Sally Kohn, an out lesbian who works as a commentator for outlets like CNN and The Daily Beast, recently suggested that Disney should create a fairy tale in which a princess finds love with another princess. An understandable suggestion, considering Sally is someone who knows firsthand that some human beings are attracted to members of their own gender. She is also someone who herself has a young child. If you accept that same-sex relationships are a part of our world and believe that children should grow up understanding this truth, as I and Sally Kohn do, then it's not provocative to suggest that our culture could be even more inclusive—it's just an apt assessment of reality.
But of course to those who fight LGBT rights for a living, it's somehow "controversial" for a lesbian to seek entertainment choices that accurately reflect her life. Which brings us to Erik Rush, a conservative commentator who writes for WND (formerly WorldNetDaily), hosts a streaming radio show, and appears as a pundit on Fox News and other conservative outlets. When Rush caught wind of Kohn's comments, he decided that she is an "obnoxious, maladjusted lesbian" and accused her of trying to indoctrinate kids. In Mr. Rush's world, it is, in fact, an act of aggression for an LGBT person to essentially say nothing more than "LGBT people exist." When that LGBT person takes a benign stand for basic inclusion, that LGBT person is to be denigrated.
That part probably doesn't shock anyone, as most people are at least passingly familiar with the way social conservatives tend to regard LGBT visibility. But as it turns out, Mr. Rush didn't stop at just knocking Sally Kohn or pushing back against her views. Instead, the conservative pundit suggested that pundits like Kohn are actually inviting violence against the LGBT community, saying "people who have been pushed to the limit" are "going to go homo-hunting." And when that happens, Mr. Rush says it "won't bother me because [Sally Kohn] sort of served to bring it about."
The clip, courtesy of RightWingWatch:
This is the kind of thing that the average American doesn't realize is still going on every single day in the conservative media space. Even our allies don't get it. Most Americans feel like they have a pretty good idea of how heated the anti-LGBT voices can get, but they really have no clue.
Plus, when people do hear clips like this, it's almost as if they don't really believe it's happening in the real world. People hear this stuff and they kind of file it to this "other" file in their brains, quarantining it to some absurd alternate reality where it's easier to process. When anti-LGBT activists say they want to "change" us, a lot of people don't believe that they really want to change us. When they suggest criminal sanctions should be placed on our lives and loves, many folks don't really think they would ever seek such penalties. And in the case of this clip, a heck of a lot of listeners will likely hear it and think it's just some random guy blowing off steam free from any real repercussion.
This has happened elsewhere. Pastor Charle Worley's sermon about putting all the "queers and lesbians" behind an electric fence went viral two summers ago. Last summer, Pastor Matt Brown stated that he wanted to physially attack not LGBT people, but clergy who were allies. Both of these came within sermons, where the pastor is supposed to be preaching the gospel, but instead chose to lead their congregation into violence against LGBT people and their allies. And we have seen that violence bear fruit, as attacks on LGBT people continue, even in "safe" places like New York City.
When these anti-LGBT commentators talk, I personally choose to believe that they mean it. In this case, I can't help but believe Mr. Rush is working to inciting violence. Yes, he couches it behind statements implying that he himself doesn't want violence against people "who don't deserve to get hurt," and he suggests that only God can decide whether or not such civil unrest takes rise. But let's be clear: he is putting the idea of "homo-hunting" into his listeners' ears and heads for a reason. He is presenting violence as a perfectly likely and even understandable reaction to a lesbian commentator's belief that her life experience could be suitable fodder for animated fiction, and he is pre-excusing any fallout that might come from it.
This is not mere politicking. It's also much more common, unfortunately, than the average consumer would like to believe.