Rationalizing hate is not the same thing as being right.
The hot topic of the moment in our society is who should and shouldn’t be allowed to use certain bathrooms. Truthfully this should be a matter that was settled in 1964. Unfortunately like most civil rights issues, those who aren’t impacted negatively are the loudest opponents. The same old worn out arguments are in play. “I don’t hate anyone, but.” There is always a but. Usually followed by a statement that translates to “I don’t want them to be allowed any acceptance into what I consider mainstream society!” It could be anything from marrying your daughter to eating at the local lunch counter.
Admittedly I have had those beliefs in the past. I followed popular culture and traditions that led me to justify my bigotry. The herd mentality makes it easy to avoid any inward self-examination and just go with the flow. I didn’t have to think about what I believed, and I certainly didn’t have to try to understand both sides of an issue. My answers were set in stone by whatever those in my peer circle believed. The accepted positions were few and very limited, there was and is no question what they were.
White, Christian, and Male.
There was virtually nothing, beyond that description that was considered equal or acceptable. Anyone that dared to consider otherwise would then find themselves outcasts. That idea did not die in the 60’s, and I am afraid to say it still permeates much of our society. While open racism is much harder to find, you can still find it. Sexism is considered archaic and a belief of cavemen, but there are still cavemen. So we shouldn’t be surprised that those who still hold on, even secretly, to some of those beliefs now feel so embolden to speak about gay and transgendered issues.
The same arguments against transgendered people using sex appropriate bathrooms were used to justify Jim Crow laws. They were just as ludicrous then! The main argument being “They will harm our women and daughters!” Here’s the thing, that argument then allows them to say something like this “If they touch my daughter, I’ll kill the M’fer!” People feed off of this type of rhetoric; it justifies them to be able to say something so extreme. These volatile thoughts were always there, but now they have an acceptable reason to say it in mixed company, or on social media. No matter how false or far fetched the idea may be they hold on to their main argument. No amount of evidence, research, scientific study, or simple common sense will divert them.
In my case, it took removing myself from my peer group, and a lot of self-examination and reflection to change my ideas about things, many things. I understand how hard it is to go against tradition and local popular opinions. After getting to know quite a few people who at one time I wouldn’t have associated with, I now also understand how my beliefs truly adversely affected their lives. Directly or indirectly my unchecked prejudice impacted them, and sometimes greatly. From the candidates I worked for and supported during elections, to the groups and organizations which I donated money. I did harm to the lives of many.
The most upsetting to think about is the pure hypocrisy of it all. I was the prime example of someone who judged others for what they did while hiding my own “sins” behind closed doors. Truthfully I have lived the majority of my life being someone I wasn’t, trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t made for me. The more I tried to jam myself into that mold, the deeper I slid into depression and self-hatred. Yet there I was demanding that everyone should be forced into society’s template of acceptability.
So make no mistake, this isn’t a debate about where someone should take a piss. This is yet another attempt to marginalize and demonize a class of people. Turning this argument into some heroic effort to save our women and children is simply a weak attempt to cover hatred. A tactic that makes it easier to say “I don’t like you and I don’t like what you’re doing.” Without actually saying it.
Are we so insecure as men that we continue to allow every imaginary boogeyman under the bed scare us into irrational thoughts and actions? How long do we let every carnival barker running for office tell us that some other group of people is out to get us and destroy our families? Most importantly when will we stop treating our fellow human beings as second class because of who they love or how they live their personal lives?
So many people are fighting a battle against other people’s DNA. Taking part in an argument over something inside of someone else’s heart, mind, and soul. I can no longer do that in good conscience. As long as what you are doing in your life is not causing harm to someone else, then I have no place to tell you that you’re wrong.
I want my children to be open to other ideas, beliefs and lifestyles. I don’t want them to be afraid of everything that’s different. Indeed, I never want them to hate someone simply for who they are. Sadly I will have to combat society to achieve those things, and almost daily I have to counter some backward idea they have heard from friends. I want them to live without fear, enjoy the world for what it is and get to know as many people as they can, and always be kind.
I may not be able to make up for all my past transgressions personally, but maybe through my children, I can make things a little better in the future.
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