It’s never a good position to be in, being the bearer of bad news, but sometimes it’s a necessary one. I’ve run the numbers, read the tea, and communed with the spirits. 2022 is going to be a difficult year for queer people everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong. 2021 was bad enough. We could use an in-between year to take a breather. But, judging by a year-long analysis of political and social trends, that’s unlikely to happen.
Let’s preface this tale of doom and gloom with a disclaimer. It’s a commonly-held belief in historical studies that now – right now – is the best time to be alive. There’s more freedom, less disease, and greater access to healthcare, food, and security for humans across the globe than any previous time.
Objectively speaking, 2022 is going to be the best year ever. Isn’t that nice?
But the simple fact of the matter is that “best ever” is a subjective assessment that applies in different measures to different groups of people. Your individual results may vary.
Queer people have been playing the same game as heterosexuals since the dawn of time, we’re just locked into a much higher difficulty level. That’s not going to change in the next 12 months.
Here are a few reasons we need to be on our toes, practice self-care, and be smart about our privacy and safety in 2022.
The Poland situation
The European Union’s looking a little… splintery these days. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily foresee a full-on Polexit. But right-wing leaders are becoming a bit blustery over whether the nation’s constitution or the EU’s rules should have precedence.
That probably shouldn’t have anything to do with queer people… but here we are. In Poland, the right is, of course, also the religious right. And that means they’re only as politically and socially viable as their ability to conjure up a spooky enemy to hate and rail against.
In Poland’s case, that enemy is the LGBTQPIA+ community. And not just Poland. There’s a burgeoning right-wing movement in eastern Europe that includes major support in Hungary.
Here’s a little recap from an article by Tony Wesolowski on Radio Free Europe:
“Low points of the year included an attack on a LGBT community center in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, led by a far-right leader who ran in the country’s presidential election; a new law in Hungary banning information in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change; and several so-called “LGBT-ideology free zones” continued to operate in Poland.”
It’s a no-brainer, the situation’s only going to get worse in 2022.
The US situation
There’s a time to write flowery words or pound home statistics, and there’s a time to keep it real. Now’s the latter.
On the one hand, it’s glorious. Nobody does complex bigotry and self-sabotage like the US. It’s the only place where being queer can help you make hundreds of millions on YouTube or get you fired from your job because your boss is a Tucker Carlson fan.
It can also get you murdered. 2021 was the deadliest year since records began being kept for trans and nonbinary people. This is a trend that’s been going on far too long and there’s no end in sight.
In a Washington Post investigation of records spanning from 2015-2020, journalists identified 140 transgender women who’d been murdered.
Per the report:
“The majority — roughly 69 percent of solved cases — were thought to have been killed by someone with whom they’d had prior contact. More than 75 percent of those killed were Black transgender women.”
This isn’t unique to the US (just like the bigotry of Poland’s right-wing leaders isn’t exclusive to eastern Europe). It’s becoming an international crisis.
If there’s one prediction I’ll dare to make about US politics, it’s this: if conservatives make good on their scheme to overrun nation-wide school board elections with right-wing candidates, we’re going to need to set up outreach programs to get queer people out of red counties.
If you live in the US, 2022 is a great year to finally take a vested interest in your local politics. Elected officials in the right-wing are openly calling for a “divorce” between right-wing and liberal-leaning territories in the country.
I don’t even want to get into how insipidly stupid that idea is – mostly because it would actually work out in queer people’s favor. Are you seriously threatening to move all the conservatives to one side of the country? Oh no, anything but that!
The quantification of queerness situation
Oh, you’re queer? Name 27 Madonna songs and explain why Beyonce is better. How many queer sexual encounters have you had? Where’s your queer life partner? Are you going to adopt?
That sounds like a joke, but it’s essentially what you have to go through to become a certified LGBT-operated business owner in the States.
That probably seems a bit random, but here’s my point: we’re closing in on a single moment where society, as a whole, has to reckon with the fact that queerness can’t possibly be quantified.
What makes someone gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, or any other kind of queer is quite literally none of science’s business. You can’t quantify it. I was queer before I ever touched, kissed, or loved someone who didn’t fit the heterosexual model. If I never have another “queer experience” I’ll still be queer.
You can’t detect that with math or models, it’s up to me. And the same goes for everyone. Open challenge to anyone who thinks you can quantify an effective binary model for queerness.
The reason I think we should all be concerned is that once the reality of the “quantifying queerness” problem becomes common knowledge, I predict that “gaydar” is going to become a cottage industry.
And, by “gaydar,” I mean nasty people doxxing, outing, and ostracizing anyone they even suspect of being queer. That might sound like business-as-usual for life as a queer person, but I’m suggesting that it’s going to become more concentrated and better orchestrated.
The harder it is to draw a clear separation between queer people and bigots, the more the latter’s going to want to prove they can tell the difference. It feels like things could reach a fever-pitch in 2022.
With all that being said, queer people have had the deck stacked against us for as long as bigotry has existed. And we’ve never let it stop us before.
Here’s hoping you thrive in 2022. Happy New Year!
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Tristan is a futurist who values life, humanity, and taco soup. He/him