“You should watch the Republican debates and town halls,” my wife told me yesterday. “I know you don’t like the candidates, but you should know your enemy.”
I DO know my enemy. I’ve been following gay and lesbian politics and activism since I was 17 years old. I knew who people like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz were long before they broke onto the national stage—and I knew them because of the malicious, cruel things they were saying and doing to hurt me, my family, and my friends.
But still, I watched bits of the GOP town hall last night. Ben Carson talked quietly, as usual. As he’s not doing well in the polls, I didn’t pay much attention and spent that time finishing up some work.
I did watch Ted Cruz, however, and he absolutely terrified me. The feeling of dread and anxiety he left me with is exactly why I don’t watch Republican debates. It was like listening to a “call-and-donate-and-I’ll-heal-ya” televangelist. He was obsequious and slimy.
He was absolutely adamant in his promise to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage—the one that brought so much joy (as well as much-needed family protection) to so many people last summer. He spoke of Christians who are being persecuted (by not being allowed to practice their anti-gay beliefs at their jobs was the subtext)…all this while throughout the country, my transgender friends are facing jail time simply for using the correct restroom, gay people can be fired from their jobs if their bosses find out they have a same-sex spouse, and thousands of gay couples and families are watching this presidential race in absolute horror, knowing that their status as a family unit hangs in the balance based on the outcome of this election.
Don’t tell ME about persecution. When I came out, the religion in which I was raised labeled me as one of the worst kinds of sinners and I was told that I’d be destroyed as soon as the ever-looming End of the World arrived (thank you, Jehovah’s Witnesses). I was deemed a “biological error” by a beloved conservative talk show host when I was seventeen (thank you, Dr. Laura). As the years went on and gay people got tired of being beaten up, fired from their jobs, treated like strangers from the person with which they chose to spend their lives, and denied guardianship of their children, I watched conservative groups and politicians rally in order to make us into a threat to (of all things) family and marriage. We were the threat to these things while all we wanted to do was be safe, go to work, take care of our families and be able to take responsibility for our spouses. They painted us as the outcasts; the enemies to conservatism and the all-American way of life.
I’m so very weary. It’s frustrating having to filter your life on a social level and its downright anxiety-inducing to not be able to count on normal, everyday protections and respect on a legal level. I’m tired of feeling this worry; tired of gearing up for this fight over and over again. But don’t tell me about persecution, please. Experiencing these sorts of things make it easy for you to pick out the real persecutors very quickly.