What could we have done to stop the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community?

Collage poster picture artwork image of sad upset woman abuse victim sitting listening accusation isolated on painted background
Where do we draw the line at blaming ourselves? Photo: Shutterstock

A short poem written by Cindy Rizzo has been making the rounds online, and it speaks to the heart of the handwringing and blame many in the LGBTQ+ community have been placing on drag queens, transgender people, and young activists for going too far, too fast.

“I wrote it because I’d been reading about people who intimated, some more directly than others, that the current backlash against LGBTQ people, especially trans, was in some ways the fault of the movement and the community,” Rizzo told LGBTQ Nation. “That the focus on the gender spectrum beyond the binary, the support for gender-affirming care for trans youth, and the teaching of queer theory had somehow taken us to a place where we were leaving ourselves open for attack.

“There’s always been a strain of self-blame or horizontal hostility in social movements, and I guess we are no exception.  But it’s a critique I reject, so I decided to make the point by asking ‘Where would you draw the line?’ And could you be deluding yourself that this is actually a way to stop the haters?”

But what about Pride? Instead of a protest, it’s become a celebration in recent years and many members of the community have expressed difficulty in celebrating this year.

“We always have reason to celebrate at Pride and to be open and vocal in protest. Over these last 50 years, we have created the conditions for people to be out and live authentic lives,” Rizzo said. “We have created chosen and biological families. We need to be proud and defiant, insisting that we’ll never go back.”

“People can tell their truths about their lives. They can be open when that is safe. They can be in community with others, even if that’s online. I’m not discounting the reality that this is a difficult time,” she added. “People’s rights are under attack. People themselves are being attacked. But reaching out and finding joy where you can are acts of resistance, and right now, we all need to resist.”

Where do we draw the line at blaming ourselves?

If we had not refused an ENDA that excluded trans, 
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we’d just been satisfied with marriage and the military, 
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we had just told the kids who knew they’d been assigned the wrong gender (or any gender) to just wait because “it gets better” 
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we didn’t provide a safe environment for queer kids in schools, 
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we told libraries not to accept the books our authors wrote, 
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we’d insisted that there’s only two genders with their traditional pronouns
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we’d told universities to reject queer studies classes,
would they have stopped coming after us?

If we never insisted on seeing ourselves on TV and in the movies
If we agreed not to have or adopt children
If we all wore traditional gendered dresses and suits and ties to Pride (or just stopped having Pride altogether)
If we didn’t raise the rainbow or progress flags
If we hadn’t ever rioted at Stonewall….

Would they have really stopped?

Try to imagine the part of yourself you would give up because you thought you could stop them?
And what if nothing you ended up doing would stop them?

All you’re left with is the willingness to use your one precious life 
to resist them, 
to denounce them, 
to file lawsuits against them, 
to protest them, 
and to finally admit to yourself and to one another… 

that you were never to blame.

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