Blog / 2022 / Calling All Allies
March 25, 2022
Of all the scary that we’ve got going on in the US, the self-censorship at school libraries is wigging me out the most. Books are a powerful tool for self-discovery of course, but I think they play an even more important role in helping us to discover how other people think. And as this excellent article about resisting manipulation by embracing all your identities makes clear, that curiosity about other people is vital to the well-being of our species.
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It’s only getting scarier out there for queer people, women, and nonwhite people. Across the country, school libraries are quietly removing books from shelves before conservative parents can even challenge the titles. Couple that self-censorship with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the rash of anti-trans legislation across the US, the anti-abortion bills, the attacks on voter rights, and the inability for any community to defund the police and instead fund education, social services, housing, and healthcare in any meaningful way, and it’s just not a fun time to be anything but a straight white cis male in America.
And Putin’s invasion of Ukraine adds a layer to the scary. To explain: early on in his reign, the Russian dictator chose traditionalism as his rallying cry. Being against queerness, against feminism, and against multiculturalism has been his way of uniting the Russian people—both the religious ones and the non-religious ones who were looking for a national identity after communism.
But Putin’s traditionalist thrust doesn’t stop at Russia’s borders. It’s got global ambitions. The violence in Ukraine makes that tangible, but for years Putin has waged an information and funding war across the world. You can see it in the GOP and in conservatives in many countries who are heavily influenced and generously paid by the Russian fascist.
Combined with the mass murder that Putin is committing in Ukraine, the particularly virulent bent of traditionalism raging across the planet has a certain quality of Germany in the 1930s. I’m talking about when the gay culture that had flourished under a leniency in censorship in Weimar Germany was destroyed by Hitler as he leveraged discomfort with queerness to unify Germans behind his desire for power.
Right now, more than ever, we need to be visible allies to each other. Every rainbow flag is a signal to American conservatives that it’s going to be a lot harder than they’d like to censor the queer out of our culture. Every Black Lives Matter lawn sign is another reminder to them that while they have more money—Russian money—those of us who want the world the be a fairer, more compassionate place outnumber those who think that the 1950s were just the best.
It may seem like a small thing, but the courage to display the way you care for women, nonwhite people, queer people, disabled people, and every marginalized person is vital. Be an intersex inclusive progress pride flag bunny! Be a visible ally.
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