These were the words spoken to me within 20 min of a 2 1/2 hr car ride to an event with someone who I had known for years. Shortly followed by, she doesn’t want her son in second grade to have to think about whether he is a boy or a girl or reading books about sucking cock. Let’s absorb all of this. Were you aware that this was going on in our current education system?? I surely wasn’t.
These were her arguments about the Governor of Florida’s current “Don’t Say, Gay,” law, or as she curtly reminded me, it is the Parental Rights law. It is about giving parents the right to choose she says. I didn’t say this at the time but seeing as how I’ve had the conversation about 30 times since it happened, what I should have said was, that they aren’t giving parents the right to choose. The government is now choosing for you, what content to exclude from the curriculum using very vague criteria, leaving plenty of room for whitewashing and removal of diversity and culture. It creates a less safe space for kids who need more support, not less.
All of these comments came from someone who in the last 5 years, I’ve had numerous conversations with about how when I was 5, I cried myself to sleep every night because I was gay and thought there was something wrong with me. So to tell me that your son in second grade should be thinking about childhood games and not whether or not he is a boy. First of all, you don’t make a decision about gender or sexuality. And yes, it is something many kids are aware of and are thinking about as young as the age of 5. I know because that was me, and you know, because I’ve told you.
For years I’ve disclosed to her many of the challenges I’ve experienced as a butch lesbian living in a very red area. I have a serious fear of using public restrooms for fear of my safety and being harassed. I’ve been physically intimidated before by men at events for going into the women’s restroom. I’ve had people chase me down, stop me as I go in, give me evil stares both before, while in the bathroom, and upon exiting, and the list goes on. I get called the wrong pronoun regularly. I’ve been in therapy for many years to deal with my anger and trauma around these events. I am not trans but I empathize a lot with their struggles because of some of my battles, they too experience, but worse. I bring this up because in the car I tried to explain to her that it impacts me personally when people vote republican because they are voting to put the people in the office that are there today who are actively trying to take away my human rights and the rights of others.
She then repeatedly wanted me to tell her what rights they were trying to take away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quote her any. It became a very circular conversation for a bit. I honestly am not a good debater. I am not a persuasive individual. It is not a skill I currently possess. In fact, whenever I’ve been in a space to debate with anyone, generally I just cause them to dig their heels in deeper, which were already dug in deep as most are when it comes to political beliefs (on both sides). If I were a good debater, I should have asked her to cite her sources for this education curriculum that was teaching kids to suck cock. That I am sure would have been interesting. Later, after we parted ways, I decided I would do some research on republican anti-LGBT laws. I didn’t want to ever be in a similar debate and come up blank. So I did a quick google, and in two seconds, the first 3 articles that came up, all recent within the last 2 months, were from credible news sources, discussing the hundreds of anti-LGBT laws that states have introduced just this year.
In my debate with this person whom I thought to be a friend, I explained that on top of the Republicans attacking my rights as an LGBT person they are attacking women’s rights by trying to take away their power of choice over their own bodies. She asked how and I said by overturning Row vs Wade. She said they aren’t overturning it, they are just giving the power back to let individual states decide. And I said great, so we can have more states like Texas making the fucked up decisions they are making. And she said well then people who don’t like it can just move. Wow.
She kept saying that Democrats were taking away an individual’s right to choose. Yet, here she was defending the fact that Republicans are actively taking away women’s right to choose. Again the conversation became circular for a bit. She proceeds to tell me she is pro-abortion and how she had one last year at 6-weeks pregnant. Then in my replay of the conversation later in my head, the I should have said comment was, next year if you get pregnant again, be prepared to move because you can bet that Florida will be next to pass some shit like Texas.
No matter how many times I replay the conversation, I can’t understand how she can say Democrats are taking away people’s right to choose. How? Is she referring to us fighting for better gun safety laws (which btw does not mean we want to take your guns away). Or is it in reference to mask mandates or covid vaccinations? She does realize that Covid is a global thing right? And that 11.7 Billion people worldwide have been vaccinated. And that hundreds of countries had mask mandates? I found a link with all the countries with mask mandates: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/countries-with-mask-mandates.
I don’t know.
How did this whole political conversation begin? She was telling me about a new guy she started dating and that he was friends with a mutual person we know. She asked if I knew her, I said yes, but didn’t much care for her. She is a white straight upper-class woman, who posts tons of very far-right-winged stuff. And like most people who do that, I use the tools available to me on Facebook and de-friend. And that is how the whole conversation got started.
It does make me sad, that being friends for 5 years. The things I’ve shared over that time. My experiences. Clearly, none of that impacted her thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. And honestly I don’t know where any of this even came from. This was the first time in 5 years she said she was a republican or defended their views. She always said she was an independent before and we agreed on many things. If nothing I shared in the last 5 years had made a difference, there weren’t going to be any other words I could have said in that moment that would have either. So I did my physical equivalent version of Facebook unfriend. Let me out of this car.
I’m exhausted and saddened by the whole exchange. It is super late but I wanted to get this out of my head so that tomorrow could be a fresh start.