An Open Letter To Franklin Graham

While combing through the news this week, I came across a story about how Franklin Graham, in the midst of a vile attack on the LGBTQ+ community and our fight for civil rights, has called Transgender people “predators and sexually perverted.” When are these evangelical preachers going to realize that their actions against people they fear are completely contrary to the teachings of the man named Jesus they claim to follow?

Mr. Graham:

So I’m a predator and a pervert, am I? I identify as Genderqueer, which puts me under the Trans umbrella, and at 34 years of age, I have never preyed on anybody for any purpose; nor have I ever had the desire to do so. Your hateful diatribe against me and those like me reveals a willful ignorance (you do, after all, have access to education on these issues), a fragile ego that feeds off of demeaning and degrading others, and an un-Christlike heart. You should be ashamed of yourself.

As a child, I was in awe of your father. Billy Graham and his message was ever-present in the charismatic and evangelical movements of the time. He was a powerful speaker, and I was convinced that he was ordained by God to spread the gospel. I later came to see him as a charlatan, a man who is not only dishonest, but deliberately deceptive, a man who played on the hopes and fears of people while tugging at their purse strings. You, sir, are just like him. The difference, though, and this is what makes you worse, is that you are actively campaigning to deny basic human rights; and using vile degrading language in the process.

I suppose, Mr. Graham, that you are actually quite proud of yourself. You did, after all, win your last battle to keep discriminatory policy on the books (referenced in the link above), and you are no doubt thrilled that a dozen states still have unconstitutional sodomy bans in place (as of 2014, and to my knowledge these have not changed). But while you insist upon making it difficult for us to be recognized as human beings, and as you carry on this disgusting crusade, listen carefully when I say that you are going to lose. You see, what was once a secret, what used to be dangerous to say, is no longer taboo. Of course in some conservative places, it is still dangerous to say that you are gay, Trans, or even an ally, but in most places it’s now safe to come out. The genie, as they say, is out of the bottle, and it can’t be put back in. We are out, and in the face of oppression we stand proud. That pride is why you will lose. We aren’t going anywhere, and we sure as hell are not backing down from a petty, vindictive, arrogant person like you.

I want to suggest that you sincerely try to learn about who and what we are, about the challenges we face, and about the legitimacy of Trans identity. I want to tell you that at your age it’s not too late. I want to encourage you to find it in your heart to stop fighting against humanity … but I’m almost ashamed to say that I don’t actually care if you do any of that. I am very proud of how I handle my advocacy. I am proud of my insistence on civility, my discretion with labels and ‘name-calling,’ my honesty … but I’m sick and tired of people like you. Since you’re so honest about wanting us to be treated like second-class citizens, and about wanting to deny us basic human rights, here’s a bit of honesty from me to you. I want to see you fail. I want to see your ministry investigated, to have your tax-exempt status revoked, and I want to see you fall out of favour with those who you and your father have been cheating and stealing from all these years. I want to see every piece of legislation you fight against passed, and everything you fight for struck down. And if everything I want happens, it still won’t be enough. Why? Because I could never wish enough ill will on you to match the pain and devastation you want to see levelled against us. I don’t want you put in prison for your beliefs. I don’t want to see you physically assaulted. I don’t want to see you homeless. I don’t want to see you subjected to unconstitutional restrictions on your rights and freedoms. I could never match your hatred for me, because I don’t have it in me to feel that way toward another human being.

Mr. Graham, you may think I’m a predatory pervert, but I encourage you to look in a mirror. I don’t prey on people, nor do I use them … but that’s exactly how your father got rich. I don’t publicly talk about my sexual preferences … but you seem obsessed with the preferences you imagine I have. I fight for people who are taking their own lives … while your fight is the reason they take their own lives. Stop calling us predators and perverts, Mr. Graham. You’re obviously projecting all over yourself.

 

A Minority With A Majority Effect

Over the past few days, a politician in California has proposed a bill to have LGBTQ people executed, a Tea Party radio host has called for the hanging of members of the Black caucus who protested Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3rd speech in front of the US congress, and evangelist Franklin Graham is blaming Obama for the “coming storm of Christian persecution.” (links to all three articles below) As I sit here with my mouth agape over this madness, I remember the words “it’s not all of them, just a vocal minority.” Isn’t this what we’re always told? It’s just a minority, right? Surely not many Christians think like this. These people are too small in numbers to really pose a threat … right?

The world I grew up in was a hotbed for the teachings that underlie the ideas of these heinous people. I was raised evangelical. I was brought up to “fight the good fight.” I was a warrior for Christ. In the world I grew up in, the thinking behind all of this wasn’t held by the minority, it was all around me. I never witnessed quite the level of vitriol seen in the above examples, but the ideas were certainly there. I was born in 1981, and the Jesus movement that had really gained steam in the previous decade was alive and well. The Anglican organization known as The Church Army was training soldiers for God, and there I was, growing up in the midst of it. I sang the songs, paraded through the streets in the “March for Jesus,” and loudly stated proclamations of my faith at every opportunity. The teachings I was raised with had an extreme effect on me, and by the time I was a teenager, I had become more hateful than most of the people in that world. Now, I don’t lay blame on my parents for this, they raised me the best way they knew how. My reactions to what I was taught were my own, and those reactions created a monster. I was a very angry person, and I agreed with everything in the above paragraph. I did think that homosexuals should be executed. I did think that anybody who went against Israel was a racist and should be punished. I did think that we Christians were being persecuted in North America. You see, I understand hate-mongers who feel this way because I was one of them. Most importantly, I know what kind of influential power they have. Minority or not, when you have people like Franklin Graham in your ranks, you have the power to influence the masses.

Here’s the thing. Religion has been oppressing people since time immemorial. Now, as we move forward and grow in our experience and knowledge, society tends to grow and change. Religion is set up to resist this change, and as a result, we have lawmakers trying to kill homosexuals, radio hosts trying to hang black people, and equality being called out as persecution; at a time when we should know better. Despite the progress in western society, we are at risk of a backslide if the ideals of these people continue to be given credence. People like Franklin Graham are respected by hundreds of thousands of believers worldwide, his views are not minority views. The California politician needs a certain number of signatures before his petition to impose capital punishment for homosexuality can be tabled, and although he will most certainly fail at making it law, I bet he gets the signatures to take it to a vote. The Tea Party radio host spewed deep-seeded racism and a pro-terrorism agenda with her comments, but she is a public figure with a huge following. It may very well be a minority of Christians spewing this hatred, but it has a majority effect.

I have said in the past that as we gain ground in this push for equality, people will start to fight back in desperation. This is happening, but there is an aspect to it that I did not expect. You see, I figured those fighting back would dwindle in numbers, since treating people badly for perceived differences is something we all claim to reject. Not so apparently. They are not dwindling, and as a matter of fact, the involvement of prominent leaders and popular politicians is giving the impression that their numbers are growing. I sincerely hope that this growth is a mirage, but it doesn’t look good. Even same-sex marriage, as more states continue to legalize it, is coming under increasingly vicious attack. If we allow this to continue, equality may be at risk of being steamrolled. I will stress again the importance of being outspoken. Make your voice heard. As a former member of the religious right, I know how this works. They won’t give up on their convictions, but we can win. We’ve been winning, we just have to renew our fervour. Write, speak, take to the streets. Whatever we did before, it worked. Let’s not stop now. We can do this. Remember to Be Outspoken!  

California Lawmaker

Tea Party Host

Franklin Graham