The Blog Post That Will Get Me Shunned

IMG_3598I haven’t been posting to this blog recently. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been … publishing. Lotsa drafts abandoned, unpublished.

The reason: I have been feeling as though the LGBTQ movement is passing me by. That what I perceive as a move to the left by those who are most vocal and adamant has left me feeling strangely without a voice. Or, more precisely, afraid if I voice what is true for me, I will get in trouble.

Let me say up front that my mission in life is to help young people learn to love themselves. Especially LGBTQ young people. That’s what matters to me. That’s what has me writing books aimed specifically at that population.

Let me say secondarily that I am willing to admit that maybe I no longer have the right voice for this task. That maybe I need to think about writing something different, because it may be that the tenets of the LGBTQ movement have fundamentally changed. Or maybe I’ve changed. I don’t know.

I’ve always been all about authenticity. And I’m a writer. As such, I’ve decided to write what is true for me, and let the pieces fall where they may.

Here are some things I believe that are politically incorrect:

I believe Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos should have been allowed to speak at Berkeley. Suffice it to say I am not a fan of either. I disagree with them politically, morally, in just about every way possible. But unless they are LITERALLY yelling fire in a crowded movie theater–not metaphorically, but literally–I believe that our constitution allows them the right to speak their minds. Even if their ideas are despicable. It’s not that I don’t get the concern that their words fan the flames of hatred. I feel that they do, most certainly. But if they were invited to speak, I do not believe they should be silenced for voicing ideas that I don’t agree with. I believe picketing is the way to address this issue. Stand up for what you believe in, and speak out about it. But for me, shouting down speakers who voice alternative opinions is not right. Neither is violence.

I believe that people who are anti-LGBTQ have the right to speak. I saw an article today that was about the St. Louis Cardinals bringing in Lance Berkman to speak on Christian Day.  People are outraged, because he said some inflammatory things about the transgender bathroom issue.

Again: I do not really understand the outrage. I disagree with Berkman on the transgender bathroom issue. In fact, I think he does not fully understand the issue about which he speaks. But the Cardinals have a Christian Day. This is a day for Christians. Why does the speaker’s opinion on this issue matter? Must LGBTQ people sign off on his views before he is allowed to speak?

I believe we are incorrectly focusing on silencing hate rather than overcoming it. What has happened to our culture, that we are so afraid of inflammatory words or ideas? Are we becoming so fragile that we cannot handle conflict of this nature? It’s as though we’re afraid we will combust if we are made to hear words that offend us. We will not. Especially if we work on growing more resilient as a people.

I believe we are miseducating young people. Instead of teaching our youth to grow strong and to love ourselves as we are, I fear we are teaching them that any time they are offended, it is unacceptable.

But here’s the thing: the world is offensive. It will always be that way. If you’re waiting for the day that people will all agree on issues of race, sexual orientation, gender, and religion, to name a few, you’ll be waiting forever. Never in the history of our planet have all people agreed–on anything. So those micro aggressions will continue to happen.

I believe we are unbreakable. My vision for our world is one where we all have the strength and self-respect to weather these moments of conflict. That when we are angry, we can learn to deal with that anger. Also, that when we are angry, we can look inside and see our part in that emotion. As RuPaul once said, “Your opinion of me is none of my business.” How true. If I am falling apart every time someone says something that is anti-gay, I need to look at my own house. I need to clean up my side of the street, and that side, to me, is about self-love.

I believe in fighting against injustice. There are real things to be upset about right now. People of color are being systematically oppressed and killed by prejudicial and racist policing policies, and the world is less safe for young Black and Latino people. That’s something we need to act upon. And I understand how words are connected to actions, so I get that it is inflammatory when hate speech is spoken. Flames are fanned, and I hate that. I have felt it most of my life, as a gay man and a Jew.

Our environment seems to be in trouble, and somehow the United States has pulled out of an agreement that was made to help save our earth. This is infuriating to me.

LGBTQ people in Chechnya are being rounded up and in some cases killed. This is something we must battle.

But when it comes to ideas and words, I have to say that I’m concerned about where our current path leads. If only language that is “correct” is acceptable, what do we do with our thoughts that are “incorrect”? Because, in fact, we are all incorrect sometimes. And who gets to decide what is correct?

I believe we must figure out how to co-exist. Let’s learn to listen respectfully to each other. Let’s learn to talk to each other, regardless of disagreement. Let us endeavor to weather the storms of hurt feelings that happen in a pluralistic society.


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11 Responses to The Blog Post That Will Get Me Shunned

  1. I have been thinking many of these same things, lately. Thank you for putting them into the words I have been struggling to find.

  2. Matt McMann says:

    Very well said, Bill! A needed message artfully rendered as usual. Thank you for that.

  3. javabear says:

    Yes. Speak this. Write this. Publish books with this theme.

  4. Mary K says:

    This post makes you immensely qualified to continue the amazing work you do!! Our young people need your perspective.

  5. Sara | Novel Novice says:

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Freedom of speech means freedom of all speech, not just the speech you agree with or find not offensive.

    THANK YOU for writing this; you’ve perfectly captured things I’ve been feeling for a while now and didn’t quite know how to voice.

  6. Ben says:

    Well written. I have become increasingly frustrated with leftbook and similar thought-policed environments. Not only does it discourage discussion with “the other side,” it prohibits anyone from questioning anything. It is extreme leftist Fundamentalism.

  7. Brianna H. says:

    I completely agree with this (as an LGBT teen). There are so many people these days that will take an instant to get offended at something but take a lifetime to do anything productive to fix the problem. If we want anyone to respect us and our opinions, we must first learn to, at minimum, tolerate others’ opinions. I’m lucky enough to have friends on both sides of the political spectrum, and that is largely due to all of us being willing to listen to one another, even if we disagree. I’m a big believer in co-existence because, when it comes down to it, we have one life, and I’d much rather spend that time trying to cooperate and make life better than fighting and trying to squash anyone I disagree with.

  8. tiffanycloud says:

    If these words spoken get you shunned, well, then that alone proves your point. Anyone who cannot hear correction or a call to examine themselves is part of the problem regardless of which side they are on. The greatest gift we can give ourselves, others and the world, is to listen to understand.

  9. Ash Martin says:

    You need to keep writing, because this post represents a message that desperately needs to be heard.

  10. I’m a super lefty socialist skewing liberal and agree with you. I loathe the silencing of voices we don’t want to hear…Let them speak so everyone can hear how horrible they are. I’m a firm believer in “Give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves.”

    “We are incorrectly focusing on silencing hate rather than overcoming it.” Great line, one I’ll share.

    I doubt your writing will be out of sync with LGBTQ youth anytime soon as you address core truths about coming of age in a not-by-society’s-book manner. Honestly Ben is definitely in step with contemporary sexuality, those who basically identify as “I am what I am.”

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