Love will triumph over hate in Chester County

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

I guess it is easy to hate someone if you “non-person” them. More interestingly, people are using a twisted version of faith to justify such behavior.

Whether it is kidnapping migrants — here legally on an asylum application — or the despicable torrent of emails sent to West Chester Borough officials over OUTFest, we have a hate problem, not just nationally, but locally.

Some people will tell you — politicians and cable TV commentators — that migrants and members of the LBGTQ+ community are somehow lesser people, less deserving of equal respect and status. Now, women as an entire gender are being told they are unable to make decisions about their bodies — that they too are lesser and must bend to the wishes of those who see themselves as superior.

This seeming argument that some of us are superior — more moral, more special somehow because of some falsely righteous stand – is one of the least American things I can imagine. This is a country in which it is enshrined that we are all created equal.

Although the original innocuous event was cancelled, it is being replaced by a rally Oct. 1 and a march, both of which will garner much, much more media attention. If anything, the people who caused the initial cancellation are proving to be less than brilliant in their attempt to quash the local LBGTQ+ community.

This local issue highlights what has been a disturbing trend in recent years.

In the last few years, it seems like some people want to openly elevate themselves by declaring others as somehow lesser. It’s a human trait, I know — and one that used be less openly discussed. But these days we see it right out in the open with race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation/identity. 

If you make someone a “non person,” you can justify treating them inhumanely, I guess, and that makes some people feel superior. That sort of thinking had led to some of the greatest tragedies in human history from the Holocaust to slavery.

Sadly, the reality is exactly the opposite: it is the people judging others who reveal themselves to be lesser, less compassionate, less part of the human family.

And it is this sort of person losing their crap because there were going to be performances by drag queens at the original event, a fact that is pathetic and revealing. 

The “but the kids” argument is ridiculous on numerous fronts. First off, parents don’t have to bring their kids — or themselves for that matter — to an event like OUTFest. Don’t like it, do something else, but there’s no need to dump on people trying to enjoy and take pride in their shared community.

Second, the “Oh noes, drag queens are bad for kids” claim is flat out nuts. We all grew up on Bugs Bunny cross-dressing in cartoons — that didn’t seem to cause much impact. For those of us a bit older, we remember Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine. And countless TV shows, plays and films (Bosom Buddies, Tootsie, Some Like It Hot) with cross dressing characters. Such portrayals date back to the literal beginning of theater — in many societies, women were banned from acting, so men played the roles of women.

Drag queen shows are actually pretty tame — a little light gender humor and a lot of Broadway songs. The skill level is often off the charts and the shows are fun and entertaining (yes, I’ve seen drag shows right here in Chester County). 

Beyond the need to elevate themselves, I don’t understand why anyone cares. If you think having a different sexual orientation or identity is wrong, then live your life as a CIS-gendered straight person. If you happen to be a closeted member of the LBGTQ+ community, raging about things like this, well, it seems like a lousy way to go through life, but that, too is your right and choice.

Exposure to people in LBGTQ+ community won’t turn other people gay. What it does do it make people realize that they’re just people, like you, like me. With the same hopes and fears, the same desire for love, family and community as anyone else. They are our brothers and sisters in the human family.

Exposure to diversity doesn’t corrupt a person; it makes them see a wider world, enables acceptance and peace.

Cynically, some people — like those who wrote abusive emails to local officials — don’t want to see that exposure for others because it will make it clear how small, how narrow minded these people are.

The truth is always revealed — and this Saturday’s rally will reveal what we already know: a large majority of people in Chester County support the LBGTQ+ community. These are our friends and neighbors — and our kids in some cases.

And on Saturday, love will triumph over hate, and I will be that much prouder to live in Chester County.    

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