'Respectfully Disagreeing' Doesn't Work When It Comes to Human Rights | Opinion

Politics have always been a topic that most people shy away from, especially when they know that others in the room may have contrasting viewpoints. The idea of arguing over a policy issue is certainly not worth ruining a relationship. Yet today, we live in a society where hateful politics have been amplified and people's voices have become louder—for better and for worse.

Over the past few years, we have seen a major shift in the political landscape. "Opposing views'' now means that some believe that certain groups of people do not deserve the same respect and rights as others. Although we have seen progress for certain marginalized communities, like the recent passing of the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA), we have also witnessed social media amplify politicians whose platforms are fueled by hate, bigotry, and oppression. Friendly political disagreements about taxes have transformed into disagreements over whether or not people in the LGBTQ community should be allowed to marry who they love. Americans are forced to choose between supporting equality, or standing against human rights for the purpose of political gain. There is no longer a middle ground that promotes civility.

We, the queer community, want effective policy and protective change as "thoughts and prayers" no longer suffice. It was moments after the Club Q shooting that every politician jumped to Twitter to post their "prayers," and then the following week voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. Actions speak louder than any tweet or press conference, and the louder we can stand together and resist, the stronger we are able to push back and demand equal rights for all.

According to NBC News, over 240 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in the last 18 months, where LGBTQ members are caught in the crossfire between religion and politics. From schools introducing anti-LGBTQ policies because they are "woke" and will "brainwash" our children, to the blatant attack on transgenders' access to health care, there is not one aspect of the queer community that is not demonized (calling us "groomers"), and targeted with acts of violence. From Pulse, to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' remarks on Obergefell v. Hodges, to book bans (including one in my hometown), to the so called Don't Say Gay bill being proposed nationally, it is clear that some care about one thing: hate.

The LGBTQ community has faced increasing amounts of opposition and violence in the past few years—it feels like we are being pushed backwards. Politicians spend their entire term attacking people in our community for simply existing, yet sit idly following over 39 mass shootings in the past three weeks, according to CNN. If these leaders truly cared about protecting students, they would stand together and create safe environments for those who are already invalidated in many homophobic communities, help low-income students receive access to mental and physical health solutions, and ban assault weapons—which is just a start. Students going to school, people going grocery shopping, and queer people going out for a night of enjoyment should not be facing their last moments.

A same-sex marriage supporter waves a flag
A same-sex marriage supporter waves a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2013, in Washington, D.C. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

What we continue to see is a fight against progress for humanity, not an opposition of views. Gen Z has especially abandoned the idea of "respectfully disagreeing," as our generation is sick and tired of the lack of accountability. The fact that there is an entire political party that thrives on the notion that they reject any differences whatsoever should bother every American, but it doesn't. We then ask ourselves, what will? I fear that the only monumental change will come from resistance.

Gone are the days where we stand in the shadows. Gen Z has made it clear that those who go against human rights will be challenged with nationwide movements of young organizers (like the Voters of Tomorrow and Gen-Z for Change) to build community and shut down bigoted rhetoric.

Solving things quietly went out the door when people decided to use their positions of privilege to go after human beings for simply existing. If you are an outspoken member of the LGBTQ community, stay loud, push back, and refuse to be treated less than.

Resist, for every single queer person who is unable to stand in the fight with us, I promise you, they are watching.

Brian Femminella is a Gen Z LGBTQ activist and tech entrepreneur. He is an outspoken voice in the queer and trans community, including his work in the military as an Army officer.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.