Imagine this scenario: A married mother and father encourage their 11-year-old daughter to dress in sexually provocative clothing. They take her to a strip club and allow her to dance onstage. The patrons throw money at her. No one touches the girl in any way, given the environment. What are we to think of these parents?
Now imagine this scenario: A priest invites an altar boy to spend evenings with him. The priest encourages the boy to dress in women’s clothing. The priest tells the boy how nice he looks and how wonderful it is that he is expressing his true self. The boy and the priest spend time together watching videos of men in drag. He arranges for the 11-year-old boy to perform at a nightclub that caters primarily to a homosexual clientele. The patrons throw money at the boy. No one, including the priest, touches the boy, at the club or elsewhere. What are we to think of the priest?
These completely hypothetical scenarios are based on the real-life events of an 11-year-old boy named Desmond. He wears women’s clothing. His parents say he chooses the clothing and he enjoys wearing it. His choices are not just ordinary women’s clothing, but provocative women’s clothing.
In fact, his choice of clothing is stereotypical drag-queen clothing. His parents have arranged for him to have his own website, “Desmond Is Amazing,” to showcase his talents as a drag performer.
I don’t know if anyone has inappropriately touched him. But his parents did arrange for him to perform at a gay nightclub, where the patrons threw money at him.
If a mother and father did this to a little girl, we would think there was something seriously wrong with them. If a priest did this to a little boy, the whole country would be in an uproar.
We would instantly recognize either of these situations as exploitation and endangerment of an innocent child. We would recognize the nightclub performance as sexual grooming. Any adult who supported this would be regarded as a scoundrel. Some people might call on Child Protective Services to take the child into custody or demand the local authorities confiscate the nightclub’s liquor license.
I bring this up not to remove Desmond from his parents or to shut down the New York nightclub that hosted Desmond’s performance.
Instead, I want to issue a challenge to people who identify themselves as part of the “LGBTQ community”: Please stand up and publicly object to this.
I’ve seen a few individuals who describe themselves as “gay” or “liberal” objecting to this on social media. I am urging more of you to speak up.
The “Gay Establishment” could put a stop to this egregious exploitation of a child. They could speak publicly about boundaries and the innocence of childhood. In addition, it could probably solve this immediate problem without public incident. Someone from the Human Rights Campaign or other advocacy organization could quietly call up Desmond’s parents: “Look, we’ve spent millions of dollars convincing Middle America that transgenderism is harmless, heteronormativity is unnecessary, and that we aren’t interested in sexualizing children. You are creeping people out. Knock off the gay-bar scene with your 11-year-old.” I bet Desmond’s parents could be persuaded.
If those who consider themselves “sexual minorities” or “gender-nonconforming” were to speak up, the Gay Establishment just might listen.
Do these organizations really speak for everyone who identifies as “LGBT” on every issue? How about on this particular issue — of whether an 11-year-old should be performing in a nightclub of this type?
I raise this question from my own experience as a nonconforming, nonfeminist woman. Establishment feminism does not speak for me. Oh, sure, they try to create the impression that they speak for all women all the time. But they don’t speak for me or most of my friends. They have never spoken for me, and I have been a woman my entire life. That is what makes me wonder whether the Gay Establishment really speaks for all the people who identify themselves under its umbrella.
If they really want to contribute to the well-being of this preteen, they should speak out against his sexualization. Urge them to speak up on social media against this sexualization of a child. Urge them to write to the Human Rights Campaign, or any other advocacy group they may support. You can write to these organizations, as well. They will be more likely to listen to you than to me.
Then maybe we can put a stop to the exploitation of this child.
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute and the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and How the Church Has Been Right All Along.
Send emails to the Human Rights Campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.