The Freaks are Us

Hollywood has produced a terrific, though historically inaccurate, movie based on the life of showman P.T. Barnum. It is a singing and dancing extravaganza that is highly compelling, though the songs are of the pop variety. Even so, the opening sequence alone, which recapitulates the story of Barnum’s fictional life, is worth the price of admission.

The movie tells the story of a young hustler trying to make a living in New York City circa 1870. He loses his job as a clerk in a shipping company when the firm’s ships sink in a typhoon, but he manages to steal documents purporting to show he owns the ships, the fate of which he hides from the bank that accepts them as collateral for a loan.

Barnum takes the loan and opens a museum of wax figures, a venture no one is much interested in. His children suggest he put something “live” into the museum and he hits upon showing “freaks”: a midget billed as Tom Thumb, a bearded lady, a tattooed lady, a fat man. He also hires a young black woman and her brother as trapeze artists. The show is a massive hit.

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The public is of two minds about Barnum’s circus. While the seats are filled every night with enthusiastic fans, a small coterie of protesters shout and sneer outside. And where Barnum hungers for the approval of the upper classes, the elite, they look down upon him and his freaks.

Our sympathy extends to the freaks over against the intolerant townspeople who picket the theater and the elites who look down their noses at these people who are merely different, born that way, you might say.

The movie is a clever and very appealing piece of propaganda. Hell, I liked it immensely.

But, consider a song performed by the bearded lady.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)

I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious…


This is me
and I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) ’cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
This is me

The bearded lady says, “they” do not want her “broken parts,” they want to grind her down to dust, shame her, cut her down, even shoot her with bullets. But she is not going to let them. She is going to “send a flood, drown them out.” She says she is brave and “this is who I’m meant to be.” This may sound very familiar to those who listen to the arguments of the LGBTs. See, she was born with a full beard. She was born to be the bearded lady and being the bearded lady simply cannot be changed by the bigots and haters. It should be noted that the original bearded lady shaved her beard, underwent electrolysis, and married her man.

But, who do you suppose “they” are that the movie’s bearded lady is singing about? Of course, she is singing about us, the bigots of her time to be sure, but those are pretty much exactly like the bigots of our time who may accept the bearded lady as a lady but never as a transgender man.

The narrative of The Greatest Showman is familiar, but the narrative is wrong. They insist there is this creative and wonderful minority that is being kept down by the haters because of who they are. There is even a scene where these haters beat up the freaks from Barnum’s show. The protestors also burn down his theater because, of course, bigots are always violent.

In a very obvious maneuver, the movie highlights a romance between a rich young white man and the black girl who swings on the trapeze. This is meant to show us that trans and blacks are the same and that opponents of the trans ideology are also racist. This is the common and phony trope where the sexual left piggybacks on the legitimate historical complaints of black Americans.

I loved this movie, that is what a clever piece of propaganda can accomplish, but I also saw through it and two things occurred to me as I watched.

First, the narrative that those who are different, that LGBTs are a powerless minority is completely and utterly false. It is an old narrative that might have been true at one point but certainly not even close to being true today. After all, this is a teeny tiny group that turned nearly the entire political and judicial establishment their way, not to mention the military and most every other institution except the few benighted holdouts like the Catholic Church. Everyone knows the sexual left holds the whip hand in America. We do not control the movie business; they do. We do not control the mainstream media; they do. We do not control the academy; they do. We do not control the local school board; they do. We do not control social media; they do. They even control the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association.

We live in a time when the bosses at JP Morgan Chase actually ask employees if they are gay or allies of gays. I spoke to Christian employees at JP Morgan who were scared not to answer this question. If they didn’t answer, they wondered if they would be punished or sent to reeducation seminars.

The anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign, designated a hate-group by the American Family Association, issues a report each year that ranks big businesses on their gay friendliness. Pretty much every major company across all sectors have bent to their wishes and now score highly in the rankings. You can be sure, if a company did not score highly, massive pressure would be brought to bear. Boycotts, threats, shame.

We live in a time when young and faithful Christians who want to work in counseling are blocked from academic programs if they do not explicitly accept the LGBT ideology. All across corporate America, Christians are afraid to let their co-workers know they are Christian for fear of persecution. Hang an image of Jesus Christ in your cubicle at a major corporation and at the least you very well could be hassled: “You are a Christian? Do you hate gays? And blacks?” If you are a manager and do that, they’d force you to apostatize under charges that you may be a discriminating bigot. Pastors are being drummed out of the military for being Christian.

And so, my second thought is this, and it ought to be a thrilling thing: We are the freaks. Faithful Christians are the freaks, not the LGBTs. Sure, we have representation in Congress and the state houses around the country, but this is not where the power to control culture lies, not even close. It lies in being able to make a hugely expensive movie like The Greatest Showman that carries your message to the masses. It lies in being able to indoctrinate young people in schools and at universities. It lies in being able to use the courts to enforce your wishes. That is them, not us. We are the freaks.

We have heard that properly understood we are counter-cultural. Fine, but that is not nearly enough. That presumes a kind of respected status, that we may have merely something different on offer. But we have moved far beyond that. We are the freaks.

A friend of mine puts it well in another pop culture context. In Star Wars, we are the rebels. They are the Empire. And the Empire always demands absolute power.

What do freaks and rebels do? The first and perhaps most important thing to do is to recognize who we are. We are the freaks and the rebels, and the elites hate us. Our choices, according to them, are either convert or suffer.

The realization that we are the freaks and the rebels ought to be gloriously liberating. If the New York Times did not hate us, we would not be doing our jobs. And so, we do not have to play by their rules. We are liberated to subvert the existing order. How? Throw sand in their gears, offend them, refuse to play by the Queensberry Rules, or Robert’s Rules. Whatever. But know this: no one is absolved. No one may refuse to accept the situation. You are the freaks.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a scene from The Greatest Showman (2017) featuring the bearded lady played by Keala Settle.


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