Pen America CEO Suzanne Nossel disputes claims that the book bans are a mostly grassroots effort: “While we think of book bans as the work of individual concerned citizens, our report demonstrates that today’s wave of bans represents a coordinated campaign to banish books being waged by sophisticated, ideological and well-resourced advocacy organizations.”

Texas leads the way with book bans, followed by Florida

Coincidence? Hardly. Texas and Florida also take the number one and two “honors” in a different, grisly statistic — calls from suicidal LGBTQ teens to crisis lines like The Trevor Project and Rainbow Youth Project USA — calls that experts say are a direct result of hostile anti-LGBTQ political messaging.

Click the graphic or here to visit Rainbow Youth

Rainbow Youth, which also provides direct services to LGBTQ youth and families in crisis, tells me that over 66% of their hotline calls come from Texas, and that Florida is vying for the top spot. Lance, Rainbow Youth’s founder, told the Los Angeles Blade this morning that negative political messaging is behind the surge in calls, adding that lack of representation makes the problem worse:

“Far too often our teens in crisis say, ‘I never see anyone like me.’ That lack of representation can cause isolation which often leads to self-hate and depression, which can result in self-harm.”

(Rainbow Youth staff have a policy of not using last names in media communication, citing ongoing threats of violence.)

Kids in GOP states are losing role models faster than they can blink

LGBTQ teachers are resigning, many saying they feel forced out by anti-queer policies and hostile anti-LGBTQ activists. GSA peer clubs in red-state schools are under withering attack. Library shelves are being emptied of queer content. And now it looks like TV shows are next on the list.

What are the consequences?

Later today, I’ll be interviewing a 16-year-old transgender boy and his mom. They left Florida this summer because of hostility they say politicians and local school boards display toward members of gender and sexual minorities.

The mom is thrilled her son is in a healthier place now, enjoying school in a progressive state where school is more safe for queer kids. Sadly, they’re couchsurfing until she can get on her feet, if she can get on her feet.

She quit her job and moved a thousand miles to give her teen a shot at a happy, healthy life. That’s what good parents do, of course, but it’s not a choice any mom should feel forced to make. Tragically, it’s a choice LGBTQ families in Republican states are facing in increasing numbers.

Even the U.S. military has offered to give parents of LGBTQ kids early transfers of out states like Texas and Florida.

The harsh reality is that many families lack the means to pick up and move. They’re stuck where they are.

The war on queer youth needs to stop, and erasing needs to end

I don’t know if the U.S. entertainment industry’s 180 on LGBTQ representation stems from fear of the current political backlash, but I know a strong majority of Americans oppose the backlash and revile right-wing attempts to paint LGBTQ people as groomers and molestors.

I know a huge majority of Americans revile book banning and love diversity in entertainment.

I also know that, somehow, a fringe element has seized effective control of the Republican Party on the state level, and that they’re demonizing queer people to rile up their base and turn out the vote in November.

I know this is no time for Americans of good will to back down in the face of hate. Librarians are putting up a united front, fighting to keep books on shelves. I urge entertainment executives to join them, to fight back instead of bowing down.

I urge all Americans to go the polls this November and send Republicans a strong message: Not here, not today, not on our watch. Long-standing American traditions of freedom and liberty are at stake. We must meet the challenge.

Please get out there and vote out of a realization that lives literally depend on it.

************************

James Finn is a columnist for the LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an “agented” but unpublished novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to [email protected]

********************

The preceding article was previously published by Prism & Pen– Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Advertisement

Popular