A lot of similar questions have come up over the last week since my first Autostraddle piece was published and addressing them all individually — as I have been — is quite a lot, as you can imagine. While I’m working on follow up pieces, I wanted to answer some of the most common questions and provide some explanation.
Why haven’t you written about this before?
Many other homeschool alumni and myself have been speaking out against these organizations and talking about their plans for years, it’s only now that people beyond our bubble have started paying attention (thank goodness). I would like to direct your attention to Homeschooler’s Anonymous, Love Joy Feminism and Kathryn Brightbill. From there you can jump down any number of rabbit holes and learn about any organization that I mentioned in my previous post and most likely ones that I’ll bring up in the future, in great detail.
How did you escape/Why not write about how you escaped?
I have about 8 years of archives just for you, depicting all of this in great detail as it happened. My blog is called Bridging the Gap. Specifically, I recommend My Elaborate Plan, about my literal escape, with links to a lot of backstory; and Preparing a Visionary Daughter to Do Hard Things, a synopsis of events and my background that I wrote when I was 19.
How do we fight back?
I am writing a follow up with recommendations on how to do exactly that. While I will never personally condemn the punching of Christofascist nazis; nazi punching should only be done when you are aware of your surroundings and can get away safely. My recommendations won’t include nazi punching as a strategy (there are better resources than myself for that aspect), but will be focused on things we can do today with the goal of solving problems long-term.
What do you mean, “they’re not worth arguing with”?
If a stranger – or someone who is pegged as an outsider – starts talking to you about something fundamental to your identity and how wrong it is, you are less likely to listen to them. Talking to conservative evangelicals about their ideas with the intent of convincing them they’re wrong isn’t going to work. When we leave, there is a high chance that we lose everything. Leaving the faith is like having the floor fall out from under you. This isn’t something that is likely to happen in one conversation because of how much is at stake. Going up to Christofascists and saying “hey, you’re wrong” isn’t effective and your energy is better spent working to counter their movement. However, if you are a trusted friend, then maybe they’ll be more likely to listen.
The straw the broke the camel’s back for me, was realizing my parents lied to me about the inevitability of the deaths of my stillborn siblings. That’s not really something that can be replicated from a conversation with an outsider. However, I want to emphasize the importance of doubt and kindness. Arguing is fruitless, but if you plant a seed of doubt, that is good; if you are kind when you encounter kids in these families, they’ll notice. You can do this without saying a word and just by existing. When I saw queer people just existing and being normal, that went so much further than anything else. I was taught that any queer person would try to convert me to queerness on the spot! As if that’s how it works.
In short, what I mean by “we can’t dialogue” is: they won’t listen if they’re confronted head on about their beliefs. If you just live your life, answer questions and are kind when you encounter these families as you go about your day-to-day, that will go much much further.
This hasn’t been a question but there has been a lot of confusion about it. I am a nonbinary trans person which means I’m neither a man or a woman. My pronoun is the singular they, like from Shakespeare or when you don’t know who’s at the door. It involves adjusting the english language a bit, I know, I am also a grammar nerd. “They” is the most accurate way to describe me if you don’t feel like using my name. If you want a sentence example: This is Kieryn, they like blue and they taught themselves to hack.
Lastly, writing these pieces involves going back through memories and capital “T” Trauma that I am working through with my therapist. I am essentially going back through a minefield and trying to dig them up to explain how everything’s connected and how to fight by using their strategy against them. I deeply appreciate the outpouring of support and understanding from everyone as I continue to write while also taking care of myself.