What's Hate Got to Do With It?
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What's Hate Got to Do With It?

Aug 21, 2023

June 6, 2023 by Edie Weinstein Leave a Comment

In one of the latest kerfuffles over shining a light on Gay pride, my favorite department store Target is in the crosshairs, as some shoppers are offended by displays of colorful items that celebrate LGBTQ+ identity. Some have threatened violence against employees, and one shopper committed an act of vandalism by tearing down a sign and stomping on it. The MAGA hat wearing protestor made his message loud and clear with his actions.

A spokesperson for Target had this to say about reasons for either removing or moving items to a less conspicuous place in the store where these incidents occurred and numerous others. "Since introducing this year's collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work," a Target spokesperson said. "Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior."

My question is why the decision makers at Target didn't do what they would have done with any other vandals or those who made terroristic threats, call the police and then have these people banned from entering the store. I know that the second would be a monumental task and it wouldn't stop others from doing the same or worse. We live in unpredictable and volatile times. To date 480 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed in numerous states according to the American Civil Liberties Union, with lawmakers enacting laws to put a halt to education on LGBTQ+ issues in schools, drag performances and transition-related healthcare, among other provisions. This serves to put the LGBTQ+ community in danger.

I had conflicted feelings about adding Target to my own list of businesses to boycott, including Chick-fil-a, Hobby Lobby and some local shops in my area owned by people who have publicly stated their support for the former president. What made the decision for me was a visit over the weekend to two local stores where the Pride display was in full flying flag colors. It was a beautiful sight to behold as I perused the shelves. Blessedly, neither have succumbed to bigotry and hatred and stood up for the LGBTQ+ community and their right to exist.

In my mind, hatred is really what it is about. Hatred of what people perceive to be different, ‘other,’ not like them, although I would venture a guess that those who engage in those behaviors, whether with their vote or their words or acts of violence, know and love someone that would identify as part of the demonized community. That's why I am looking for words other than homophobia and transphobia to describe aggressions, both macro and micro. It is not mere fear, but loathing that fuels their actions.

Why do we compartmentalize people such that it even matters who they love and how they love? At the core of their darkened minds, what is the fear that haters harbor? I can't wrap my own mind around it. Throughout the years, I have had people in my life who identify all throughout the gender and sexuality matrix, as I have come to call it, since it is not a spectrum from Gay to straight with increments in between. I have explored the matrix myself. I identify as cis-gender and heteroflexible. I have primarily been in relationships with those who are male identified and a few who are female identified. The way I describe the variations is that it is about the person and not the plumbing. As a therapist, I offer counseling to people all throughout the matrix. As an interfaith minister, I marry couples all throughout the matrix.

For the past several years (and I will do so again this year), I have offered FREE MOM HUGS at Pride Fests. Open arms, open minds and open hearts is how we counteract hatred.

Happy Pride, y’all! Let your rainbow flag fly high!

Photo: [Main] iStock / [insets] courtesy of author

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Filed Under: Ethics & Values, Featured Content Tagged With: ACLU, cis-gender, Free Mom Hugs, gay pride, homophobia, Julie Gold, LGBTQ, Target, transphobia