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  • Writer's pictureMaurice Rubio-McMillon

Save Our Youth, Save The World

Handsome young man representing the whole of lgbtq youth in need of our support
Support LGBTQ+ Organizations

To Governor Ron DeSantis & most of the Florida legislators imposing their ideologies onto Floridians:

I implore you to save our LGBTQ+ youth and thereby the world. You were elected to represent all Floridians; not just the wealthy, not just a particular sect of Christianity, not just those that have white under race on their ID’s. ALL of us. The past few weeks you have failed to achieve this, but good news – you have the power to change everything.

I am the great-grandson of Mary F. Apeler-Black, a descendent of the Ponz family whom settled here from the Minorcan Islands of Spain in the 1700s, long before Florida was a state. Our family, as most, has grown from an exposure to an eclectic mix of nationalities, ethnic groups, and cultures. Our heritage spans from Europe, Africa and South America to Cherokee, Black Foot, Gullah Geechee, Southern White/ Black American, LGBTQ and so on. Each generation has brought forth new conflicts between cultural identities and language adaptation that we’ve overcome to remain a family. Our understanding of love and acceptance of the breadth of God’s kingdom has grown because of these challenges, not in spite of them.

Now, you aim to stifle that growth for millions of people and families by setting the stage for hate and prejudice. You have no inkling of the effect if will have as a result on the our entire world. So let me help you understand.

If we don’t confront the real issue, then we sentence ourselves to repeat the horrors of history.

Let’s save the world, together.

Back By Popular Demand

(left to right) Damien Strowbridge and Noé Torres pose for a photograph while dancing at a Treasure Coast Pride Event.
PRIDE In Spite Of Anti-Gay Laws

It shocks some people that the LGBTQ population is steadily increasing. 20 years ago, we were told that one in 10 people might be gay, but today 20% of Gen Z identifies at LGBTQ. Rather than recognizing the positive effects this statistic shows us, you’ve decided to label the entire community, especially transgender people, as a threat.

What exactly are we threatening by existing? Certainly we are not threatening life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness…

Gov. DeSantis, you and your party followers are calling for the eradication of us starting with our most vulnerable members – transsexuals. If you believe that our presence being removed from public life would somehow stop the onward march of LGBTQ culture then consider my words.

None of us over the age of 30 were raised accepting homosexuality. None of us were taught about anyone in history being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or trans. None of us were exposed to celebrities on TV or in any other media that were openly gay. If LGBTQ+ people were removed from society today, and all our stories burned and forgotten, do you know what would happen?

I do.

The Issue

Your children and your children’s children would still find love with someone of the same sex/gender… if you need proof, consider all of history and LGBTQ+ people’s erasure, yet here I am writing this post. No amount of erasure will ever prevent the natural evolution of human sexuality.

The issue is that people experience sexual confusion when they find themselves caught between what they were indoctrinated to (heteronormative culture) and what their heart demands. You believe that our existence confuses people, but it doesn’t. The programming we receive from birth to puberty is what confuses us. Our hearts and bodies desire what our culture and society decries as non-conformity.

Those who conform are awoken to new ideas, inspired by love and attraction, and tempted and confused by those whom do not. So it makes sense that you’d think to eradicate the temptation and confusion by eradicating the non-conformist. Except, that this process of love and attraction is natural…

The Solution

Extremists believe that being gay is infectious, and creates confusion in straight people. They’re partly right in that being loved and accepted is infectious. But one’s sexuality is dependent on their individual attraction to another, which may change and shift as subtilely or wildly as the wind blows.

Gov. DeSantis, the solution to the issue was already in progress. As we become a more inclusive world, people are free to be attracted to and love one another without restrictions to sex/gender. This is a good thing. New definitions of family and relationships were forming and becoming defined. People that might have once been homeless were finding somewhere to belong… boys that once may not have been attracted to the heteronormative gender of a girl, may have found their match in a trans boy…

How incredible… we’d have gone through all of that to find that homosexual men and women allowed to express themselves beyond the limitations of boy and girl genders may still find attraction to each other, because we’ve evolved past even that.

The Need for LGBTQ+ Communities

There are many stories, historical and fictional, that exist and perpetuate the understanding that people must discover personal truths for themselves; those beliefs that individual experiences and reflections prove or disprove to be true. Laws and norms are put in place by an authority that preceded individuals to block them from undergoing the journey to these self discoveries for a myriad of reasons, some legitimate concerns and some in an effort to keep a super majority in control and every intention between them.

People will seek understanding and happiness despite the laws or norms. We know this, because at one point we each had to experience this ourselves. Good laws and rules help individuals make self discoveries with healthy guidance to decrease the likelihood of sickness, serious injury, or death to an individual, a group, or a community. Communities, not laws, define norms or behavior expectations.

The LGBTQ community is relatively new in its current state. While LGBTQ people have existed since the beginning of human civilization, it has not benefited from a long, perpetual acceptance amongst the many cultures that have colonized the world and re-written human history. Since the Stonewall Riots of the 1960s in the United States, our community has gained stability and some legal protections, allowing it to evolve as a result. We have uncovered long forgotten queer stories, historical figures and events that manifested positive change in the world and continues to propel us forward towards a higher understanding of human sexuality, gender, and biology.

The understanding we are developing benefits all of humanity. The lines between straight and gay culture blur, revealing the truth that many of us already knew. There are no differences between us, but the barriers within us.

Save & Support LGBTQ+ Organizations

In the 60s, gay bars were the center of gay culture because there were few safe spaces available to homosexuals. Today, gay bars are slowly disappearing as mainstream culture evolves and makes the need for these exclusive places less necessary. As we’ve LGBTQ+ community centers and organizations have developed to provide sports, social events, education, advocacy, business alliances, and more.

In Florida, we have a number of organizations. Here are some that I’ve encountered:

PFLAG of the Treasure Coast

Equality Florida representatives visit a small, local youth organization to educate members on advocacy programs and strategies.
Equality Florida Helping TCYA Members Become Advocates

In 2009, my 14-year-old sister introduced me to two boys from her middle school that were being bullied and harassed because they stood out. Neither of them were confirmed to be LGBTQ, but they needed support and guidance. After a few conversations it became clear that the boys were members of the LGBTQ community, one identified as gay and the other as unsure, but open minded. Even being open minded was enough for his peers to insult and physically hurt him.

When I came out of the closet, my great aunt took me to a PFLAG meeting in Vero Beach. PFLAG is an acronym for Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays; it was more for my family than it was for me, but going helped me to feel acknowledged and accepted. I wasn’t sure if PFLAG had changed much, but there was now a chapter on the Treasure Coast, so I took the boys there as I learned more about safe spaces for youth. At the time, PFLAG-TC was looking to create a youth group because they kept receiving inquiries for places for LGBTQ youth to go.

Treasure Coast Youth Alliance

Logo of TCYA, featuring a spread out hand in the center of a circle with a 5-point star in its palm.

It wasn’t part of my plan, but I ended up helping them form the Treasure Coast Youth Alliance. The alliance was a social group where LGBTQ kids 12-17 could meet, speak their mind, and learn more about the community and themselves. More than that, it was a place where they could be acknowledged and accepted.

At our height, we had 46 teens registered with the group, but sadly in 2011 we ran out of funding and spaces to continue our meetings. It crushed my heart to have to let the alliance go, but it’s impact has never been forgotten. One of my greatest joys is to be approached by some of our past members, now nearing their late 20s and early 30s, that remind me of how much that group meant to them.

Given the current political climate, I believe now is the time to seek it’s re-establishment.

HB1557 - "Don't Say Gay"

LGBTQ+ History Poster featuring 24 LGBTQ+ historical figures that were either ignored or misconstrued in history.

We were told that HB 1557 was a bill to protect parental rights of K-3 graders. The intent was to remove the discussion and direct instruction of gender and sexuality from the classroom. It also required teachers to report changes in student’s behaviors as it related to sexuality to parents. Interesting, that we’d accept that K-3 has no appropriate amount of conversation involving gender or sexuality, but changes in students with regards to gender or sexuality may be observed and reported.

The bill recently was amended (April 2023) to include grades 4-12. Now the state defines what is an appropriate age for discussions on gender and sexuality for all students.

In response to this bill, I created a poster for use in classrooms like mine where students could and should learn about historical figures that were also part of the LGBTQ community. Many proponents of the bill suggest that a person’s sexuality is irrelevant to their actions, but art and culture has taught us that an individual’s socio-economic position, cultural upbringing, and the political challenges that existed during their time all affect their expression and motivations.

Sexuality is under attack right now, so it stands to reason that it was also under attack in the past and influenced authors, artists, politicians, philosophers, warriors, spiritual leaders, and so many, many more.

Treasure Coast Pride '23 VS Legislation

Screenshot of a post made by Pride of the Treasure Coast emphasizing the changes to Pride festivals due to the new laws in Florida.

Already, we have seen the effects of 400+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills (ACLU) being passed throughout the US.

Here on the Treasure Coast, our pride festival (which is more family friendly than some Comic Cons ), has been restricted to 21+ and the parade has been banned out of fear of losing a liquor license at the MidFlorida Event Center.

Here’s an idea of what we’re facing around the country:

  • Prohibition of the use of preferred pronouns or names if they don’t correspond with students sex as defined at birth

  • Students cannot be asked their pronouns

  • Prohibition of instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-12

  • Bans on gender-affirming care for youth into young adulthood

  • Bans on trans athletes

  • Removal of local school board approval power

  • Forced de-transition of trans youth

  • Allowing of DCF to remove children and their siblings from parents on the basis of gender re-assignment

  • Criminalization of public drag performances

  • State clerks may refuse to officiate gay marriages

  • Doctors/insurance companies may refuse care or coverage based on religious beliefs

  • 3rd Degree felony for doctors that violate; statute of limitations is 20 years

  • LGBTQ+/ Civil Rights book bans in schools/public libraries

  • LGBTQ+ People being deemed pedophiles and groomers

  • Requirement of public bathrooms specific to sex, allows a person to accuse another of being in the wrong bathroom and demanding that they leave; can result in arrest

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