“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus speaking in Luke 18:16.
This weekend is the rare confluence of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan. Arguably, the holiest weekend of the year. It's a time for renewal, repentance, and forgiveness.
However, for those who have sought to demolish the lives of LGBTQ+ children, who are already suffering enough, there is no room for forgiveness, and there never will be unless these sinners repent. And we as a community find ways to creatively protect these vulnerable children and work around these sinful laws that seek to further harm them.
I spoke recently to the LGBTQ+ students at Central Michigan University during their Pride Week. One of the students asked me, “When you worked on the Hill, did you lobby for LGBTQ+ rights?” I responded with a hearty laugh, a tinge of regret, a sense of optimism, and then downright anger. I’ll explain.
I vividly recall the 1992 presidential and congressional elections when I worked on Capitol Hill. That was 30 years ago. I was 28, gay, and not completely out of the closet. That’s because I was still not trusting society to fully accept who I was. And that became glaringly apparent during that election. So no, I didn’t lobby for gay rights because I feared the word gay.
I regret that. I was such a different person then. I still shake my head in disbelief that my name appears above columns that are all about things that affect the LGBTQ+ community on The Advocate, which I secretly read years ago. It’s astonishing to me. My 28-year-old self — and especially my 18-year-old self — would have never believed that I would have the honor to write about a community that I so desperately love and care about.
The context of the question from the student to me was that I was in a position of “power,” so to speak, so I could have effected change. The questioner, I’m sure, thought, Surely he advocated for rights, because I certainly would. That’s what made me sanguine. Young LGBTQ+ adults aren’t going to sit idly by while their rights are threatened. At least I hope they are not, because what’s happening now is beyond iniquitous.
Then I got angry.
Since that election 30 years ago, it appeared that hatred, at least in the public realm for the LGBTQ+ community, had waned somewhat. We were no longer the scourge of the Earth; in fact, we had legislatures, courts and presidents fighting for our causes, and in the process, children and teens and young adults, like the college students I spoke to, have become more comfortable being themselves and speaking out. Let’s hope that remains.
Those of you who did fight for the last 30 years and those of us who maybe cheered from the sidelines knew that we were fighting less for ourselves and more so for the next generation and all others that would follow. Essentially, the fight was for LGBTQ+ children, teens, and young adults, so they could grow up without any remorse, fear, or trepidation about being themselves.
Jesus said do not hinder the children; however, they are now being hindered in so many different ways.
Now that very right of authenticity and openness is being crushed, and I’m outrageously pissed off about what’s going on. There’s the onslaught of bans on LGBTQ+ books in nearly 200 school libraries — some that have nothing to do with being queer. There’s a race for laws denying gender-affirming treatment for trans kids — all passed by middle-aged and older white conservative men without medical degrees. What in God’s name gives them this right to interfere?
And there are a number of bills aimed at keeping trans kids out of youth sports.
Equally shocking, but of course not surprising, there's a flurry of activity by states to mimic Florida’s lie-riddled “don’t say gay” law with the bald-faced falsehood that it involves parental rights to oversee their child’s education.
What’s even more appalling is the use of the words “groomer” and “grooming” being so flippantly and wildly used by radical conservatives to defend the validity of the “don’t say gay” bills. These hateful creatures like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's corrosive press secretary are destroying and diluting these gruesome words.
I was groomed, and to hear these words being bandied around is an affront to all of us who were groomed and are still paying the price for it. Further, their use of “pedophiles” is outrageous and grossly offensive. There was a time when it was very wrongly presumed that gay men were pedophiles, so the use of these words takes us back to decades when gay men were considered deviants.
The incendiary comments by whacked playwright David Mamet that gay male teachers are pedophiles are beyond the realm, and right-wing news (they are NOT news) outlets labeling President Biden as "pedophile in chief." These vicious, vicious, incendiary words give license to others to speak in the devil's tongue.
It hit close to home for us here at The Advocate. As we reported, one of our editors, who is an exceptional human being, and his husband were called out as pedophiles on a train while their family traveled from Los Angeles to Oakland, Calif. Their two children were subjected to these words — and it might be very hard for them to ever forget the garbage that they heard about their fathers.
Everything we did to help the generations that followed us is being upended, all to scare parents and voters and anyone who harbors suspicions about gay and lesbian kids, and transgender children and their parents. But worse, these monsters and their monstrous acts are literally slicing the wrists of these children who yearn so badly to be themselves.
For any legislator, any governor, any senator, any parent who supports these bills, you can be certain of one thing: You will all burn in hell.
Why? Because you’re snuffing the life out of LGBTQ+ children who have enough pressure on them already. Do these accomplices to murder know that according to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ teens are far and away more likely to contemplate suicide than their straight peers? This was before all these sickening bills that have been enacted. God help us a year from now.
Why burn in hell? Because you are severely messing with the minds of these kids who will inevitably pay for all the damage later in their lives. Depression, anxiety, suicide — yes, all these things will be experienced because their small lives were thwarted by your cruelty.
I can trace part of the cause of my depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts later in life to the fact that my sexuality was messed with at a young age. Not just by a criminal priest, but because there was no chance in hell I could ever be myself until I was 30 years old. That f**** you up big time, and when you try to quash a child trying to figure out who they are, by making them feel like they are doing something wrong, then well … you should burn in hell for all their misery and agony.
Virtually all my contemporaries still talk about the tremendous pressure, pain, and fear they felt while they were trying so desperately to hide their sexuality growing up. Some even got kicked out of their homes. And that hasn’t changed for many kids. In fact, I wrote about how 28 percent of LGBTQ+ teens have experienced homelessness. I can’t even imagine what the statistics might be a year from now.
Some are being kicked out because their sexuality is “against God’s will” according to their bigoted parents. Do you know what is really against God’s will? Seeing children suffer. Check it, it’s in the Bible — many times. Including the quote above. And these same parents are undoubtedly voting for the legislators who voted for these bills of blasphemy. There’s a fierier place in hell for these so-called Christian parents.
I have no trouble condemning these people. They have condemned me — and all of us — for years. But condemning us is not as easy, it seems, as reproving their own kids. That’s disgusting. And I can’t think of a more worthy one-way ticket to hell than the actions of these brutal parents.
Why do we hear from all these heathens who are hell-bent on passing these laws when they are being debated or being signed into law? Why are they always the loudest voice in the room? Why does a “grooming” tweet by Greene elicit news coverage? Why, when Gov. DeSantis put his name on the “don’t say gay” bill, did we just get perfunctory “statements” from all the LGBTQ+ organizations? Even by President Biden.
Groups, organizations, and people need to boldly step up and counter all this hate, and help the kids who are in need. We reported earlier this week about what the Air Force is doing. The military branch is offering assistance to service members and their families who are affected by anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the states where they’re based. We need more people to step up, reach out, and provide help.
Maybe there’s nothing more we can do. But I don’t think that’s true. And if you're reading this, you know that as well.
These people are being so cruel to us, to the children in our community, with their deceitful words and actions. Where is the fire in our response? Where’s the fire in the response by politicians who disagree? With parents who disagree? I’m sure they’re out there, but something is abhorrently going wrong, and we need to scream at these people like they do to us, and on behalf of our children. We need to yell, “Go to hell!”
When you are young, and you can be yourself, you have so much hope not only for yourself but for the future of the society that you will contribute to someday. When you ask a kid what they want to do when they grow up, nine times out of 10 they start with the words “I hope…”
I’m older, wiser (that’s subjective), out and proud, and hanging on desperately to hope for our LGBTQ+ youth. I’m not a parent, but I understand the harm a child feels when they must smother who they truly are. Most of us who are older know how terribly toxic it is to feel that way. It can literally kill you.
How are we holding those accountable for what’s going on right now? Will there be any repercussions? There will be for the children, but how about for those who have done them so wrong?
I might not work in the halls of Congress anymore, but I’m not going to stay quiet this time. To the student who asked me if I advocated 30 years ago, I have a new answer: “No, but now I’m mad as hell at what’s going on, and for those supporting these bulls*** laws that are destroying LGBTQ+ youth, you'll burn in hell.”
John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.