My Thoughts on that “Super Secret Quilter Group”

Last week screenshots from a secret conservative quilter group were leaked by a whistleblower showing very nasty, hateful, homophobic, bigoted actions by a small group of women.  Some of these women are famous in the quilting world (even prior to being outed for their hateful viewpoints) and they felt they were in a safe space where they could talk and say anything about other quilters.  The quilters they attacked with their hate speech and actions are different than them in many ways. Perhaps they had a different political viewpoint, different hairstyle, different sexual orientation, different religious or world view. It was all fair game to these women in their “safe space”.

There are more screenshots that have been made public and you’re more than welcome to dig around on Facebook to see all of them.  Karen McTavish was one of the quilters bullied and she responded with a video.  Because I believe awareness is a first step in combating bullying and intolerance in our community I felt the need to share this on my own blog.

Hate speech is not new especially in the internet age. What these women bullies did was take things a step further by organizing their group to contact Sponsors and the owners of the businesses where the “different quilters” worked at to try and get them fired or their sponsorships removed. The leaked messages date back several months. The hate continued as the group tried to discover and identify the whistleblower within the group.

Not all of the things that happened in that group were made public.  Several messages were kept private due to the incendiary and hateful nature towards one quilter in particular. What we saw was just a taste of the views and opinions that they and others within the group had.

As someone that has always been weird and different her entire life it hurts me deeply to see that people like me are attacked by others of our own hobby. Hate and intolerance breeds more hate and intolerance. Growing up and being raised in a strict Pentecostal household I saw much of the two-faced, bigoted, hateful words and actions by “Christians” and it turned me off to the point that I shunned the church and went my own way as an adult. To be accepted by that community meant I’d have to become someone I’m not. I’d rather be my colorful, loving, accepting self than associate with people that act one way in front of others and say bad things about me or people like me behind my back… all in the guise of “hate the sin love the sinner”.  That is exactly what some of these quilters in the secret group did… they acted one way in messages and in person at national shows and another when they bullied these same people in their secret group.

I’m bisexual and proud, it’s not a secret. I’ve had the opportunity to share a lot of love in my life because of that and I hope I can make a difference in the world to fight against the hate and intolerance that I see every day.  We’ve come so far as a country to accept others and validate their love no matter their gender or race.  When I see news stories about gay men being caned in public I’m very thankful that my country has a deeper understanding and acceptance of it’s citizens rights. It won’t take much to go back to the days of old when you had to be closeted unless we stand up for each other.  Not that long ago my marriage would have been illegal and I have so many to thank for fighting for my right to marry my husband.

What I find troubling days later is the lack of accountability by most the perpetrators of the hate filled messages and actions. Instead of accepting what they did was wrong, apologizing sincerely to the people they hurt, taking action to have empathy for people that are not like them and understand them better, they choose to attack the people that have revealed the messages.  I believe everyone should be held accountable for their words and actions. I also believe that people can change, they can make mistakes, they can improve over time and work to right the wrongs they’ve made if they are held accountable for their actions.

To the women that silently tolerated the hateful messages in that group and said nothing…

Hateful, bigoted words are evil. I’m totally fine if you have a different belief system, different opinion, different political view and voice it.  Free speech is incredibly important and we are so lucky as a country to have that protected in our constitution.  Free speech doesn’t mean you’re immune to the consequences of your words.  Don’t like the consequences? Maybe you should search long and hard to figure out why your words hurt other people.  See a list of people involved in this bigotry and decide whether to support them or not with your money. 

Some women stood up and said something. That made me very proud. I celebrate them and I also celebrate the women that have sincerely apologized to the people they deeply hurt.

I am very excited to see the art that has been inspired by this act of intolerance. If any good will come from this I know at the very least quilters will create something beautiful from this example of homophobia, pain, hate and division within our own.

Speak up. Speak up against homophobia, bullying, racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance even when it’s hard, uncomfortable and when you might lose friends over it. You never know who you are strengthening with your words and how far they will reach.

Comments

  1. Exactly! I felt the same need, to speak up. Otherwise, I felt it was giving tacit approval.

    • Well-Put, fellow quilters! I shared the screenshot on Karen and received a lot of hateful, hurtful responses because of it. There is no need for hatred, finger-pointing, etc. People who claim to be Christians obviously don’t know what that word means and have totally missed the point to “Love one another. “

  2. Not only did most not apologize, even some who DID apologize, still joined a brand new replacement group, so they can have a safe place to continue their evil.

    • Oh I have no doubt. And they have fresh targets standing up calling them out. I’m ready.

    • Connect the dots Frank. You chose to stalk my family & even those who have apologized for your feewlngs being hurt don’t want to be part of your drama or your methods.

      Connect the dots, the picture will emerge. Everything wrong in your silly game has one thing in common. You. You are your problem.

      Don’t start a fight with strangers then whine when those strangers swat you like a gnat.

      Don’t ever use the poor judgement of going after my family again.

      • Frank Palmer says:

        Dusti,
        Nobody stalked your family.
        YOU, however, stalked my page, copied my photo, posted it to your wall, asking your “gay friends” to come after me. I haven’t heard from any, so you obviously have none.
        I didn’t start the fight. Janine and her band of hateful bigots decided to go after people BEHIND THEIR BACK, which is obviously YOUR method as well.
        Your family threatened to harm innocent people, simply for their political beliefs, and then decided to act like victims when they got called out on it. That’s not how it works.
        You want to threaten me on the internet with all of these witnesses? Go ahead. You and your slimy ilk are the problem. Thankfully, your little band of ticks are the minority. And growing smaller by the day.

      • Lauren T. Furey says:

        You also threatened more than just Frank. You posted my home address. You posted what you called my “aliases” (which included my two former married names, plus those same names with my middle initial). I alerted my wife, just in case something came in the mail or on our doorstep. Of course I screen shotted all of it so I have something to hand to the police should anything happen. And thank YOU Katie for standing up and speaking out.

  3. After reading some of the screenshots, I changed one of the classes I’m registered for at the Grand Rapids AQS show. Hopefully, the other two teachers I’m now registered for weren’t in the screenshots I didn’t read. (I got sick of reading them and sort of felt dirty continuing, so I stopped.)

    Katie, you are about to get my rant that I have been withholding for months and months. Please, anyone reading this, read it all the way to the end before you decide I’m one of those close-minded conservative Christians.

    I am a conservative Bible-believing Christian. For years I have been disturbed by the behavior of many other people, including other Bible-believing (or so they say) Christians. Last year, when the whole Trump bandwagon really got going and some evangelical “leaders” endorsed such a flawed person, I started looking long and hard in the Bible to see how that would be justified. What I found there was interesting. Jesus, who I’m trying to emulate as much as is humanly possible (pretty unsuccessfully most of the time, I’m afraid) stayed away from politics most of the time. He wasn’t here for that. He was here to draw people into individual relationships with God through Himself. He didn’t sit around condemning sinners. The only people he yelled at, got angry with, condemned in any way, were the religious leaders who should have known better.

    What does that mean for me as a Christian?

    If Jesus, who knew everyone’s hearts and sins didn’t choose to judge them here on earth, then I need to stay as far away from that as possible! Seriously. My job is to point people to Him. The Bible tells me that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of sin and draw them into changing their ways. Not mine! That, by the way, is also my experience. Although, as a sinful human, I am frequently not very successful and get to be really grateful for grace.

    All this to say, as a conservative Christian quilter, I’m horrified at the behavior of those women. I’m also more than a little disturbed about the leaker because I’m not sure what real good came of that. People were hurt unnecessarily. It would have been far better if the leaker had confronted the rest of the group, but that takes real courage, I know. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that myself, although maybe I would have given them my rant here. We will never know.

    Anyway, thanks for listening and God bless you all!

    • Gretchen,

      It warms my heart to hear Christians like you truly thinking about their ideals and how they should relate to politics. Too often I see politicians use religion as a way to gain support when they aren’t following the teachings of the religion with their own actions or even in the way the vote for their constituents. I’ve never understood that disconnect myself.

      Thanks for sharing your viewpoint with me and with others. It’s a powerful testimony.

    • Gretchen, Amen, Amen, and Amen! We were pushed out of a conservative church we loved over the election… Because I can’t support Christians who care more about power than trying to live like Jesus

  4. What we need to do is make sure that we keep this sort of conversation going. There are a lot of issues in the quilting world that make different groups of people not feel welcome. Clearly homophobia is an issue, but also racism, sexism, straight out bullying and mean girl behavior, etc. The culture of the quilt world is changing, because many younger, modern and progressive quilters are looking for a spot at the lunch table. We don’t deal with with mean girl bullshit that tells us there IS no room at the table. Because one of two things will happen, the mean girls will be displaced from their tables and/or we will make a bigger and loving and inclusive table for the rest of us.

  5. What this world needs is love for one another as is
    Not any other way

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this… I was not aware of any of this. I think it’s very important to speak up, so thanks for sharing the story and your words of wisdom!

  7. Thank you for your blog.
    I could write a book about this topic. As non-conforming quilters (an army out there) we know the issue is complex.
    It is wise to explain to any hate group that most comments on the internet are not secret – it’s the internet.
    My only thought to add is nothing beautiful is created from a hateful heart.
    Nothing creative can come from hate.
    No beauty, no song, no painting, no dance – nothing can be created without passion and bravery.
    To be loving in your head and heart – makes the artist.

  8. shelly grappe says:

    I was taught to move away from any person or group that degrades others in a rabid and vicious way.
    I have never had the stomach or the patience to listen to anyone who believes that the path they are on is the only one that should be taken. I was taught not to argue with a a foolish person, as then the argument had 2 fools in it. You young” wippersnappers”, choose your path…wander off it, live your life in moderation, do no harm in your life’s travel. Life on this planet is 10 seconds long, use your seconds with intent and joy.
    We all belong to the same tribe….Like it or not!!!!!! shelly beth

  9. Sandy Bandt says:

    Thank you for your wonderful words. It amazes me that any of us tolerate these people, and I believe they SHOULD be “outed”! I think it’s a great idea that this not swept under the rug, but those folks need their picture up loud and proud so that we all know their name!

  10. So much hate is in the name of religion. If you are a Christian it is really simple and straight from the Bible “Love One Another”.

    • Dan Schmidt says:

      Exactly! It sickened me to see one of the comments that read “….how can a leftist be a Christian?” I am a liberal and attend an ELCA Lutheran church. My God is a God of Love. That is all.

      • carol g says:

        That disgusted me as well. My God says “Love one another” and I’m as liberal as they come.

  11. kay durham says:

    I totally agree with Karen McTavish post. I am sick of the hate being spread from both sides. Her video and words are the only sane things I have heard about this. Goodness sakes….playing to one political side is such a silly business model. It makes perfect sense if i pay for class/etc. I DONT PAY FOR YOUR advice or sermon, political likes/dislikes or religiqous/nonreligeous viewspoints!! I dont want ot hear any of it!! If you need platform get a self help group started. Keep me out of it. Perhaps this is what these women were doing-who knows-dont care. I dont believe in boycotting or subversive techniques but if I have tried to get someone to stick to topic I paid for and they refuse or resort to reverse discrimination tactics….they leave me no other choice but to ask their “boss” to have them stop it. These people however secretive or ridiculous were within their rights as people to have opinions however ignorant or crude. Would I belong to group-NO!! Was it bullying–idk…define:use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants. Sounds like BOTH sides have some soul searching to do and stop the harrassment on BOTH sides now!!! For petes sake we live in country were we are allowed to have an opinion. If you dont like it you live in free world to change channel, change groups, start your own. It is bullying on BOTH sides to call foul when BOTH SIDES ARE AT FAULT. Yes words hurt…emotions matter…..all sides need take some personal responsibility for inappropriate boundaries!! ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

  12. Oh Katie! Wow, I’ve been blissfully ignorant the last few weeks and heard you mention it on your podcast (yeah….good to hear from you again!!) and had to come check it out on your site. My heart hurts for the quilters and artists affected and targeted by those people. Horrible! What is wrong with humanity? One word…KARMA. xoxo my friend 🙂

  13. Adva Price says:

    great blog post!

  14. I apparently got caught up in the conversations this group had because I helped curate Threads of Resistance. I too am bisexual, and I am a breast cancer advocate who has nude photos on the web. When I heard that I might be a target of this groups hate, I cringed. I wondered if I should speak up, add to the conversation. Separately of this event, I have also been bullied online. Bullying is not acceptable. What we need to do is figure out how to talk through our differences and make connection, not tear one another apart and build walls of difference. I resent being targeted for creating opportunity to make artwork to speak to social and political current events. Art has higher meaning and those of us who make it ought to respect that making space to get art seen is IMPORTANT. All of the bullies could have used their negative energy to make artwork depicting their views and submitted it. Instead they chose to tear down those whose voice they deemed threatening. Their sad loss.

  15. Kathi Montoya says:

    Thank you Katie! I completely agree with you. Yes, there is no place for hateful, vitriolic, (yes, I’m going to say it) evil things in this life. We as human beings are all in this together. We have so little time on this planet; why waste time trying to destroy another little bundle of atoms? No day is ever promised to us; we never know when we lay down our head to sleep, run an errand, or become aware of a nagging pain, if our little store of mortality is all used up. These folks should make beauty, make joy; they need to make sure that the memories left behind after they leave this earth are wonderful, full of kindness and grace. John Lennon said it best with “Imagine”…Katie, you are appreciated.

  16. JD Brown says:

    thank you for being you and standing up for others!

  17. I am late to the conversation because of my low use of social networking but I hope someone can/will post the names of the bullies. I want to be sure my money doesn’t go to support any of their work through buying their books, classes, etc. We are all entitled to live our personal values but the line is drawn (for me) in trying to choose how others live.

    Katie and I share some experiences. I grew up in Christian families (plural) because I lived in foster care for much of my youth. The “Christian”, mostly Pentecostal, homes were filled with neglect along with physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I survived only because brave teachers noted my situation and repeatedly called child protective services on my behalf. Oh…and ALL of the abusive homes had devout “Christian” women who ignored what their husbands and/or sons were doing. So…the secret society of bullies who are sure only THEY are living the right way and sit in judgement of those of us who don’t live like them, might want to look within their own homes and hearts FIRST.