Why Saying ‘Gay’ Matters

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and Texas’ order equating acceptance of transgender youth to child abuse, gaining attention throughout the country, it’s not surprising that in South Carolina people are distracted from the anti-LGBT and anti-trans bills being proposed in our very own backyard.  

In S.C., there are at least 12 bills targeting the LGBT+ community, three of those specifically targeting trans individuals. These bills focus primarily on the institutions of education, medical care and family relations. The bills are riddled with legal jargon and terminology, but I want to highlight a few target points of these bills and others like them, such as access, inclusion and de-humanization.  

These bills are proposed under the guise of protecting children and women, with the LGBT+ community being seen as this big, scary monster. This is nothing new, politicians have been attacking the LGBT+ community for years through various discriminatory bills and laws. Let’s not forget that same-sex marriage only became legal in all 50 states in 2015.  

Now, 2022 is ramping up to be the worst year yet for anti-LGBT and anti-trans legislation with discriminatory bills being proposed in over 30 states. 

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill and others like it aim to exclude the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity from our schools, medical facilities, and even our homes. Politicians push these bills by advocating for safety and protection when these bills are doing more harm than good. By outlawing the simple mention of LGBT+ topics, there is an overwhelming message being shared: being different is wrong, shameful and even criminal.  

With these harmful bills being focused on the youth of America, there is cause for more concern, as denying the possibility for identity-affirming care can lead to detrimental effects such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide. I know for me personally, having the knowledge of and access to LGBT+ topics at a younger age would’ve saved me from years of self-hatred, confusion, and attempts at suicide. 

As a member of the rainbow family, as I like to call it, I want to assure my goal is not to indoctrinate the masses or make the straight children gay. I simply want everyone to have knowledge of and access to LGBT+ topics, such as families with two mommies/daddies, trans girls playing sports with other girls, and trans/nonbinary individuals having access to affirming medical care. These bills are harmful in and of themselves, but they can also lead to further destruction.  

By erasing and criminalizing LGBT+ topics, support, and care, those directly affected will suffer the most. Think back to when your parents told you not to eat a cookie before dinner, you snuck a cookie anyway. Gaining access to identity-affirming information and care isn’t as simple as going into the kitchen to get a cookie, but the same rules apply when you’re told no, you become even more determined.  

In other words, I don’t want to make straight kids gay, I want gay, bi, trans, and queer children to live. 

Being a part of the LGBT+ community isn’t wrong. Talking about LGBT+ topics isn’t wrong. Supporting the LGBT+ community isn’t wrong.  

What is wrong, however, is denying people the ability to be themselves, authentically, openly, and freely. As a transgender man, I have a huge sense of pride in myself and my community because of the ability to speak openly about my experiences and having access to identity-affirming care. The overwhelming support, care, and love from my chosen family has also been essential in my journey.  

The bills in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina are not only harmful to those who identify within the LGBT+ community, but to those who aren’t sure where they fall in their identities, and those who support people in the community. These bills are fueled by uncertainty and fear which are exactly what will continue to spread throughout the world if they continue to pass. 

What we really need are bills that embrace the beauty of our differences and our unique personalities. Bills that embrace and expect open conversations about how different people and families exist in our world. Bills that allow individuals to learn, explore, and live their lives as authentically as possible through their time in education, medical facilities, and homes. 

Humans are inherently unique, and the more we celebrate and normalize our differences through inclusion and authenticity, the better off the world will be. 

If you are feeling scared, unsure, or even angry about these bills, and are a member or supporter of the LGBT+ community, you are not alone. I am too, but always remember, the rainbow family is strong, valiant, and we are not going anywhere.