For the first time since the gay rights movement began, to borrow a phrase from the last Star Trek movie, we live in an era where “the frontier is pushing back.”
When were LGBTQ rights under siege like this before? During the AIDS crisis, when anyone who was gay was considered a pariah and likely not only carrying, but spreading HIV? When Harvey Milk was assassinated along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone? When people like Anita Bryant commanded more respect than the community she publicly disparaged? It’s true, we had fewer rights then. But now we have them, and they’re under attack as never before.
Things are arguably worse now than they ever have been, if you look at the license provided to hate LGBTQ people that’s been granted out of the White House — the same White House that referred to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “good people.” We are being shamed, judged and pushed back as never before, because it’s been given official cover by the heads of our own government. They endorse transparent laws to protect the nation’s bathrooms and supposedly protect “religious freedoms” which in practice do nothing more than sanction bigotry.
There is a difference between then and now: We’re no longer a few outraged drag queens in a skirmish with local law enforcement outside the Stonewall Inn. We are millions. And we are angry.
And the idea that this America the Trump administration seeks to make a reality is not our America. No matter how they try to dismiss their misogyny, racism, trans-and-homophobia (as well as people with physical disabilities), we will take this weekend to loudly and proudly counter their hate with a message of love and inclusivity.
A few weeks ago, lesbian country singer Chely Wright addressed a crowd of supporters at Stonewall to talk about the Supreme Court’s decision to side with a baker in not serving LGBTQ customers. Her tone was spot-on, and her words cut with the power of truth.
Wright began by saying that straight allies and gay folk alike would often pat her on the back, saying that she made a great public ambassador for equality, “because you’re so calm, so eloquent and so sweet. Or more frequently, they’ll say this: Chely, people are more willing to hear you out as you make your case for equality because you’re so nice; you’re not angry like so many others seem to be in the LGBT community.”
“Well,” she said, her voice quavering, “I guess that all comes to a screeching halt tonight, because I’m so fucking angry right now, I can’t see straight. We have a sitting president who, as of today, is playing footsie with the notion of pardoning himself of his crimes. Children are being ripped from the arms of their parents and no one knows or seems to care where those children are.”
Then Wright got right to the point:
“Today,” she fumed, “the United States Supreme Court decision about a cake maker and his “religious freedom” will serve as a roadmap and instruction manual for every bigot in America to discriminate, What kind of Handmaid’s Tale horseshit is going on in this country?”
Hate Doubles Down
She’s right. A hardware store in Tennesse posted the sign at the top of this article. People quit a gym in Indianapolis after it canceled a Pride workout.
Crossfit Infiltrate member Ryan Nix said that his plan for a special Pride Month workout was cancelled by e-mail. The general manager, Brandon Lowe, told Nix that the gym was dedicated to “total health,” and that Pride keeps people from seeing themselves “as God truly defines them to be.”
In less than a week, the controversy blew up to a media event, with fuel to the fire being added by Russell Berger, whose Twitter profile claimed he was CrossFit’s “chief knowledge officer.” Berger then posted a series of tweets supporting the Indiana gym’s decision to shut down the pride workout.
“As someone who personally believes celebrating “Pride” is a sin,” he tweeted, “I’d like to personally encourage (the local affiliate) for standing by their convictions and refusing to host an Indy Pride workout. The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.”
Public outcry got Berger fired within the week. Corporate Crossfit disavowed him and stated categorically it’s no safe harbor for homophobes.
The message: Silence loses, and calling out bigotry remains a potent weapon.
Love Trumps Hate
Not all the news is bad this Pride season.
Pro-LGBTQ Democrats hoping to regain Congress got a boost in the most recent primary results from several key states, especially in California and New Jersey. Democrats will now have candidates on the ballot for seven Congressional seats now in Republican control. Theree, incumbent targets include Dana Rohrabacher, who recently stated that homeowners should have the right not to sell to gays.
In addition, the state’s trend toward blue will likely help former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom in his bid to become Califoria governor. It was Newsom who directed the city to allow same-sex marriage in 2004, and will be taking on Republican John Cox, who has equated homosexuality with bestiality — although he has since recanted.
LGBTQ candidates did well elsewhere, too. Democrat Ricardo Lara will square off against Republican turned independent Steve Poizner, where the winner will become California’s Insurance Commissioner. Shoud he win, Lara would be the first openly gay statewide official in the history of the state.
In deeply Red Alabama, Democrat and former marine Neil Rafferty will face a runoff election in his attempt to secure an Alabama state representative seat. Rafferty is also gay, and is vying to replace the retired lesbian Patricia Todd.
Perhaps the best news comes from Iowa, where Zach Wahls won the Democratic nomination for a state senate seat. Wahls, 26, became something of an internet sensation after addressing Iowa lawmakers about his two lesbian mothers in a plea for equality. He also co-founded Scouts for Equality, a group that sought an end to the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay scouts and leaders.
So, is it a Happy Pride this year? Sure, we’re joyous to be arm-in-arm and flaunting our fabulousness, as always. And when we show up, loud, proud and in solidarity, we can move mountains.
And that means show presidents their way out of the Oval Office, too.
Last modified: July 5, 2018