You’ve packed so much in here, Emily Swan!

First, you’ve nailed the reason I write and speak out. I could be comfortable instead. I’m a relatively privileged gay white man. I could do what a lot of my contemporaries do and close my eyes to suffering. But I can’t stop thinking about the suicide rates you cite or about how 40% of all homeless youth in North America self identify as LGBTQ.

I could say nice things to young people, like, “It gets better,” and leave it at that. I could wait for queer people to grow up and either make it or not, and then welcome the people who survive.

(I just learned this morning that a fierce trans woman activist friend of mine is dead. She seemed so strong and powerful, but she was struggling with her own demons, and she didn’t make it. And I’m shocked to numbness.)

And that’s why comfort is a privilege we can’t afford, or at least that I feel I can’t afford.

Second, your thoughts on reconciliation are so important. I can’t tell you how often people urge me to calm down and leave room for dialogue — but almost always, these exhortations come from people who are wrapped in their stigmatizing beliefs and behaviors. They continue to wound us and propagate systems of belief that guarantee harmful (even deadly) outcomes.

Third, why the hell does this have to be so hard? What is so difficult about accepting people as fully human and fully equal, and fully deserving of dignity and love? Isn’t that CHRISTIAN? Isn’t it HUMANE? According to the Pew Research Center, most Americans support full equality for LGBTQ people. Why is it that religious leaders have to be the ones dragging their feet and telling most Americans that they’re wrong? Shouldn’t religious leaders be the ones driving moral progress? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

Instead, we see Catholic bishops, Evangelical leaders, and the Mormon Church kicking and screaming as they insist on the right to hurt us and drive us to despair, homelessness, and suicide.

I accuse them of barbarity. They should know better. They DO know better. But they close their eyes and embrace their doctrines instead of their fellow human beings.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And it didn’t used to be. We need to fix this, because the way we’re behaving as a people right now is shameful.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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