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In a rare rant-style post, I take down the already-dubious logic of some silly thing I saw on the internet…because letting these statements stand is harmful, for so many reasons.

A rainbow flag version of the American flag. From Pixabay, in public domain.

Normally my posts here are a bit more…measured. But I’ve also been feeling really burned out lately, so I’ve been trying to pay attention to what makes the words flow like magic again, effortlessly leaping from fingertips to keyboard to screen. Apparently the magic lies in telling off stupid people on the internet, because I saw this image shared on a new person’s Facebook page (the sort of thing where a friend of a friend sends you a friend request, and you think “ok sure we have mutuals” and then you see what they actually post and are filled with regret).

But I couldn’t let this stand unremarked. Anyway, if you like this style of post, let me know, and I’ll see if I can make more happen, because goodness knows there is plenty for me to get incensed and ranty about on the internet.

Text reads: Veterans only get one day of recognition each year whereas gay people get an entire month. I think that’s insane. Since when did sleeping with the same sex become a bigger deal than the people who risked their lives for our freedom?

I made a brief placeholder WTF comment on the Facebook post. Then I wrote this (copied in full, unedited, for your reading pleasure):

Okay so… now that I’m settled for the evening, here’s a list of issues I have with this post.

1) You’re assuming that no veterans are also LGBTQ+ which is a huge (and erroneous) assumption to make. By conservative estimates, LGBTQ+ folks occupy maybe 2-3% of the population, so even with attempts to keep them out of the armed forces, I guarantee they’re present. How do you think they feel about this?

2) The LGBTQIA+ umbrella is pretty damn diverse. We’re not just talking about people who prefer same-sex partners (the L and G) but also people who are bisexual and/or pansexual (B), people who are transgender, agender, or non-binary or non-conforming (the T), people who are intersex (often represented as an I in one of the extended acronyms, and btw they’re probably hitting at least 1% of the population since intersex conditions are universally found among humans and are quite varied in addition to being quite common), people who are asexual (often an A in the extended acronym, which basically means they don’t experience much or any sexual desire, even though they may or may not be in sexual relationships with people; this also includes folks who are demisexual, or only feel sexual attraction once they’ve emotionally connected with someone, plus it might include people who are aromantic, or those who don’t experience romantic attraction in a mainstream way), plus the Q which stands for queer which makes for a pretty big umbrella under which all sorts of non-normative identities might fall.

…so in short you’re making a giant generalization about a pretty big swath of the population, even if that swath is a minority, coming in at 2-10% by certain counts I’ve seen.

3) Most scholars these days agree that LGBTQ+ identities are hard-wired in to some degree. There is evidence from neuroscientists that our brains have a set “gender” upon birth… and for many folks that brain gender is congruent with the body’s sex (itself not a simple binary category!), and that makes them cisgender (borrowing a Latin prefix meaning “on the same side as”), whereas for some folks the brain and body are at a disconnect, hence the label “transgender” (Latin for across/crossing). Similarly, sexual orientation does exhibit some flux over a person’s lifetime, but it’s usually not something we can consciously control.

…so this post is basically mocking people for standing up for basic human rights for a facet of their identity that is out of their control? Whereas people choose to join the armed forces? I’m of the opinion that it’s a pretty tacky move to blame and shame people for joining activist movements based on non-choice identity traits.

4) Also, simply joining the armed forces can lead to hardships in one’s life, yes. Totally agree it can be a difficult path to walk. And yet that is totally not the same thing as belonging to some of these LGBTQ+ group identities that are subject to harassment, violence, hate speech, murder, and more at a much higher rate than the general population. Many LGBTQ+ folks attempt suicide at way higher rates than the rest, and also have trouble securing steady employment due to discrimination/stigma, and also are more likely to be homeless, and also… you get the idea. The challenges that vets face suck, yes, but we are losing our LGBTQ+ kindred at an alarming rate to murder, suicide, and general poverty (which you’d think y’all would be on board for ending for everyone, which leads me to my next and final point)…

5) Why the f*ck are we not only casting these identities as mutually opposed and non-overlapping (which clearly they’re not, as established above) rather than establishing a movement that encourages treating ALL MARGINALIZED PEOPLE WELL?! Guess what, holding vulnerable/marginalized people in high regard and allocating resources to them is not like dividing up a f*cking pie. It’s not a limited good… or if you think it is, then honey, you have been sold a bill of goods by people who benefit from keeping their constituents divided, whether you want to think about that politically, economically, socially, etc.

We can pioneer social movements that bring more good to everyone, I promise. We don’t have to throw one marginalized group under the bus to benefit another. If you’re thinking this way, I really really need you to examine your assumptions and do better in the future.

And finally, not that this is an intellectual dick-waving contest, but I have a PhD in basically this stuff and I teach college classes on these concepts. I know what I’m talking about. I have citations for everything I’m writing here and have authored multiple blog posts on these topics, but I didn’t want to be too self-city so please feel free to ask for citations and/or links if you want them.

I do not accept homophobia and fear-mongering in my social circles. If there’s not a good response from the OP in a couple days’ time, I’m out, you can keep your hate-mongering to yourself.

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Jeana Jorgensen

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...