Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, a big thing was ‘tolerance’, that we had to learn how to tolerate people who could hate and hurt others if given the opportunity because if we ‘tolerated’ them, then maybe they wouldn’t physically hurt others. By 2016, tolerance was declared dead. Tolerance was a good idea but I think back then, no one could see how would be totally destroyed by the weaponization of hatred through massive propaganda and programming courtesy of right-wing media and social media along with pure greed by gun manufacturers and others to profit off of hate and death.
This past Saturday, that weaponization of hatred resulted in the deaths of five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado Spring, Colorado. Club patrons overpowered the gunman with no weapons of their own but a determination to save other lives. Yet right-wing politicians have spouted the absolute total fucking bullshit line of ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the victims when they themselves are guilty of inciting violence against the LGBTQ+. And if this pisses you off by reading this, keep reading because I’m not going to let up here.
Hate speech is speech that incites others to commit acts of violence. Hate speech demonizes a particular group of people with lies and disinformation and seeks to drive a group of people into silence and out of sight if they dare to live openly and honestly. Hate speech is about turning one group of people against another for the gain of power and wealth for the perpetrator of the hate speech.
Words matter. Words can be used to hurt, and to incite violence and mass murder.
This is why tolerance has been declared dead and buried because tolerance equals silence. Because those who speak with hatred will not be silenced despite what they may say about being ‘canceled’ or any bullshit like that. I know by speaking out like I have and am doing now I’m pissing someone off.
My father taught me at a very early age that hatred is a poison of the mind, the heart, and the soul. He taught me you have to fight hatred from taking root inside you. I have learned to do that by asking those who do hate, who do use hate speech to ask themselves why they think and feel the way they do and to keep asking until they find all the answers they can. And I also give warning that they may not like the answers they find, and they will have to deal with those answers. Because I can tell you why I think and feel the way I do.
In the 1980’s when my mother was going through her rebellious period as I call it, one way she rebelled was to learn about homosexuality and seeing past the homophobia she’d been raised on. She shared this with me as we watched so many young gay men die of AIDS and be condemned and hated on simply because they were gay. I watched in silent awe at the activist group ACT UP as they fought with incredible courage and bravery to save the lives of their friends and lovers. And like millions of other Americans, I will always remember that glorious day in 2013 when the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and we shouted, “LOVE WINS!!!”
But I knew then the backlash would be brutal, and bloody. Sadly, like many things in this world right now, things will get worse before they get better. But like the group ACT UP taught us, silence equals death. And we have to break our silence and never go silent.
So if reading this still pisses you off, ask yourself why.
To my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer brothers and sisters and non-binaries: I love you.
And I believe with all my heart and soul love will always win.