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This Pride, LGBTQ Allies Need to Do More Than Just Wave Rainbow Flags

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12.06.2022

“Happy Pride” feels a little ironic this year.

Because along with our parties and parades, the new wave of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ laws in Republican-led states across the country has been horrifying. To many, it seems to have to come out of nowhere, and it is more vicious, mean, and extreme than anything we’ve seen in years: banning hormone therapy for trans kids (as Arkansas, Florida, and Texas have done), banning any talk about sexuality or gender (including one’s own) in schools, banning books from school libraries, calling every liberal a “groomer,” and openly stating that once abortion rights fall, same-sex marriage is next.

It is terrifying for every queer person, including me, and even more so for every trans person.

Jay Brown, a Senior Vice President at the Human Rights Campaign, said that as a trans man, he “shares the fear and despair” that many are feeling right now. “At the essence, these laws are trying to make sure no trans person exists: providing no support for us in our early lives, making medically necessary healthcare a felony, prohibiting even mental healthcare. It is hard to find the words for how damaging these laws and policies are.”

So how can LGBTQ people, activists, and allies fight back?

The answers are simple, but not easy. The LGBTQ activists I spoke with were optimistic, in some ways: they’ve seen the Christian Right and the Republican Party run this playbook before, and they’ve beaten it before. But, to put it bluntly, it’s going to take a lot more people giving a shit about this war on queer people, and voting, speaking out, and getting their friends to do the same, than we’ve seen so far.

In other words, it’s going to be up to you. So consider these your marching orders.

1. Vote out the bigots

First, it’s obvious that this wave of attacks is largely about pandering to the Republican party’s base of religious fundamentalists (who comprise over half of the party) and angry, white populists who are scared and resentful of any change from how things used to be.

As Brown put it, “Of course, our opponents are using these tactics in advance of the midterms in the hope they can turn out their extremist base. But a lot of this is also rooted in our success. We are more visible and more open about who we are. As a trans person, I see that in a powerful way…. We are part of folks’ communities, workplaces, churches, and schools. This is a reaction to that reality.”

The way the campaign is unfolding reflects that. In fact, as new as this wave of laws may seem, a lot of the rhetoric is actually quite old.

As far back as Anita Bryant in the 1970s and anti-gay paranoia of the 1950s and 60s, conservatives attacked gay people the same way they’re attacking trans people and “groomers” today. We’re child molesters, they said. We’re trying to “recruit” your kids. (LGBTQ icon Harvey Milk turned that charge on its head, telling gay people in 1977 that he wanted to recruit them to be activists for their civil rights.) We’re mentally ill. And, for good measure, we go against God’s plan.

“They’re saying the quiet part out loud,” said Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s state legislative director. “They’re not pretending........

© The Daily Beast


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