There’s a tendency in American culture to leave the imagination to kids — they’ll grow out of it and grow up to be good businessmen or politicians. […]
But much of it is derivative; you can a mash lot of orcs and unicorns and intergalactic wars together without actually imagining anything. One of the troubles with our culture is we do not respect and train the imagination. It needs exercise. It needs practice. You can’t tell a story unless you’ve listened to a lot of stories and then learned how to do it.
–Ursula K. Le Guin, interviewed by David Streitfeld
If true. If true. If true. In one way, certainly, it’s a fitting refrain for the America of 2017, with all its concessions to the conditional tense: alternative facts, siloed reality, a political moment that has summoned and witnessed a resurgence of the paranoid style. And yet it’s also an abdication—“moral cowardice,” the journalist Jamelle Bouie put it—and in that sense is part of a much longer story. If true is a reply, but it has in recent cases become more effectively a verb—a phrase of action, done to women, to remind them that they are doubted. If true used as a weapon. If true used as a mechanism to enforce the status quo. For years. For centuries. The woman says, This happened. The world says, If true.
–Megan Garber, Al Franken, That Photo, and Trusting the Women
I’ve read a few comments on Facebook about my mom’s interview. One was really insulting because it said that I’m too young to know what I want and that my mom is manipulating me.
But if I had said I am trans, I’m sure that person would believe me and not worry that my mom influenced me. So, can’t I also know that I’m not trans?
How can any thirteen-year-old or their mom know that they’re “really trans” either? That’s why you shouldn’t make any permanent changes to your body at such a young age. I don’t know anyone my age who hasn’t felt uncomfortable about their bodies at some point. Everyone I know wishes there was something different about their bodies.
If it is on your mind 24/7 and you feed that idea, you give that idea power – and you start to feel like you need to do something to your body to feel better.
The idea of gender is harmful. It encourages dysphoria. It locks people into stereotypes.
Some people say that you shouldn’t help kids feel comfortable about their bodies or even feel okay with being a little uncomfortable. They say that’s “conversion therapy” to talk someone out of wanting to hurt themselves. It isn’t conversion therapy to learn to love yourself or at least, feel like you can live in your own body without hurting it on purpose.
–Noor Jontry, It’s not conversion therapy to learn to love your body: A teen desister tells her story
Being assaulted by a man who later acknowledged being gay confused me so much about my own sexuality because I connected my sexuality to being abused. It took years to rework that my sexuality was not borne out of pain. I was not gay because I was abused.
Even though my abuser didn’t “come out” until many years after he assaulted me, Spacey’s response made me relive my entire interactions with my abuser and my own thinking on sexuality and abuse. I was a black boy who was already told that being gay was a problem; imagine adding on top of that the idea that my sexuality was connected to the abuse.
To be clear, Spacey knew exactly what he was doing by “coming out” in response to sexual assault allegations. I’ve never been a fan of the “right time” to come out, but we all know this happened as a way to distract from the real story while simultaneously offering a fake apology for maybe allegedly assaulting a teenager. I’m not allowing that.
I’m also not allowing for folks who don’t seem to understand why people are upset at the convenience of Spacey’s timing. His statement conflates molestation, sexuality and drunkenness in a way that will ultimately harm queer people who are merely attempting to live a free life.
–Preston Mitchum, Kevin Spacey and the Damage Done
So let us now imagine all the forces arrayed against 19-year-old Tim Piazza as he gets dressed in his jacket and tie, preparing to go to his new chapter house and accept the bid the brothers have offered him.
He is up against a university that has allowed hazing to go on for decades; a fraternity chapter that has hazed pledge classes at least twice in the previous 12 months; a set of rules that so harshly punishes hazing that the brothers will think it better to take a chance with his life than to face the consequences of having made him get drunk; and a “checking system” provided by a security firm that is, in many regards, a sham. He thinks he is going to join a club that his college endorses, and that is true. But it is also true that he is setting off to get jumped by a gang, and he won’t survive.
So here is Tim, reaching for his good jacket—in a closet that his mother will soon visit to select the clothes he will wear in his coffin—a little bit excited and a little bit nervous.
“They’re going to get me fucked up,” he texts his girlfriend, and then he pulls closed the door of his college apartment for the last time.
–Caitlin Flanagan, Death at a Penn State Fraternity
After the horrible mass shooting in Las Vegas last night, I can only echo what I wrote in response to the Pulse shooting last year. I pray for the victims and their loved ones; I pray for the soul of the killer; I pray for sanity and compassion in the national discourse inevitably to follow.