Putnam County’s LGBTQ+ community members are under attack. At board of education meetings, community members have stood at podiums and called trans people, including children, sick and perverse. One person at a Carmel school board meeting recently had the gall to suggest that trans people are more likely to be mass shooters, based on exactly one instance of a mass shooting by a trans-identified person in any recent history, compared with the dozens to hundreds of straight, white cisgender male shooters who have terrorized our schools and communities for decades upon decades.
Local LGBTQ+ and ally business owners who are taking steps to host fun and affirming events are regularly being called “pedophiles” and “groomers” in social media groups and public meetings. Protests are being planned and threats are being made. The harassment, lies, defamation and general ugliness range from disgusting to illegal.
This is not something any community member should have to contend with, but I can’t help but feel encouraged, in a sense. Throughout history, when any movement toward social justice starts to take hold in a real way, there is a violent backlash from those desperately clinging to the status quo.
As our community moves toward change, there are bound to be loud voices of opposition. That’s OK. What’s not OK is publicly calling anyone who embraces LGBTQ+ identity a pedophile or groomer intent on sexually abusing children. If you support the views of someone who feels empowered to accuse their neighbors of a felony without so much as having ever met them, you might want to rethink your stance.
To be sure, this is a national narrative that is being parroted back by local puppets of the powers that be, but the local harm it is doing is real. If you don’t like drag events, don’t go. If you’re homophobic or transphobic, stay away from LGBTQ+ people and events, but you don’t get to tell public schools they can’t acknowledge and validate their students’ experiences.
The rhetoric being spewed by a handful of community members who seem to think it’s their job to oppose people’s identities and existence, and who are using children as the scapegoats to justify their hateful views, is going to result in actual violence in Putnam County if we allow it to continue escalating. No matter who you support, I doubt you want that.
No one is hurting you and, no matter how many lies you want to tell, no one is hurting children. We all have children we love in our lives; you are not the designated Defenders of All Children. We all want children to feel safe and included. You’re not making this community safer.
And just remember that the more aggressive, angry and defamatory you are, the more evident it is that we’re winning.
Eileen McDermott, Brewster
McDermott is the founder of Putnam Pride.
Every single day, all things evolve. The birds, the bees, the flowers and the trees, and, people too :-). We simply cannot control evolution. Embrace it. Live and let live.