We’re seeing an incessant rise in fear and loathing against LGBTQ folks. States (our own included) proposing book bans and threatening teachers, Tennessee’s ban on drag queen shows in public places, misinformation and restrictions on information and support for transitioning kids and their families, ridiculous “Don’t Say Gay” rules.

This ugliness has cruel consequences for our friends and families. And for ourselves — this is not the kind and loving world we want to live in. Someone you love is gay or bi or trans. If you don’t know that, it’s because they’re afraid to come out to you.

Nothing is wrong with transgender or gay kids except frightened and uninformed people attempting to push them back into the saddest of closets.

Nothing is wrong with LGBTQ folks except the unkind, disrespectful, and even violent behavior of people who are afraid of natural human diversity.

Nothing is wrong with drag queens except the hateful belief that they can be legislated out of existence.

Make no mistake — our fears are being manipulated to distract us from issues of major concern for everyone, like health care, education, racism, the environment, mass shootings, infrastructure, tax evasion and wealth inequality.

Don’t be afraid to love thy neighbor, and don’t be distracted.

Dorothy Raymond, Norway

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