I want you to see this and never forget it. The year is 2017. Hundreds of gay men have been abducted and tortured in concentration camps in Chechnya. Some reports say over thirty have been murdered — by the police or by their own families.
The government is calling it a cleansing. An unidentified gay man told France 24 News: “They tell the parents to kill their child. They say ‘Either you do it, or we will.'”
Chechnya is a republic of Russia in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin is unlikely to do much to address these horrors. Vladimir Putin is waging his own war against queers by outlawing all visible representations of homosexuality in Russia.
Putin, who has orchestrated perhaps the greatest feat of international espionage in recent history by tipping the American election this year, has denied the existence of these camps, even though various news sources across Europe have confirmed them after Novaya Gazeta reported the horrors last month.
Things are bleak in the United States.
Today, May 4, 2017, our president will likely sign a sweeping “religious freedom bill,” which will open the floodgates of religious-based anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination across the country.
Middle America will have their field day on us. These poor people, oppressed and swindled by the systems they believe in. Tell them to hate, they hate. You can steer them like ox.
On the morning of June 26, 2015, the day Obergefell v. Hodges ruled in our favor, the day we won national marriage equality, I thought we had a road of victory paved ahead of us.
I was living with a man I loved. We had no air conditioning and the temperature had risen to the 90s. We kept the windows open all night. Outside, the cicadas screamed into the warm, wet air. We fucked on our antique bed feeling safe and strong.
A year later, Pulse happened.
I’m stepping through their bodies on a dirty dance floor. 49 people are dead. Gunned down in a gay club in Orlando. Most are Latinx. A few months later, we elected Donald Trump, a president bent on punishing undocumented Latinx people in this country.
You know that name. It will outlive mine and yours. A silly name, a clown-sounding name: Donald Trump. Donald Trump.
It’s too close to Donald Duck. These great men always want to be taken seriously, but their names defeat them. Donald Trump, the waddling puppet in the kid’s TV show. Vladimir Putin. Poot-in. Pooting. Vlad shirtless on his pony. Vlad, sensitive to depictions of himself in drag (banned in Russia).
Vlad, have you ever run a tube of lipstick across your soft, supple lips? I have. I got fucked like that on all fours once, wearing a lacy pair of women’s panties, my lips red as blood.
I wonder if these men look at themselves in the mirror at night before bed and feel strong. I do. I spend two hours in the gym every night. I’m poor, so I drive myself home, without a private entourage, through traffic, singing jazz oldies to myself. I sound good.
I wonder what our bodies would look like together, naked in my bedroom. Donald Trump with his pillowy midsection and wispy hair standing squat and proud on my carpet. Vladimir Putin with his muscular physique and icy eyes staring at me.
I’d fuck Putin. I have these XXL dildos I like to play with. I’d encourage one of these bad boys up his hole and watch his eyes reel back in pleasure. You must always make the powerful weak, the rich humble.
The funny thing is, I threaten Putin. I threaten the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov. He’s a pack of muscle with green eyes. He looks like many men I know, dismissible and average. He is killing my brothers. I want nothing more than to rub a strip of barbed wire vigorously across his throat.
My existence plagues these men. Putin, Kadyrov, Trump. These men constitute the greatest threat to queer people in the world right now. Their influence trickles down to other men and women in power, people across oceans, encouraged by their campaigns. Marine Le Pen in France. Even U.S. Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming and his “poor choice of words.”
Their actions do not stop at one victory, one campaign. They echo into your lifetimes. They write history. We queers know this. We watch it happen again and again, decade after decade. Reagan denying our deaths. Bush denying our rights.
Over and over again, we fight them.
I hope things have changed by the time you read this. I hope the world has turned and that the concept of a massacre like the one happening now in Chechnya seems impossible. But never be fooled by victory blindness, as we were. The backlash will come. They will turn violent. Be violent back.
There will always be leaders like Kadyrov, just as there will always be toothless nobodies in Alabama beating their queer children. These people will always be lurking in a church somewhere. They will wander the halls of political office, gathering support, pushing legislation quietly through the cracks. Do not ever forget that they are there.
Even when we feel powerless, overwhelmed, and broken, we must never let them win.
We live our lives openly because our actions, like the powerful above us, have echoes too. For every antigay lawmaker, there are thousands of queer people spurred into action. We can never give up the fight.
This is why we come out. This is why we live authentically. Every gesture we do, every small form of protest, starts a chain of events. It teaches others to come out, to fight back.
We free people. That’s what we do, children. Existence is resistance.