Safety…

I still don’t know why I clicked play. It was several years ago, when Russia was hosting the Winter Olympics and people wanted to get the word out on how bad Russia was to it’s LGBTQ citizens. Someone made a video compiled of the videos homophobic people made. LGBTQ people had no protections so abusers felt they could do anything and record it for further “enjoyment”. One young man was handed a bottle and told to insert it into his anus. He begged for mercy. It was denied. I can still hear his screams.

Then videos surfaced, in the Middle East, of gay men being thrown off buildings. And the public hangings continued in Saudi Arabia. And a friend of mine is gender fluid but she can’t let anyone know in her country.

I’ve watched the battle for equal marriage in the States become a success… and the struggle for trans rights stagnate. Some wins… some losses. The transphobic side is downright scary. When an elementary school girl wanted to use the girl’s bathroom the school chatroom quickly devolved with people calling her a “half baked maggot”  and “it” then bragging over which one of their sons was going to beat her up. Her family quickly moved.

Then there’s Uganda with it’s virulent homophobic atmosphere. It’s pretty much illegal to be LGBTQ, as if people have control over their sexual orientation.

Poland has declared 1/3 of the country to be LGBTQ free. Of course everyone knows that’s not the case. It’s not like the LGBTQ community dissolves when a law like that is passed, we’re simply forced into hiding. What’s going to happen to all the LGBTQ adults? What’s going to happen to the kids who are slowly realizing they’re not straight or cis? I’m betting Poland’s going to see a spike in their suicide rates soon. The question is will they care?

The States pretty much said “hold my beer” as Greenville County, South Carolina tried to remove a resolution passed in 1996 with the opposers stating ‘that lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policy makers, because they are incompatible with the standards to which this community subscribes’. They didn’t have enough people there to pass the vote so it’s been moved. Now one of the councilors wants the whole county to vote on it in a resolution in November. Nothing like having your human rights put to a vote while people debate on whether you’re harmful to children.

Closer to home there’s the Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, who wanted parents to be aware if their child joined the Gay-Straight Alliance, despite the fact that 40% of homeless youths are part of the LGBTQ community, a hugely disproportionate amount. What he proposed wasn’t safe for the children in those groups but he plowed on with it anyway. It passed.

When Kathleen Wynne was the premier of Ontario, she decided sex education needed a huge overhaul and worked with parents and educators to create a plan more suited for today’s society. It also included age appropriate discussions on LGBTQ people and people freaked out. They acted like their kindergarteners were going to learn about gay sex when all they were doing was learning the names of body parts and reading books like Heather Has Two Mommies. There were protests but Wynne refused to budge. All children needed comprehensive sex ed. Then there was an election and Doug Ford won. One of the first things he did when he entered the office was reverse the sex ed programme back to the 90’s version. Back to the one which had no mention of the LGBTQ community or sexting or the internet. Anything to keep children from hearing about the queers.

And now there are evangelical Christians blaming the LGBTQ community for the coronavirus. Pastors such as Steven Andrew are saying things like:

“God’s love shows it is urgent to repent because the Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies,” the minister said in a video posted to YouTube.

“Our safety is at stake since national disobedience of God’s laws brings danger and diseases, such as coronavirus, but obeying God brings covenant protection… God protects the USA from danger as the country repents of LGBT, false gods, abortion and other sins.”

My son Colin backed away from being trans and transitioning a couple of years ago ostensibly because of fertility reasons, the hormones are more likely than not going to cause sterility and he wants biological children. So Emma and the she/her pronouns went back in the closet. But that wasn’t the only reason. Every single time we headed out Colin/Emma fretted about what clothes to wear… terrified of being attacked at the bus stop. I promised I’d fight the attackers but he didn’t have much faith in my middle aged 5ft 3in self.

Where is our safety? These laws are supposedly for protection from the LGBTQ community, even though we aren’t harming anything and only ask for equal rights. That apparently doesn’t matter. And, for every win, such as equal marriage and repeals of conversion therapy, there’s a loss, a rollback of rights. I wear a rainbow scarf given to me by my ex Lenny and a rainbow cat pin from my friend Jen and wear both with pride. I still worry about attracting negative attention although thankfully I haven’t received any.

Maybe someday we’ll all be considered equal but not today. Not tomorrow either.

me-on-the-bowmanville-creek-trail

Me with my rainbow pin and scarf

 

Straight pride…

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe six or seven. I was standing in the living room beside my Mom when a boy only a little older than me walked past on the road. It was obvious he was crying.

“Why’s he crying Mommy?” I asked.

“He’s going to karate and he doesn’t want to go,” she replied.

“But why does he have to go if he doesn’t like it?”

My Mom thought for a few minutes, likely tailoring the story into something more suitable for my age. “His father thinks he’s too… sensitive… too girly and he’s trying to toughen him up.”

I thought of how sad he’d looked. “Can’t someone stop his Dad?”

“It’s not illegal to send your child to karate, even if he doesn’t like it. It’s not even against the law to make him walk there.”

I could tell by my Mom’s voice she didn’t like it. It was also obvious that there was nothing she or anyone else could do. It was also obvious that some adults did not like their children for who they were. Fit in or get hammered in.

The years passed and I was in high school. I was in a crowded hall when the group next to me caught my attention. Maybe because they were loud. Maybe because there was a teacher in the group. It was Monday and they were talking about what they’d done that weekend.

“I went downtown,” one said with a shit eating grin. A second and the teacher had also gone.

I loved going downtown too. I’d go down Queen Street to Bakka, a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore and I’d sometimes eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory. That wasn’t why they went though.

“There’s so many fags there, I didn’t have enough rocks!”

“I hit one and made him bleed!” The rest, including the teacher, made noises of approval, while I slid through the crowd and hurried away, feeling sick.

Time went on. I joined a choir and looked forward to our weekly rehearsals. One year we performed the song “Putting on the Ritz” and had a tap dancer perform in the middle. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him and couldn’t stop blushing either. He was really cute and a really good dancer. I mentioned the latter to the person beside me who looked at me with surprise.

“She’s a girl,” the choir member informed me. I looked closer and, sure enough, she was. But the interest didn’t go away. And, unlike the feeling of curiosity I felt when I was romantically attracted to a boy, this time all I felt was fear.

I was bullied at school and already knew how kids treat those they feel are different. And, of course, I couldn’t forget the guys blithely talking about throwing rocks at strangers for fun.

By the time I finished high school I was so far into the closet I’m surprised I didn’t come back out riding a lion. I married a man and was pregnant before our first anniversary. I’d worn my hair almost down to my waist for years but was finding it harder to keep it brushed and decent so I’d got a short cut in my 8th month. We went out for a walk one evening when a car drove by. The passenger yelled, “Fags!!!” out the open window. Anything else he said blurred into nonsense syllables while they sped away. I was terrified. Would they come back? Would they care that I was pregnant if they did. My ex wasn’t worried at all. I, however, knew how they treated those who were different.

It was last December and on our first date when I slid my hand into my girlfriend’s hand. We walked down a quiet path and I quietly breathed a sigh of relief when no one said anything. I knew that wasn’t the case all the time. Times have changed but by how much? Apparently enough to have a straight pride parade.

The parade is scheduled for this August in Boston and, to no one’s surprise, has links with the far-right and includes having Milo Yawnopoulos as the Grand Marshal. I’ve read a mixture of opinions regarding it but all I have is rage.

Pride started out as a protest against police brutality. It started with a brick thrown by a black trans sex worker, causing a riot that lasted for several days. The following year they started a parade and it’s continued ever since, spreading across the world. It was a parade of rage. Rage against the police officers who would pull them onto the street naked to shame them. Rage against the public who didn’t care. Rage against people who attacked them and mocked them… who refused to hire them or rent apartments to them. It wasn’t a party.

Now the Pride Parade is more of a party, a celebration of how far we’ve come. A celebration that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away.

But now there’s a straight backlash. They want to be in the LGBTQIA2S acronym, you know, because it isn’t quite long enough yet. They want their parade too. It’s not fair.

Do you know what’s not fair? What’s not fair is that child crying his way to karate, knowing his father only wanted him if he was someone else. Someone stronger… someone more straight. That child’s suicide attempt risk is so much higher than a straight child.

What’s not fair is all the people who had rocks thrown at them all because they dared to hold hands in a gay enclave. Or had slurs screamed at them.

What’s not fair is the eleven POC trans women who have been killed this year alone.

Or how about gay conversion therapy for youths, a treatment that has huge suicide rates and can cause PTSD.

Straight people want the party without the pain. They’ve never worried about holding hands or being attacked. They don’t have to worry about being misgendered and mocked by hospital staff after being assaulted. The people demanding their straight parade are like a spoiled child seeing a student get an award and demanding to know where their award is too, even though they didn’t put in any of the work.

No one’s stopping them for attending a pride parade, although I have a hunch they refuse out of a fear of having a pass made to them. They can wave rainbow flags and laugh and cheer with everyone else. Allies are more than welcome.

But they’re going to have their parade and a bunch of my friends are figuring it’s going to be the most boring parade ever, unless the far-right ignites a riot. And I’m just glad I’m nowhere near it.

 

Woke people need to stay in their lane…

I am so tired of people who claim to be woke. They’re not very woke, they need a few more hours sleep because they’re cranky as hell and don’t always make much sense. In their minds, they are the chosen few who have risen above racism and cast judgement on us lesser people. In reality they’re harassing their allies and driving them away.

I had a friend who got mad at me for saying Roseanne Barr was a horrible person for dressing up as Hitler and pulling little burnt Jewish cookies out of a gas oven. I needed to “stay in my lane”. Several Jewish people said it was fine and they agreed with me. She spoke over them to tell me, once again, to stay in my lane. I simply said “no” and got unfriended.

And now, today, I have a “friend” who posted this…

ridiculous radicals

Gee… I wonder if a “radical” wrote this. I am a Liberal and have no interest in being Radical. I also don’t think that POC need to learn how to act like white people. I believe we need to accept people as themselves. So I wrote, “I’m liberal but don’t think that at all.” Short and sweet, right? This was the response…

Holy shitballs folks, maybe when something angers you it’s time to examine why you’re so angry…

Because I, btw, do not consider myself a liberal exactly because of how invested in white supremacy liberals in the USA are.

And because any discussion about race leads to white folks moaning about how “not them” instead of calling out other white people.

Not every generalization applies to you as an individual, get over yourselves. They apply to liberals GENERALLY.

Although I find the ones quickest to #notall are usually the most guilty need to be defensive.

That you even get to argue this shit is a privilege. Deal with the fact that you are racist and do better instead of thinking that when I complain about men/whites/liberals I’m calling you out personally.

Unless, you know, them shoes fit.

For someone who’s claiming myself and the other person who commented are angry, she sure has a lot of rage. I responded that her response was full of anger and she might want to look in a mirror. She was not happy to be told that.

People need to stop pinning labels on others and making assumptions about their beliefs and prejudices. Instead they need to treat each individual as just that, an individual. Black people can be prejudiced against other POC, southern Baptists can end up being supportive of trans people, white liberals can be open minded, and radicals can be ignorant.

If you build a big wall of intolerance between you and your neighbour, you are never going to see your similarities and you’ll never get the chance to actually know them.

Sadly, I don’t think this friend is going to try and listen but hopefully someone will because racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are growing and the people who should be fighting against it are fighting their allies and calling them names instead.

The intolerant church…

I clicked the link to an article a couple of days ago about a woman who had her church membership revoked for being in a four year long same sex relationship. The name of the church was familiar then I realized it was that Calvary Baptist Church. I passed it every day when I worked and I still pass it on a regular basis. It’s within walking distance of my home.

The church itself is huge. The main building looms at the corner of Rossland and Ritson and it has a big enough membership to afford a huge animated billboard (that runs 24/7) and the church across the street.

Every time I’ve gone past that church, I’ve felt a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, a knowledge that I would not be accepted there as myself. I’m an atheist, asexual, and interested romantically in all genders. I’m also pro trans rights and have a son who’s transgender (even if he’s not interested in transitioning at the moment). And now I’ve had it verified that I would not be accepted at all.

It’s easy to pass the church and know I wouldn’t be accepted. It’s not a church I’d want to attend anyway. The hard part is how big that church is. How many people attend there? I’d guess at least a hundred. My neighbours? The cashier at the grocery store? The elderly couple who smiled and said hi as we passed each other outside? If I do manage to find someone to date, what would their reactions be? I feel safe walking around my neighbourhood now. Would I still feel safe if I held hands with a girlfriend?

Calvary is the church that came under media attention but there’s another church, the Embassy, to the west of us. It is even bigger than Calvary, a gargantuan church that requires police assistance to guide cars out of their parking lot after service. There are that many people. I’ve never attended there but I’ve seen some of their flyers and listened to people on the bus. It’s also evangelical. How many of my neighbours attend there? How many sermons have they heard that were against the LGBTQIA community? I feel pinned between the two churches, hemmed in by hatred.

I feel badly for the woman who received the letter. She’d been a member for years and volunteered to help with the children there. She considered it her spiritual home even though they had preached against the LGBTQIA community before. I’ve dropped some pretty blatant hints but have never actually come out, in person, and told friends or family that my romantic interests are not solely for men. I’ve been too worried. She came out to her church friends and got thoroughly rebuffed. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her. And still she went back right until they told her she was no longer welcome.

I wish her all the best in her search for a welcoming congregation, the United Church and UU church both have that distinction. And I will continue to be friendly with the people I meet and continue wondering if they’d accept me if they knew who I’m interested in.

Dear Parents, love your children…

Not just your straight, cisgender children but your rainbow children too. My heart is breaking over little Anthony Avalos, who’d been abused for years alongside his siblings, but killed after he came out gay. He was young enough and innocent enough that he didn’t even come out as gay. He said that he “liked boys”.

He was failed in so many ways. People had called the Child Protective Services sixteen times over the years regarding multiple bruises on the children. He finally died of severe head injuries while covered in cigarette burns.

I remember reading a case a few years ago that was almost identical. A young, presumed to be gay boy, a history of abuse of all siblings, a final, fatal beating. The only difference was the boy was around kindergarten age.

And there’d been another case in 2013 where the son, Gabriel Fernandez had been assumed to be gay and was beaten to death while his siblings simply got ignored. Once again the calls about abuse were ignored and they continued with the beatings until he was dead.

That’s enough. Please let that be enough. It’s enough already that 40% of homeless youths are LGBTQIA, kicked out when they come out. It’s enough that 30% of all suicides are LGBTQIA, and it’s way too much that almost 65% of unsupported trans youths have contemplated suicide with 49% attempting.

There’s still conversion therapy with all it’s horrors. Not everywhere but it’s still lurking. The author of one article I read went to one such camp and was told, flat out, by the staff that half of them would be dead by the end. Soon, the youngest, had killed himself and, by the end, half the group was gone.

Little Anthony should be at the end of a month of celebrating being himself, the end of rainbows and confetti, and loud, happy parades. He should have strings of multi-coloured beads hanging off his bed and memories of being welcome. He should not be a tiny figure in a too large body bag.

Colin was six years old. I was taking a load of recycling over to the bins when he asked if he could marry one of his male classmates who he loved dearly. Another time he informed Kait that his heart was broken because he’d asked a boy out and got turned down. Within a year or two he was interested in girls but he certainly didn’t for a couple of years. My answer when I was asked about marriage was “yes you certainly can”, even though we were a few months away from equal marriage being legalized. He deserved the same love and attention as his sister and he got it.

Please, if you cannot handle raising an LGBTQ child, let them go. Call up CPS or CAS and tell them your child is gay or trans and their life is at risk under your care. I don’t care if you have to drop them off in front of the office and leave them there, just get them out of your care before you make them a statistic.

And, for the ones who are simply confused and unsure what to do, take a look into your local PFLAG. They will help you understand what’s going on and give you resources. If you have a local chapter, you can even meet up with other parents and talk about your questions and concerns.

But can we please have no more little rainbow children in body bags. Can we please let them grow?

Colin

An open letter by Kait…

Trigger warnings;

Mention/quotes of homophobic/transphobic comments, mention/quotes of emotional abuse, general fuckery, bullshit, and douchebaggery

An open letter to my father;

I am writing this, not for you, but for every parent like you. I honestly hope you leave us alone, including not reading Mom’s blog anymore, but I know you won’t, so I might as well address this to you.

This week, you showed your true colours, not just to us, but to everyone who saw your birthday post on Emma’s Facebook wall. You planned a month in advance, a post in which you intentionally dead-named and misgendered her, and tried to disguise it as a loving birthday wish. When you planned it, you told me you wanted to start a fight, you said you hoped it would make Mom angry enough to confront you, or at least get some of her friends commenting at you.

I guess you got your wish.

You used every chance you could to antagonize people further, and when you couldn’t find a legitimate way to escalate the fight, you would make things up out of thin air. By the time everything was said and done, you had lost both of your daughters. We both blocked you, and I wrote you off as a lost cause.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, you called Emma yesterday, claiming you wanted to comment your apology on the thread, and asking to be unblocked. Emma hadn’t totally written you off yet, so she unblocked you, without demanding a private apology first. You then claimed that there was nowhere to comment, and when she asked how you would apologize, you told her that you had gotten what you needed, by copying the beginning bits of the conversation to prove to somebody that you “tried” to apologize. That was when Emma wrote you off as a lost cause, too.

We all hoped that after the things you said publicly, this would be the end of the contact you would have with us (especially with Emma), but of course, that was not the case.

The messages you sent her today went way over the top. You sent multiple messages to her, just to tell her that you don’t think LGBT people are people, you think they should all be killed painfully, you want to watch the aforementioned killings, and that not only is she not your kid until she “realizes” she isn’t trans, but that you want your DNA back, because “it kills me u soiling my last name u freak”.

I don’t know at what point you became such a disgusting, pathetic, excuse of a person, or maybe you’ve always been like this, but just hid it better, either way; I hope that one day someone says those kinds of things about you. I’ll say one right now; I am ashamed to share a last name with you.

So, here are some questions, not just for you, but for every parent who feels the way you do;

Why does it matter to you so much that your child should be a boy, instead of a girl? If she was born with a vagina, would you have run out of the hospital room, screaming that she wasn’t yours unless she grew a penis?

How does it hurt you when she wears dresses, instead of jeans? Do her dresses turn into weird fabric snakes, and strangle you?

What’s the difference if she carries a purse, instead of a backpack?

How is it so offensive to you that she paints her nails?

Why does the fact that your daughter has a penis, mean that you love her any less?

Emma is my sister, and I will always stand with her. She drives me all the way up the wall, back down again, and around the whole bloody room, but she is still my sister. Changing her name, pronouns, and wardrobe, didn’t change who she is, or how much I love her. It sure changed who you were though.

To every homophobic, and/or transphobic parent out there;

If you wouldn’t say it to your newborn, don’t say it to your grown child.

If who your kid is, loves, or wants to be, could offend you so much that you’d stop loving them, don’t have children.

And if it’s too late, and you already have kids, do them a favour and walk out quietly, to leave them with the family members that actually deserve to interact with them.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn

Proud big sister of a transgender, lesbian, little sister

Scattering kindness…

Some days it feels like there’s so much cruelty in this world that the earth can barely contain it. From pure evil to petty meanness, it saturates our lives to the point where it’s overwhelming. It becomes hard to notice anything else. But there is something else that’s equally strong. Kindness.

Kindness grows like dandelions through concrete… seemingly impossible until it’s there. It spreads and scatters in small amounts that appear almost pointless. What can a simple smile do compared with war and starvation? But it keeps trying. It’s spreads and it grows.

Today Julie and I are protesting against the gay concentration camps in Chechnya. It is a little protest in a little city in Canada. Ramzan Kadyrov, the region’s leader, will never hear of our protest. On the surface it seems pointless.

But every person who passes us today has the chance to think of LGBTQ rights and the prejudice against us. Every person has the chance to think on their own views and perhaps modify them a bit, which then impacts their families. With each protest, more families are touched and the greater the impact. Then it’s noticed.

Politics is often a popularity game. What can a politician do to please the constituents and get elected again. A positive view on the LGBTQIA community and a desire to do something about those camps will get noticed by more and more and will, hopefully, get added to foreign policy.

Each one of us is but a simple light but together we make up all the stars in the universe. Let your light shine. It might be small but it matters. You matter.

protest