Stop Sexualizing the Queer Community – The Daily Utah Chronicle


Homophobia, whether an individual realizes it or not, contributes to the inherent sexualization of LGBTQ+ communities. Many mistakenly refer to mere support for queer and trans people as being sexual in nature. Portraying LGBTQ+ support as sexual when it clearly isn’t inflates the issue further, making anything short of hetero-cis-normative unsavory and unsuitable for polite companionship.

We see it in harmful anti-queer legislation targeting the Inclusive Education Agenda and in parents claiming there is pornography in school libraries. Even recent Utah law excludes transgender students from sports teams.

We need to stop viewing homosexuality as inherently sexual and predatory, because this false view harms the community.

When people fight against the queer community, whether it’s for us to gain new rights or to protect existing ones, they are using religious rhetoric and an inappropriate superiority complex. The sanctity of marriage does not exist for homosexuals, but apparently it does for pastors who return to their wives after molesting children.

Homosexuals have always existed and played a role in society, but people who have too much free time think it’s wrong. In the 1970s there were major movements to keep gay and lesbian teachers out of the classroom, as our very existence puts children at risk. Fear concentrates around us recruiting them, like a small militia full of gay preteens.

Anti-viewpoints rely on the idea that sexual minorities harm children, that they are predator and that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot exist other than sexually. There are many claims about how LGBTQ+ people indoctrinate and sexualize children and use scare tactics to scare parents. Classic strategies of dehumanization.

One such strategy is to ban books. Book bans are commonplace, with many novels centering on queer and trans characters, as well as those that struggle with race and racism. Many titles removed from school districts and libraries in Utah are being criticized for their content, being challenged “for depictions of sex and/or the body” with many books being targeted featuring LGBTQ+ characters.

Alpine School District has removed 52 books from its library shelves, including 21 of the titles on the list containing strange characters or themes. Conservative parent group Utah Parents United pushed for the books to be banned, with the program director going so far as to file a police report with the Farmington Police Department and Davis County Sheriff’s Office to file a criminal complaint against the Davis School District.

Even as we struggle with the only history of our existence being considered sexual, it is important to recognize why this stereotype is so prevalent. Primarily, the modern queer community historically has roots in sex work. The act of sexual liberation led to turmoil in the gay rights movement, further complicated by the AIDS crisis. Queer history cannot properly exist without the context of sex work and liberation. The subject of sex, especially queer sex, is associated with a ridiculous amount of stigma.

But when homosexuality and the experience of being homosexual exists primarily in the sense of being something illicit, it sends a clear message of disgust. The rampant sexualization of the LGBTQ+ community is causing unease among gay people. When I tell someone I’m a lesbian, people completely miss asking me if I’ve ever kissed a girl and are directly asking about my body count. It’s absurd and nobody’s business.

While the queer community has ties to explicit sexuality, it’s not the only space people can inhabit. By confusing homosexuality with pornography, it sends a message that sexuality and gender identity are inherently sexual in nature. It harms the community and harms those who may never have the chance to delve into their identity out of fear. It’s easy to tell someone to stop sexualizing and demonizing gay people, but hard to get them to actually change their belief systems.

PEN America, a literary organization that defends freedom of expression, called actions to ban the books in Utah “disturbing”. Director of Free Speech and Education Programs Jonathan Friedman said, “Book kidnappings are not meant to be routine in school libraries. Students have the right to learn about the variety of human experiences and perspectives that these books offer.

Weber State University associate professor Richard Price also noted that school libraries do not contain porn. “When you look at what’s actually being challenged in school,” Price said, “some of it has sex in it and some of it is just about gay people.”

It terrifies people that their children might gain empathy and understanding for those who are not themselves. Banning books in schools completely ignores the fact that if someone is determined enough, they can find just about anything on the internet. But it’s not about that – it’s about maintaining the status quo of what’s appropriate and good enough to learn. It’s about keeping homosexuality taboo.

Open your eyes. It was never really about books.

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@kaylahlien

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