I am probably not the only one embarrassed by the state I grew up and live in. This state, (Michigan), is overwhelmingly Republican and racist as all hell so it shouldn’t be surprising that it is also homophobic. Horror stories come from here all the time about deaths of LGBTQ individuals and harassment could result unless you’re in an liberal area like Ann Arbor or Royal Oak.
Thankfully, I see a lot more couples who don’t really care about potential risks and will hold hands with and kiss their partners in public regardless. Admittedly I’m even becoming one, but it doesn’t hide the fact that homophobia is still rampant in the world. Families are still not accepting, friendships get eliminated, and depending on where you choose to worship, you might not even be safe there either.
A seminar in Michigan called Unashamed Identity Workshop at a church called Metro City aims at young girls 12 to 16 struggling to accept their identity. For $200, this six week program was, (or is), created to make these young women “unashamed of their true sexual identity given to her by God at birth.” Even a bit of transphobic language is used with the words in parentheses “by birth”.
I ran into this event on Facebook and did some research to see if perhaps this was made up and it was not. The event was indeed posted on the church website, but has been removed. I imagine this was due to a large, necessary amount of backlash towards the homophobic and transphobic tone of such a seminar.
LGBTQ people of a young age definitely are in the earliest stages of acceptance. Surviving through the general ridiculousness that is adolescence is hard enough but to add sexual and gender identity only makes growing up so much worse. Especially if you’re brought up in a home and even church environment that would look at you as unworthy of love, (or even a home), and an “abomination”. Girls, (I imagine), are especially going through hell in their teen years.
To aim the event towards only young women adds a distinct layer of sexism that has always been deeply involved in tons of religions, (not to mention a high creep factor with the age limit). LGBT women are highly fetishized but hardly ever taken seriously by the cis-gender community with comments always labeling them as “confused, ignorant of themselves” or “just haven’t found the right man yet.”
LGBTQ individuals don’t really need to be guided by the same forces that would rather them fake a sexual attraction to please a god or be alive in every other capacity but deny our sexual desire. Churches and religion make the largest contributions to the homophobic atmosphere we live in as they focus on small passages about homosexuality but nowhere near as passionate about verses concerning slavery, fornication, children born outside of marriage, adultery, child abuse, domestic abuse, sexism, and the list goes on.
One can only hope of a brighter future for LGBTQ youth but workshops like this, (and I’m sure there’s more across the country), reek of conversion therapy. Exorcisms, electric shock, and chemical castration were methods used in efforts to “cure” homosexuality prior to the 80’s.
Which makes figures like James Baldwin, RuPaul, Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, and Emile Griffith survivors of a much harsher social climate than the one in the present. Although their stories of strength in the midst of adversity prove that perhaps eventually it will get better, how exactly can we move forward?
Conversion therapy for minors is still legal, (and pointless), throughout the vast majority of the U.S. and the percentage of suicidal minded LGBTQ youth is much higher than their heterosexual counterparts. Tv shows, movies, novels, anime, and comics have seen a significant rise in the inclusion of LGBTQ characters but that’s clearly not enough to prevent thoughts of suicide in youth and adults. So how do we change the narrative about us?
Keep speaking. Keep writing. Keep the conversation going. Keep shutting down events such as this.
But most importantly, keep making them feel so embarrassed by their efforts to change something they have a problem with, not you.