The Human Cost of “Don’t Say Gay”
I am sharing this heartfelt report with my community here in North Carolina. Surely, if youth in New York are having these reactions, the reactions of our queer youth here in this purple state (where the GOP legislature is following FL, TX and other regressive states re: abortion rights) must be as strong if not stronger. What are we doing for them? How are we protecting them? Thank you.
This seems to me as much a problem of political organizing and thinking as it is a problem of how the world is.
For example, we need to stop saying to each other--and hearing from 'trainers'--that those of us who teach have to take a bullet for students. The statistical likelihood of being a victim of gun violence in a classroom in the US is vanishingly small--one in 614,000,000. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/school-shootings-are-extraordinarily-rare-why-is-fear-of-them-driving-policy/2018/03/08/f4ead9f2-2247-11e8-94da-ebf9d112159c_story.html
The likelihood of getting struck by lightning is 6000 times higher, at one in a million. It's also regional--I live in Massachusetts, where there has never, ever been a school shooting (as I said to a cop as I walked out of a workshop on how to "protect" students--"how about we just stop scaring people for no reason except as propaganda for the police?")
I don't doubt that students are genuinely terrified about the future of queer life; I hear that from students and young folks in my life too. But I grew up in the Reagan '80s. I was gay-bashed 3 times (physically beaten up) before I graduated from college, and harassed in the street pretty much every day. I genuinely believed (and I still think it was true) that on at least two occasions I received lower grades because professors believed I was queer. That may've been a little worse than an "average" gay experience in college--I was visibly butch, which provoked the ***holes.
But in the '80s, in spite of an awful lot of bad stuff, I don't think we were--as an overwhelming affect--terrified or anxious. Even as our community began to die in overwhelming numbers from HIV/AIDS, I think we nevertheless dwelt in hope and anger, because we had activism, a movement, each other. We need to find that space again, because I suspect things are for the most part actually measurably better than they were 40 or 50 years ago. We need to tell each other that we have a right to be furious, and to imagine a future when things can get better.