(Image courtesy of Alexander Grey on Pexels)
We live in new times. Times where we’ve aspired to make the world a better and accepting place for all walks of life, even the ones who are often deemed as “different” from societal expectation.
However, a few steps behind, seem to be the LGBTQ+ community. No matter how hard the push for acceptance is, it’ll always move two steps forward, but three steps back.
A few years ago, people would call the LGBTQ+ community slurs, throw the Bible in their face and mostly be done with it, but when gay marriage was legalized in June of 2015 in the U.S., people had to find new ways to discriminate.
As of the start of 2020, there began a rise of a term used to describe the LGBTQ+ community by right-wing activists.
But what exactly does this term mean?
According to Google Dictionary, groomer means to, “form a relationship with (a child or young person) with the intention of sexually assaulting them or inducing them to commit an illegal act such as selling drugs or joining a terrorist organization.”
Online, the term is mostly used to describe people who prey on young kids. This is the term now used to describe LGBTQ+ people by right-wing activists.
The main argument used with this term is that LGBTQ+ people are “child groomers,” and use their status as a marginalized group to prey on them, and spread gay and transgender propaganda.
But how exactly did this term grow in prominence? Especially when referring to LGBTQ+ people?
Calling LGBTQ+ people groomers has been growing since the early 2020s. It supposedly originated from Christopher Rufo- who is known for his conservative values. Specifically a tweet about “winning the language war” in August 2021.
From there, various laws prohibiting LGBTQ+ education started getting passed from primarily conservative states. This biggest one came from Florida- often referred to as the “don’t say gay” bill.
The “don’t say gay” act was to prohibit discussions about sexuality and gender in kindergarten to the third grade.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time the term “grooming” was used to describe a moral panic. It started with Pizzagate, which was 4chan, an anonymous imageboard website, just messing with the general masses.
According to Vox, who report on the issue back in 2016, said:
“The totally false conspiracy theory claims that Hillary Clinton and her former campaign chair, John Podesta, ran a child sex ring at the basement of a pizzeria in DC, Comet Ping Pong (which doesn’t even have a basement). Over the past few weeks, Donald Trump supporters and white supremacists on social media have pushed the conspiracy theory — leading to headlines like “Pizzagate: How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite” on fake news websites.”
From Pizzagate onward, there’s been an uptake in people claiming others are “groomers” over baseless things, or just for kicks online. Sadly, it’s been working.
There have been countless stories (and sometimes whole websites) dedicated to pushing this narrative on to people, and oftentimes making it a bigger deal than it actually is, as a way to foster hysteria.
An example of a news site as this is the Massachusetts based “Mass Resistance,” most of its catalog is hardly “news” but rather their flawed takes on republican states banning LGBTQ+ books. Yes, something as minimal as a book gets the “this is teaching children about sex and is brainwashing our kids” treatment.
According to one of their most recent articles, it discusses a potential lawsuit about the unfair banning on LGBTQ+ books in a Wyoming library. This was what they had to say on the situation:
“In Gillette, Wyoming, the outrage by MassResistance parents over the graphic sexual and homosexual books for youth in their county public library has continued to grow. But now the parents and their public officials realize that the library staff defends all its actions – and won’t back down an inch. The staff sees no problem with horribly obscene material in the hands of children and refuses to make any “judgments” about it.
For over a year, local Wyoming MassResistance parents and others have been pressuring the Campbell County Commission and the Library Board (which the Commission appoints) to force the library staff to remove the obscene sex books in the children’s and teen sections. Both boards were long dominated by hostile liberals, even in that “deep red” area, and progress was slow. But in 2022, the County Commission finally got a conservative majority, and in turn they appointed a majority-conservative Library Board.”
Majority of the arguments from Mass Resistance are incredibly one sided- with no real room to develop separate opinions. They write these otherwise minimal issues as a grand black and white issue.
We also see the classic framing that anything that is remotely anything LGBTQ+ positive is “sexual” and leads to child grooming.
Something to mention is that Mass Resistance says that they’ve been trying to remove LGBTQ+ books from the Wyoming Library Board for “over a year.” So they’ve either been trying hard to remove these books they don’t even read themselves from one single district, or they’re lying through their teeth.
You can tell they don’t research the books themselves by their cold reactions to them. They see anything as queer and their first reaction is to label it “porn” and ban it.
However, this isn’t their only claim to fame. Mass Resistance loves to discriminate against trans people and drag queens.
They have a whole category on their website dedicated to the supposed danger drag queens pose on kids, under the guise of it being “a battle Mass Resistance is fighting against.” But what are these drag queens doing that are so harmful?
Nothing. They’re getting hired to read in libraries at kids’ events. That’s literally it.
But here’s Mass Resistance trying to stop it because they think it’s a “danger to kids.”
From an article back in August 2nd, 2022, this was what Mass Resistance had to say to someone who “banned” drag queen readings:
“With the help of MassResistance, a fearless local pro-family group staged a bold pre-emptive action. They forced their local Library Board to enact a strong new policy that would make it nearly impossible for a “Drag Queen Story Hour” (DQSH) to come to their public library.”
Right from the get go, the first sentence starts off praising a person for their own cause, and puts their actions on a pedestal for doing the unnecessary.
“Then they noticed that a local left-wing activist group “Hudson Inclusion Alliance” had a prominent member who called herself a “drag queen mother” who is very proud of her Las Vegas drag queen son. It seemed like only a matter of time until they would bring Drag Queens into the Hudson public library.
Another problem was that the Hudson Library Board president – who controls the agenda of that body – conveyed to them that he doesn’t want to call attention to that issue, because there were “funding issues” going on that he didn’t want to jeopardize.
The parents desperately wanted to take proactive action to keep Drag Queen Story Hour from coming to Hudson. But they needed some good advice and strategic guidance to be successful.”
Throughout the entire article, they’ve never mentioned anything about a threat that drag queen readings really bring to Winsconsin. They just label it as a bad influence on children and leave it at that.
Just like how Mass Resistance tries to ban any way for LGBTQ+ people to thrive in any environment, there are, luckily, people who are trying to remove the “groomer” label from the LGBTQ+ community.
A popular example of this is with Mallory McMorrow, a Michigan senator who came under fire in May of 2022 for grooming allegations from anti-LGBTQ+ legislators. She’s been in an interview with NPR about her experience with the horrible accusations.
Before the interview, in April of the same year, she had a speech that went viral that was a response to the grooming allegations. Her interview with NPR followed suit.
The NPR interview gives a bit explanation to the history of LGBTQ+ association with the term as well, especially with trans people, which is still a relatively new discussion.
One of the other people interviewed for this article was Evan Wolfson, a prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist. He’s said this about the newer, transphobic issue involving the groomer term:
“The trans conversation is relatively newer,” Wolfson says, “and therefore more susceptible to confusion, to distraction and to primal fear, which is what pushing the button about kids is intended to do.”
All and all, this whole controversy is a borderline conspiracy theory, but does nothing but continue to foster fear and hysteria in order to discriminate and deny people rights.
The LGBTQ+ community has gone through so much over the past decades, only to be denied rights or get hit with accusations left to right. It’s certainly stressful for the community at large.
So, how can we stop this?
Well, you can’t exactly. For as long there are LGBTQ+ people and allies fighting for their rights, there will always be people trying to push them down by fostering fear and hysteria.
Spreading the message around and fighting against it seems to be the only real method of stopping the spread of the groomer message. It’s not much, but it’s the best people can do.
One day, LGBTQ+ people will find a place to thrive, and have their rights- free of discrimination. It’s wishful thinking, but soon, it will be plausible.
When? We’ll just have to wait and see.