I’m in a bad space and I can’t pretend any longer that I ain’t. Trump, this illegitimate President – this moron, narcissist (fill in every vile adjective you can come up with; I have thousands for him), has brought this on me. And it’s not that I’m a stupendously political person. I normally don’t even express political opinions. But this orange creature devoid of anything but self-love has opened his own Pandora’s Box of grotesqueries that are blanketing our country with a plague of Dis-ease, worry and fear. I am not immune. I have reasons.
For those who have followed my career as a gay photographer and author, you also know that I was raised by radical Evangelical/fundamentalist parents. I was born into their church. It was everything I knew up until the age of seventeen when I could take it no longer, rebelled and ran away. I’d been brainwashed, abused and even tortured by my parents at the command of their pastors because “I was too effeminate”, or “didn’t sit properly like a man,” or had “homosexual tendencies”, that made other parents in the church leery to have me around their own children. I had been beaten regularly, and when that no longer worked, I was tied up and left in a closet until I either repented or recited Bible passages verbatim to them through a keyhole as the password back to “freedom”. I’d never been allowed to associate with any kids outside of the church. We had been brainwashed that they were “liberals”, and that made them creatures of Satan.
When I realized I was gay I thought my life was actually over. That life had condemned me because I’d been taught that homosexuality was an abomination and that gay people would burn in hell for eternity. The God I believed in didn’t hear my prayers to change me and so I hoped, quite simply, to die before I became any worse. I didn’t die. God obviously didn’t listen to homosexuals. I figured we were condemned to survive two hells. The one that came after living… and the one we endured while living. To tell you that my teenage years were black doesn’t convey the depth of that darkness. When you hear from the pulpit every week, and from your parents every day that everything in the world outside of the church is sinful and will eventually be cleansed by God’s holy fire, you realize there is no where to run. That leaves you in the abyss of yourself trying to deal with the horror of your life… and the imagined horror of the world outside it.
Near the end of my teens, for my sanity’s sake, I accepted who I was. I couldn’t change who I was. It was the only option I had left. I rebelled and was excommunicated from the church. This did not sit well with my parents – especially my father who grew more intense in his discipline of me. When I refused to cry by the beatings, I was knocked unconscious, tied to chairs or locked in shed in the back yard in the sweltering summer heat as lessons to try and bring me back to their way of thinking – the way I’d been raised… the way I’d been brainwashed. It didn’t work.
I know I have some form of PTSD from my childhood. There are huge swaths of memory that are missing. They’ve been compartmentalized or erased by that child, I guess, to keep me as sane as possible. I only have flashes of them in my nightmares. I struggle with the idea that my life was so horrid and untenable because my parents believed that “God” had made us his “chosen ones”, and we had to follow the strict teachings of the church and the proclamations of it’s pastors to assure our redemption before he brought it all to an horrific cataclysm.
I ran away. For years I never spoke to my parents. I blocked them from my mind. I tried to purge myself of the hate and fear and terror with which they painted my tender psyche. I made my own life in the world… “God” and religion-free. I became a liberated homosexual. I accepted myself and knew that I was as normal as any other living creature on the planet. But most of all.. I tried to put what had been taught to me by my parents and their church behind me because I knew it was vile, soulless and rotten to the core. It’s not an easy task. My formative years had been ruined. I had lost a childhood. There were no photo albums filled with happy pictures of family vacations. There were no memories of joyful childhood experiences. I had ran into the world without any normalcy to my life. It would be a struggle to try to begin and fill it with some.
And I did the best I could. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in spite of my origins. I’ve integrated into society as a proud gay person, an author and photographer and generally very decent person. But the anger was always there like tea steeping stronger in a pot; growing darker and blacker inside me. I was angry at what had been done to me; about the simple joys of childhood that had been stripped from me – about the beatings; the tortures, that all came with Bible quotes that, to this day, I cannot erase from my memory. I knew that my parents had been insane; that their church was a cesspool of insanity. I was thankful I’d escaped. So. I watered this anger down as best as I could through the years. I wanted to enjoy LIFE.
Like any writer I tried to purge myself of the bitterness with my work. Every single thing I’ve written has a taste for my disdain of religion. I consider it to be a perversity. And each thing I wrote seemed to lessen the weight of the burden of the blackness inside me. I thought I’d found a viable way to finally free myself from the tyranny of my anger.
That was when I began to notice what was shaping up in politics. From Jerry Falwell on, the Evangelicals have been slowly, carefully and meticulously slithering their way into politics. They wanted to reshape our country into “their world”, “their laws”, “their belief system”. I became concerned. More and more Evangelical politicians gradually began emerging in one of the parties of our government. And each one came in with their agenda. And I knew what that agenda was because I’d heard it every week from the pulpit when I was a child, and in the private conversations of each and every member of the congregation. “To destroy the unbelievers”. “To bring God’s kingdom to the world through the Apocalypse.” “To make liberal blood flow in the street as high as the horses bridles!”
We were taught that public education was Satan’s means of corrupting children. We’d been taught that Science was Satan’s tool to deceive. We were taught that the liberal mind was demon-possessed. We’d been told to prepare for a “War”. My family had a pantry stockpiled with food. Every family was taught to keep firearms hidden. They said when the war came that the liberals would try to use the art of “Satan’s tongue” or rational dialogue to dissuade us. We had been instructed to never listen to a liberal because it was like listening to a chorus of demons. And when the “Time” came, we would have to have the courage to face the demons and kill them without mercy. That was what “God” wanted.
THIS..is what is taught in the Evangelical churches. If you try to reason with them you have only put yourself in their gun sites. There is no reasoning with someone with this level of brainwashing.
AND they were infiltrating our government slowly and surely, one by one.
I thought for certain people would see, as I had, that they were insane and dangerous. But instead they made them into clown creatures to ridicule. But that didn’t stop them. More and more they began to take over House and Senate seats; Governor’s offices… all the way down to grassroots level. Like I said, they had an agenda. You’ll see it in everything they oppose: women’s rights, racial equality, freedom of the press, the arts and sciences; the various other religions… and homosexuality.
When Marriage Equality became an issue, it gave them a clear focus of determination. That, they said, was a sign of the “End of Times” and it was the starting gun for their “Crusade.” God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, in their interpretation, in retaliation for homosexuality. The rise of the homosexual in society, for them, was the signal that it was time for them to act on “God’s” behalf.
In a country that was Constitutionally founded on a separation of church and state, they made it clear that they would not accept this. In retaliation for Marriage Equality, they banded together to write opposing laws as “Religious Freedom”. They were making it abundantly clear that “Queers” were the final spoilers of society and they would not tolerate it.
I had high hopes. We pushed back and won on many. many levels. Intelligent reasoning and the sane laws of our country’s foundation worked hand-in-hand to protect what should have been our undeniable rights. Obama helped us make progressive strides forward. There was enough hope to make me believe we could stave the crazies off. Keep them harmlessly in their clown car where we could be occasionally amused by them.
Then Trump happened. The unimaginable. A man so unqualified for high office that he was a joke. So undignified, racist, misogynistic and homophobic that an intellectual society would thoroughly dismiss him. And then he was in… and anchored to him… the Evangelicals.
His cabinet is festooned with their belief system: the despising of women, other religions; the blatant racism and the overt hatred for homosexuality.
The blackness I’d ran away from as a child in my home… had taken over the country. The Evangelicals were in place to rewrite laws to make anything and everything outside of their belief system an offense. The unimaginable now reared its serpent’s head and it’s fangs came loaded with fear for anyone who recognized them for the snakes that they are.
I know these people well. They will not stop. They cannot be reasoned with. There will be no rational dialogue. They will have no epiphany to bring harmony to those who believe differently. They are the blackness. They are soulless. They are vile.
So I am in this bad space. But I’ve been here before. The advantage is that even though they are in government, we outnumber them. There is a force of resistance out there. it’s vocal and determined, like I was back then; like I am now. We must become MORE determined than them. We must oppose them on every single thing. For every dark deed they do we have to throw a spotlight on it… the educated, thinking world will NOT allow these monsters FREE reign…
I truly believe that every struggle makes us stronger. Mine did. That I feel this struggle coming on again makes me more determined. It’s time for you to feel it too. I hope you do. The World is counting on us.
Dan Skinner #resistanthomosexual