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When the Universe manifests itself in us as unexplainable and seemingly unwarranted sanctification, we are said to be living in a state of grace.

I’d argue that we always are sanctified. Being aware of it, and embracing it brings us to the state of grace.  

When the Universe manifests itself as unexplainable and unwarranted hate, we are said to live in the state of Florida. We have as our Gov. Ron DeSantis, and our two U.S. Senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, three of the most Far Right people in politics. We’re also stuck with both a State House and State Senate that are dominated by socially conservative Republicans. We’re the Hate State, the State of Hate, call it what you will, but it’s frustrating and embarrassing to acknowledge to others where we live.  

The latest manifestation of their hateful thinking is a law that prohibits teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity to youngsters. Anyone who assumes the cultural wars are over isn’t paying attention.  

The award-winning, short animated movie that was based on my book, “What’s ‘Gay’?” Asked Mae is precisely what children need to see, and exactly what Republicans want to stop from happening. They think children shouldn’t be exposed to talk about sexual orientation or gender identity. It might confuse them.  

My older sister, Kathy, who died recently, was an extraordinary first-grade teacher for many years. It was always fun to go out to dinner with her and have a young adult come to the table to thank her for what a great job she did. My sister was exceptionally gifted at spotting issues that would impact the youngster in the future. With two gay brothers, she was very aware of the fear and loneliness that can come from knowing at an early age that you are different from the others. Had she still been teaching when my book was published and the movie was made, she would have proudly and confidently brought them into her classroom.  

I don’t know what truly motivates Republicans in their efforts across the country to stop children from hearing the word “gay,” and from acknowledging they are transgender. Despite the protest from doctors, therapists, teachers, and parents, Right-Wing Christians are passing laws that prohibit transgender children from playing sports and using the appropriate locker room and restroom. If they’re successful in Texas in stopping all children from taking the early steps of transitioning, they will do irreparable harm. And for what reason? They know nothing about the experience of being transgender. Nor are they aware of what damage they are doing by stigmatizing being transgender or gay.  

Florida’s Right-Wing governor is expected to be the GOP nominee for president in 2024. He’s much smarter than Donald Trump, and far more dangerous. If he’s elected, he and his Republican majority in Congress will work to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people miserable. But the battle is not over, and we older LGBT people know how to organize and fight, just as gay people have been doing in Ukraine. In the past 50 years, we’ve faced down some of the most hateful behavior, and devastating negligence possible.  

Ray and I don’t want to live in the State of Hate, but this is now our home and we will do whatever we can to replace Right-Wing politicians with progressive public servants. If we’re part of an army of resistance, there’s no telling what we’ll achieve, including allowing LGBT youngsters to feel safe and valued in school. They would thus be living in a state of grace.

Brian McNaught has been a leading educator on LGBTQ issues globally since 1974. He has made his many books and DVDs available for free at The New York Times named him “The Godfather of gay diversity training.” Brian has a weekly YouTube/FaceBook podcast called, “Are You Happy Without the Movie?” and McNaught's latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray: Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives” is available now on Amazon for $14.99.


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