What, and Where to Now?by Raymond Rigoglioso on 11/12/16
In the few days since the presidential election, stories have begun poring in:
- A Facebook friend of mine in California posted that a man at a gas station approached him after the election and said, "You sad, faggot?"
- Yesterday, a friend of a friend--a gay man--in Fort Lauderdale was lured out of his apartment and beaten with a baseball bat.
- I've read articles about Muslim women who are afraid to wear their hijabs.
- Women across the country report feeling personally assaulted by the election of someone who brags about sexually assaulting women.
- A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday, in tears, how he had blissfully forgotten what it was like to live in fear for his safety as a gay man.
It's too early to discern whether there has been an actual spike in hate crimes, or whether we are focusing on them more because so many people are afraid.
But so many people are afraid for very good reasons: The President-Elect's campaign has unleashed a wave of bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, and anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT sentiment. Since just Tuesday, a sense of safety and civility has vanished.
We've been here before. And we have prevailed:
- We lived through the nightmare of AIDS, when our neighbors, friends, and government turned their backs on us and let us die.
- We persisted through times when coming out meant risking our physical safety, livelihoods, and family ties.
- We confronted the biases of our family members and co-workers.
- We persuaded those with closed hearts and minds to embrace us with love and compassion.
- We ministered. We nurtured and healed. We channeled beauty. We survived.
- We danced. We celebrated. We taught the larger world how to feel joy. And we never lost our gay spirit.
We can do this again.
A Social Movement
One of the primary reasons the LGBT rights movement has prevailed is because we did not just focus on politics. We created a social movement.
We came out. We made it personal. We won over hearts and minds. And even under duress, we did so with finesse and without violence.
We are strong--much stronger than many of us feel right now.
Our Achilles Heel
One of the primary reasons we continue to face backlash is that we have created our identity around sex. As we continue to learn, in these United States, religious and social conservatives will always demonize and try to control those who have freed themselves sexually.
We are not telling the full story of who we are--to ourselves or society. And so we continue to be reduced to deviance.
Let me be clear: I fully claim pride in my sexuality and make no apologies for it. And I am not suggesting LGBT people hide that part of themselves at all.
I am suggesting that we tell the full story of who we are--that society needs the distinct contributions we make. That when society persecutes its gay men, it removes the caregiving, the nurturing, the healing, and the ministering that we provide.
When society suppresses us, it suppresses creativity, innovation, culture, and critical perspectives.
When society persecutes LGBT people, it harms society at large.
We need new messages:
- We are your priests.
- We are your nurses, physicians, and therapists.
- We are the ones who create the beauty and culture that enrich your life.
- We go first, blazing paths that create what's new.
- We persuade religion to choose love over exclusion.
- We reinvent manhood.
- We free and enrich the human spirit.
- We are straight women's best friends.
- We model balanced manhood.
- We entertain, subvert, and inject humor into a stiffening society.
This is the message we must send. By teaching those who see us only as a sexuality that their religion deems flawed, we will give each person a window into how they contribute to the health and welfare of the human race.
The LGBT movement needs a new vision and message. And that is what Gay Men of Wisdom aims to create.