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I can't keep pretending to care about [insert activist] saying [insert ridiculous thing]

by Jeremy Hooper

Tonight in Florida, militant anti-equality activist Tony Perkins, who insists Christians need not abide by marriage laws, will be telling the faithful they need to "reclaim America."

The far-right is going around spinning outright myths about one of those handful of fake "victims" who chose to discriminate against paying customers.

Not-ever-going-to-be-president Rick Santorum is crowing about a fallacious speech he gave to a NOM gala that I'm not sure even NOM's own communications department knew was happening.

Reality TV personalities, who seems to be the biggest superstars on the far-right, are repeating their insistence that Satan is gonna getcha for the gay marriage.

Basically all of the usual suspects are throwing out wacky scenario after wacky scenario for what is supposedly going to happen now that all fifty states have equal marriage.

And you know what? I can't find any reason or drive to care about any of it. With my life filled with enough obligations to (over)fill a day and many more goals that I'm struggling to find the time to realize, it's become quite tough to sit down and dignify the fear-mongering of a team that has already lost. To care about a team that has already taken years of my time already.

I never started covering this "culture war" stuff because I needed a campy soap opera filled with exaggerated characters going about their various grifts. I didn't get involved in politics because I saw it as some never-ending back-and-forth in which modern-day Hatfield and McCoys mock and insult each other for sport. I wasn't ever interested in changing an unbendable dogmatist's clearly entrenched beliefs or heaping undo burdens onto those who tried to unburden my own life journey. None of that was of interest.

I got into this fight because I wanted to move forward with the tangible rights and protections that we were denied. The extreme anti-LGBT activists were relevant because they were the ones denying things like hate crimes protections, DADT repeal, and marriage rights in all fifty states and federally. When the conversation was less formed and polls were less favorable, the in-power conservatives relied on the professionally discriminatory to shape the way forward. It was important to push back against the harsh rhetoric so that it didn't take hold.

But now is not then. We've won some MAJOR battles. More importantly, we and our powerful allies from all the top channels of public life have won the messaging war in a way that seems near-irreversible. And let me tell you, I say that last part as someone who has always approached this fight as a pendulum that could always swing back against us. I'm just having a tough time seeing how, at this point and with so much behind us, that pendulum could swing back in a way that could deny us our hard-fought victories. It's practically impossible for that to happen.

It's almost hard to imagine a political reality where the anti-equality/pro-discrimination activists reclaim any kind of real power. Sure, they'll still be players in the GOP primary process, since I'm fairly certain the Republican Party has just conceded that their nominating process is going to be a quadrennial public relations shitshow that does considerable damage until they eventually nominate a relatively more moderate choice anyway. However, with the demographics being what they are and the playing field being what it is, it's really hard to see how even a future Republican administration and Congress turns into an all-out instrument of wrath against LGBT citizens and LGBT rights. It's a ship that has sailed (even though it never should've in the first place).

There are of course fights left to win, and I plan to fight them. I think what I'm saying is that I think I see better ways to fight them from here on out. Those who have staked their names and legacies on saying incredulous things about us as they continue on their crusades against civil rights are unlikely to ever stop attacking our lives and loves and families and marriages for as long as we live. There will always be some of them, as there are always some who continue to oppose every minority population. However, those of us who want to have an adult conversation about America as it moves forward need not concern ourselves with extreme activists' chosen bugaboos. Powerless, purposeless, politically ineffective ranting might entertain some, but again, I didn't get into those whole thing for entertainment. I have Netflix.

So what do I think is pertinent for moving forward in this particular fight? Well, the next presidency, first and foremost. While I don't think drastic reversals could happen on the LGBT rights victories we've achieved, I do absolutely believe an unfriendly administration could make it very difficult to move forward with an even sharper vision of how to secure freedoms for all vulnerable people. For one, this next man or woman could get five or more SCOTUS picks. Also, the next president could removed much of the capital, cultural as much as political, that has been so instrumental in creating an inclusive America. Many of us have grown accustomed to feeling included; it would be a shame to move backwards.

Also, I think it's key for us to now use this time to share positive stories of our lives as we live them. We have been given a great spotlight, and it is up to us to seize it. The biggest reason all polling shows younger Americans of all stripes becoming more pro-LGBT with every passing year is because our existences are no longer theoretical discussions or crude portrayals scripted by hostile pens. Now, with the wind so fully under our sails, it is up to us to share the day-to-day patches from our lives' quilts. We've always known that doing so is the single most powerful thing we can do to change hearts and minds. Now, it's almost something more than that. Now, our thriving realities are like nails in the coffins of the damaging far-right myth-making that held this political conversation by the taint for all of the twentieth century and the first part of the twenty-first.

Third, we need to work together and take care of struggles, lingering and new, that persist within the LGBT community. After so many decades of fighting, some psyches are understandably bent. Long-underserved populations are aging. The ongoing HIV/AIDS struggle is filled with new frontiers that are confusing to young and old alike. Even with all of this progress, many still need help healing wounds perpetuated by their own non-accepting loved ones. Marginalized lives still sometimes lead to being pushed out to the margins. There are many ways to create more and greater peace within, which is a powerful reason to dedicate less time to those who tried to cause us so much strife (and in many ways created some of the problems) from the outside.

And there are surely other areas of focus. But I do think a shift in focus is desperately needed. It is for me, at least. I hope you will stick around for those future journeys, as we figure them out together.

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