It’s time for bold political statements, not fashion statements

LGBTQ Pride Month is around the corner. Millions of people are carefully choosing their outfits. Fabulous floats are being festooned with fierceness and flair.

I hate to throw cold water on the toasty Summer festivals, but considering the Supreme Court’s impending abortion ruling, this is a time for political statements, not fashion statements. It doesn’t feel right to celebrate sexual freedom when women are on the verge of losing their reproductive freedom.

It is imperative that LGBTQ Pride committees junk their plans and recalibrate to transform Pride festivities into political events protesting the overturn of Roe. V. Wade. The death of Roe is expected in June or July, which conveniently coincides with massive Pride rallies across the world. These are planned, built-in festivals that already draw hundreds of thousands, even millions of people.

Given their enormous size, these marches could provide some of the summer’s most defining and important moments demonstrating against the abortion ban. It’s time we prove that we are the allies that we hope others will be in our existential fight for freedom.

Pride events have frequently been criticized, by some activists, for becoming too corporate. This is a unique moment to leverage this to our advantage. We can use the opportunity to pressure Big Business into publicly disavowing the court’s ruling and standing in favor of reproductive choice. If they are silent or unsupportive, they shouldn’t be marketing their wares to our community. Let’s give them an option: Boldly support liberty and be wildly cheered on parade routes, or meekly shrink from speaking out and get jeered.

We are now entering a new world where corporations will have to earn brand loyalty by embracing the values they purport to live by. The Supreme Court infamously ruled that corporations are people, and since they legally are, they must act like brave people and speak out against evil. In 2022, if corporations are cowardly and hide, they should not be allowed at Pride. LGBTQ people are human beings that deserve to be fully supported, not simply customers to be separated from our money.

There are those who might retort that abortion isn’t an LGBTQ issue. The facts say otherwise. Our would-be oppressors are religious zealots who don’t believe in the right to privacy. They are arrogant extremists who imagine they have a God-given mission to impose their fundamentalist religion and control our bodies. These nuts demand the ability to force women to bear children and they also believe they can prevent LGBTQ people from having sex or getting married.

“None of us are safe from the extreme anti-women and anti-L.G.B.T.Q. ideology that now dominates this court,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of GLAAD, said in a statement.

The flawed and backward logic behind Alito’s leaked abortion opinion doesn’t bode well for our future. He and his cohorts on the Supreme Court read the United States Constitution like they read the Bible. It’s a dead document, frozen in time, that only protected those in power at a time when inequality was rampant.

This arguably illegitimate cabal, installed through Sen. Mitch McConnell’s bad faith and chicanery, rejects contemporary rulings that expand rights because they are not considered “deeply rooted in history.” Of course, what is deeply rooted in history is slavery and Jim Crow, women treated as second class citizens and LGBTQ people considered criminals and pariahs undeserving of legal protections.  

According to the New York Times:

Justice Alito, for his part, has made no secret of his hostility to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision on same-sex marriage. In 2020, when the court turned down an appeal from a county clerk who had been sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, he joined a statement written by Justice Clarence Thomas that called the decision at odds with the Constitution.

“In Obergefell v. Hodges,” the statement said, “the court read a right to same-sex marriage into the 14th Amendment, even though that right is found nowhere in the text.”

On top of the Supreme Court’s imminent threat, the LGBTQ community is under fierce and unrelenting legislative attacks. We are battling an election year frenzy, where lawmakers have already filed a record 238 anti-LGBTQ bills. To support these efforts, the Religious Right has taken off the gloves and trotted out the discredited canard that LGBTQ people are a threat to children. This has led to “Don’t Say Gay” laws, as well as verbal abuse from rabid bigots that call us “groomers”.

Given the high stakes, it seems inappropriate, even obscene, to host Pride events like it’s any other year. To defeat the fascists trying to overthrow democracy and instill a theocracy, we need strong allies. Pride is a perfect opportunity to stand with women’s groups to show our unwavering support. Our events are nationwide and worldwide, which offer extraordinary reach and impact.     

If our community misses this opportunity and chooses to vapidly celebrate now, we will suffer immeasurably later. If sodomy laws are reinstated, with modern surveillance and the right wing’s quest for vengeance, don’t be surprised if these laws are enforced in Q-Anon states. Do you think Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Lauren Boebert or Gov. Ron DeSantis care if law enforcement kicks down your door to prove you are having illicit sex with your partner?

On April 1 Boebert Tweeted:

“We require people to be 21 to purchase alcohol beverages, and 21 to purchase tobacco products. Why is it so unreasonable to require people to reach a certain level of maturity before making life-altering decisions about their sexuality and identity?”

Last week, five Republican Senators demanded that the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board warn parents about any LGBTQ content. Rolling Stone reports:

Sens. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) all signed the letter dated May 4, which pushes for the PGMA’s rating system to incorporate warnings for LGBTQ content before lamenting how one Disney executive was recently quoted as saying she supports having “many, many many LGBTQIA+ characters in our stories.”

“To the detriment of children, gender dysphoria has become sensationalized in the popular media and television with radical activists and entertainment companies,” the letter reads. “This radical and sexual sensation not only harms children, but also destabilizes and damages parental rights.”

The goal, of course, is to turn back the clock and make LGBTQ people into something dirty and unmentionable that should only be whispered in closets. We won our rights through visibility, so they want to use smear campaigns to render us invisible. Their efforts are modeled on Russia’s homophobic and oppressive gay propaganda law. Those of us watching Russia crack down on the rights of all its citizens can see where such dangerous and depraved efforts to silence citizens ultimately leads.  

This is a year to celebrate pride with protest in the spirit of the great Stonewall uprising. We can’t be divided by petty and parochial concerns. Only by standing in solidarity with our friends can we achieve ultimate victory. There will be plenty of time to party in the future, but first we must organize to win the fight of our lives. Pride 2022 can’t be just dancing to “It’s Raining Men”, while a massive storm gathers on the horizon.  

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