Born This Way (Harness the Love)
After the Club Q shooting, Georgia’s Senate election took a nasty turn toward bigotry. But not everyone has turned to the dark side.
Click arrow below for audio
Even if you don’t live in Georgia…
you probably know the US Senate race here has gone into overtime. But did you know transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is also on the ballot?
This week, for instance, just two days after a hater opened fire at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs, Team Herschel fired off a TV commercial damning his opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock for his vote allowing transgender girls to participate in sports.
During this campaign, we’ve already been told that Rev. Warnock wants to turn little girls into boys by injecting them with hormones and cutting off their breasts. Tagline: “I got two words for you, Warnock: Hell no!”
But this week, Team Herschel hit a new low
In his latest commercial, the ex-football player and serial baby-daddy is sitting alongside Riley Gaines, who thought it would be cool if she kept on her University of Kentucky T-shirt as long as her blonde hair covered up most of the letters.
The message in this commercial is that poor Riley hit the pool for practice every morning at 4:00 AM for more than a decade because she wanted to be the best. And even though she’s a 12-time All-American swimmer, the NCAA championship trophy was snatched from her by a “biological male.”
“That’s unfair and wrong,” Herschel says.
“A man won the swimming title that belonged to a woman,” the Kentuckian says.
Poor Riley Gaines
What she doesn’t say in the commercial is that she wasn’t the best. She tied for fifth place with Lia Thomas, the University of Pennsylvania swimmer who was ranked 554th as a male but 5th as a female.
Since Thomas and Gaines tied for fifth place, both received a trophy. Gaines was upset because the NCAA allowed Lia Thomas to hold the 5th-place trophy during the photographs, while she was forced to hold the 6th-place trophy until her 5th-place trophy could be mailed to her.
Life is so unfair. And it’s all because of that biological male.
This is not a new argument among LGBTQ+ haters
What makes this particular commercial stand out among other political trash is the timing.
Why run an anti-LGBTQ+ ad two days after a hate-crime took the lives of five people in Colorado? The answer is simple: Because you’re trying to reach other anti-gay haters. You want to motivate them to rush to the polls and vote for more hate.
If you think I’m wrong about this, consider former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, who seems to be looking for a second act now that she’s no longer side-glancing Rudy Giuliani’s courtroom fart sounds. Her Thanksgiving Eve comments about those who died during the Colorado Springs Club Q shooting are the kind that give Christians a bad name. She thinks they’re all burning in hell.
Two days after the Colorado shooting, Tucker Carlson of Fox News interviewed Jaimee Michell, spokesperson for Gays against Grooming—even though Michell herself is not gay. Her organization has been banned from PayPal, Venmo, Google, and sometimes Twitter. Because it promotes a conspiracy theory known as LGBTQ Grooming.
The term has caused a moral panic among conservatives and members of the far-right, who believe LGBTQ-positive education and campaigns for LGBTQ rights is a form of child-grooming.
The theory is right up there—or should I say ‘down there’—with election denialism when it comes to proof. It’s widely considered to be a baseless, homophobic, transphobic boogey-man hiding in the shadows or under the bed of rural America.
Instead of turning on the light, Carlson allowed Michell to play Jeremiah. There will be more shootings like this, she said.
There is definitely a political market for this
Herschel and his handlers know who they’re trying to reach and how those folks already feel about the “gay” thing.
They believe Warnock’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights is an Achilles heel.
Warnock co-sponsored the Equality Act, which would combat anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination across the country.
He also co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which would guarantee that same-sex and interracial couples will continue to enjoy federal recognition of their marriages even if they travel to other states.
So Team Herschel has dragged poor Riley Gaines down from Kentucky to tell her sad story to the people of Georgia. About how she trained every day for ten years.
Because she wanted to be the best. And was forced to compete against a biological man. Not against a trans woman. But a biological man who tied with her for 5th place.
Guess what, Riley? You were going to be 5th whether Lia Thomas was in the NCAA competition or not.
Thomas did not stop you from being the best. I don’t care how many times you hit the practice pool at 4 AM. For you, 5th place was your personal best. No shame in that, Riley.
But you should be ashamed of yourself for running around the country acting like Lia Thomas kept you from winning. When you know that’s a lie.
People who promote falsehoods like this are fear-mongering at best. And at worst, they are injecting genocidal hate speech into the public square.
Fortunately, they don’t get the last word
While Herschel Walker, Jenna Ellis, and Tucker Carlson were spreading anti-gay propaganda in the aftermath of the Colorado Springs shooting, the Metropolitan Opera entered this kaleidoscopic moment with a more substantial offering.
In that same two-day period following the Club Q tragedy, the Met produced its world premiere of The Hours, an adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-prize-winning novel.
Maybe you saw the movie a few years ago with Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman, who won an Oscar for her sensitive portrayal of Virginia Woolf.
The Hours is the story of three women separated by several decades over a hundred-year period, each of them connected by Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. One while writing it, one while reading it, and another while living it.
Each of them is also in the process of dealing with sexual identity in one form or another. It’s an honest and nuanced examination of LGBTQ+ themes in a way that can only properly be handled by Art.
When the opera is released in cinemas next month, I’m looking forward to seeing this adaptation. Sexual identity is too important to be decided by candidates for political office.
On the Monday following the Colorado Springs shooting, Amy Schneider made history as the first transgender woman to win the program’s Tournament of Champions. She won 40 games during regular season play for a total of $1.3 million, putting her in the top tier of Jeopardy! winners in the show’s 39-year history.
Host Ken Jennings treated her with dignity and respect during her entire time on the program. He even asked her about the tattoo she wears on her left arm.
It’s an image of Princess Ozma, the rightful heir to the throne in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz sequels. Kidnapped as a baby, she was turned into a boy by a sorceress until the spell was broken, revealing the princess she always was. Amy Schneider has said the story has deep personal meaning for her.
Other LGBTQ+ contestants have appeared on Jeopardy! and I’ve never seen anyone connected with that program regarded with anything less than complete respect.
Trans people are part of the modern world
They could not have existed during the time of Shakespeare, when men routinely dressed as women to bring Ophelia, Portia, and Lady MacBeth to the stage. Who knows how many of those Elizabethan actors found themselves questioning their sexuality while wearing a dress onstage? But couldn’t do anything about it because the medical technology did not exist.
Between November 19 and November 22, we saw several examples of how the people of our time are dealing with this modern phenomenon. One responded with gunfire. Another weaponized religion. One other turned to conspiracy theories. While a candidate for United States Senate used a lie to advertise his bigotry.
All of that happened. But the Met staged an opera. And a trans woman proved that living well is the best revenge by winning the Tournament of Champions on Jeopardy!
Here’s the number one thing you can do to help
At some point during the long Thanksgiving weekend, you will probably find yourself connecting with family members you haven’t seen for a long time. There’s going to be a lot of hugging and kissing—and loving going on this weekend.
It’s going to happen in driveways, bus stations, train stations, and at airports. Like in the opening scene of Love, Actually, that movie you will probably watch again this year even though you’ve already seen it a zillion times before.
That opening scene may be my favorite part of the movie. That’s where Hugh Grant’s VoiceOver says:
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.
General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.
Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love, actually, is all around.
I suppose that is my Thanksgiving message to you this year. Harness all that love when it comes your way this weekend. Don’t let it slip away.
Let it fill you up with the light only love can give. Use it to do the one thing it does best. Let it shine.
Let it shine in the corner, behind the door where the bogey-man is hiding. Feel free to sleep with that light on.
Because we need all that love right now. The haters are out there, stirring things up, as always. But you don’t really think they’re more powerful than all that love that’s coming your way this weekend, do you?
Happy Thanksgiving! And thanks for supporting the Jazprose Diaries.
The Jazprose Diaries is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber for $5/month or $30/year. Thank you!
Another great piece and perspective. The closing section citing the movie Love Actually particularly hits home. You effectively tie it to the political race and surrounding issues, no small feat. There have been a few occasions where my oldest daughter and I make time to watch that flick together during the holidays. I am in my 70s, she has turned 50. Christmas is still Christmas, we are still father and daughter, and the arts still have the power to help us tone down the noise and focus on what is important in life. Thanks for reminding me of that.
I will feel a whole lot more loving if Rev. Warnock sends Hershell to the showers on Dec. 6. Thanks for a very powerful piece!