Truth Wins Out:

Premature declarations of total victory aren’t aging well

One of the keys to successful activism is discernment. It’s a knack for predicting trends and an innate ability to accurately judge intensions. It’s the capacity to differentiate between sweet talkers and serpents. One must have an acute understanding of human nature, look to history as a guide, pore over current events and ultimately tie disparate parts into a cohesive narrative that predictively gauges threat assessment.
An occupational hazard for activists, is that prescience is sometimes confused with paranoia, and they are inaccurately labeled Cassandras for voicing legitimate caution. On the international stage, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania warned their NATO allies for years of the Russian menace. Many leading NATO members were so delusional that they swore Russia wouldn’t invade Ukraine, even as 150,000 troops gathered at the border for “exercises”.
“Unfortunately, up until Feb. 24, we’ve been labeled in the West as alarmist,” Rihards Kols, the chair of the foreign affairs committee in the Latvian Parliament said of the Baltic states. “But we are past the point of ‘I told you so.’ What we are saying now is, ‘Thank you [NATO] for recognizing that we were right, but do listen to us now.’”
The LGBTQ community is suffering, in some quarters, from the same “Rose Colored Glasses Syndrome”. After marriage equality in 2015 many community leaders thought that the fight for equality had ended. This view of premature victory is best articulated by Andrew Sullivan, a gifted gay conservative writer who is unusually smart, yet somehow usually wrong on virtually every issue. His arguments can be brilliant, yet the conclusions perpetually bungled. According to Sullivan:
“If you glance at media aimed at gays, lesbians, and transgender people, you might imagine we are living in a state of siege,” he wrote in a 2019 essay that isn’t aging well. “Check out the website for the biggest gay lobbying group, the Human Rights Campaign, and you will find that gays and lesbians and transgender people have been under constant attack…Those whose livelihoods are built on defending victims have an interest in sustaining a victim paradigm for gay America, in which they are the saviors…For many, I hope, that [the future] will mean just getting on with our lives, without our sexual orientation getting in the way…as the long night of persecution gives way to the dawning of integration.”
We all hope for such a sunny future, but unfortunately, the Religious Right didn’t get the memo. The warnings from activists, like myself, are not about “livelihoods”, as Sullivan glibly says, but about saving lives. As the new “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida (and its copycat bills) portends, the battle is far from over. Just because Sullivan is too exhausted to continue fighting, doesn’t mean our opponents have run out of energy or purpose.
Gay Fort Lauderale Mayor, Dean Trantalis, is another practitioner of irrational exuberance. Believing that the LGBTQ movement had achieved total victory, he inexplicably honored Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church last year with a proclamation. This is a deeply homophobic religious cult that has long opposed basic LGBTQ rights and promotes “pray away the gay” programs. Advocates, including myself, warned the mayor that there was no evidence that Coral Ridge had changed its wicked ways. Instead of humbly listening and accepting reality, Trantalis stole a page from Sullivan’s playbook, blaming LGBTQ activists for living in the past and holding grudges.  
“It’s time to build a future based on love and not hate, and it’s time for those who still harbor resentment to let go of it,” Mayor Trantalis said in response to criticism. “I know I have, and I know my community has.”
Trantalis was rewarded for his magnanimous gesture by Coral Ridge leaders going on Facebook to compare gay nuptials to marrying a Volkswagen. On Sunday, Trantalis suffered a fresh round of humiliation when Coral Ridge Senior Pastor, Rob Pacienza was asked by the Sun-Sentinel what was “the most important issue” affecting him. Instead of ending world hunger and homelessness, or perhaps, stopping war crimes in Ukraine, the holy man used this opportunity to express support for the state’s noxious “Don’t Say Gay” law.
“Previous to this bill becoming law, schools could go as far as treating a child as the opposite gender without notifying the child’s parents,” Pacienza said. “Bureaucrats should not be teaching children about these critical moral issues. Instead, it is the role of the family, and more specifically, the parent.”
The good Christian pastor brazenly lied when he claimed schools were teaching about transgender people. He falsely referred to transgender issues as “moral” when it’s medical. There is also a good reason why parents aren’t always notified. For example, a trans kid might have religious bigots as parents who will send them to a destructive Coral Ridge-approved conversion torture program.
As far as I can see, it would take the mayor’s proctologist to find his absurd proclamation, after the way he was treated by Coral Ridge. There is a reason that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels Coral Ridge a hate group. It’s time that Trantalis abandons his fantasy world and defends his community against ongoing attacks from his new church buddies.
It’s important to note that LGBTQ advocates were never upset that Trantalis approached Coral Ridge for reconciliation. But the mayor was Orwellian when he told us that he was building bridges, when they were clearly burning. As a result, he gave cover to a hate church and damaged LGBTQ youth across the Sunshine State.  
In another example of prematurely throwing the confetti, the San Francisco-based Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund is a key source of LGBTQ funding. They recently decided the LGBTQ fight was over and redirected millions of dollars to other causes. (Although they will give for another two years to existing grantees)
What are they thinking? Not only will their funds disappear at a time when our community is under a full-blown attack, but to make up for the gaping hole in budgets, organizations will be forced to compete like The Hunger Games for a shrinking pool of community grant money. Haas should strongly reconsider and actually expand desperately needed funding for LGBTQ organizations. (Full disclosure, my organization, Truth Wins Out, had previously received grants as large as $60,000 from Haas. They were wonderful to work with, incredibly helpful and instrumental to the organization’s success. That’s why they are critically important and irreplaceable)
People need to understand that the Religious Right is composed of angry, brainwashed zealots who will never surrender. They will continue bitterly resisting to their last dying breaths. The tragic truth is that there is no “finish line” in the fight for fairness. In the same way we are having to fight for LGBTQ equality, we are also forced to relitigate voting rights, racism, immigration and reproductive choice. Not only are these fights not over, as some foolishly think, they are in their infancy.  
It’s irrational to think that thousands of years of oppression and traditional bigotry would simply dissolve into thin air because of a few Supreme Court rulings or legislative victories. Like the Baltic leaders, LGBTQ activists are also past the point of “I told you so.” Given the troubling and undeniable facts on the ground, and the obstacles that we face, we shouldn’t have to. The right-wing troops are at our border, and we can no longer remain in deadly denial.
Wishful thinking should never be confused with wisdom and a movement can’t be run on hallucinations and happy talk. It’s time to buck up and buckle in because we have a long ride ahead of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exceptional Quality and On-Time Delivery with Our Essay Writing Services Comprehensive Writing Services to Deliver Your Best Results Reliable and Professional Writing Services for All Your Essay Needs Get the Perfect Essay Results with Our Professional Writing Services Unlock Your Essay Writing Potential with Professional Writing Help