Anti-LGBTQ terror, corporate hypocrites, militant workers


Several years ago, corporate America began to celebrate LGBTQ Pride month with rainbow-patterned merchandise and participation in parades. Ryan Cooper, writing in The American Prospect, notes, “It left a bad taste in the mouth of many LGBTQ folks. Here was a tradition founded by downtrodden activists who struggled for decades for dignity and respect, when it was quite dangerous to be openly gay or trans. Now it was being colonized by money-grubbing corporations trying to make an easy buck through a gesture at allyship.”

Today, a frenzied and increasingly fascist right wing is ruthlessly attacking corporations who have Pride displays, products and advertising. Companies like Target, Walmart and Cracker Barrel are now dealing with boycotts, bomb threats and vandalism. Their employees are being attacked. Bud Light had a small sponsorship deal with trans influencer and actress Dylan Mulvaney. After an avalanche of rage, parent company Anheuser Busch released what Vox writer Emily Stewart called a “quite tepid statement.” They didn’t bother to reach out to a terrorized Mulvaney, who claims she didn’t leave her house for months.

The right-wing intimidation has been somewhat successful, but it’s too early to tell. Still, the stakes are high.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s leading LGBTQ-advocacy group, has declared a state of emergency for the first time in its 43-year history. HRC cites “a steady increase in anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures over the last several years — from 115 bills introduced in 2015 to more than 500 in 2023. This year, more than 75 bills have been signed into law — more than doubling last year’s number.”

A new report says there have been more than 350 anti-LGBTQ “hate and extremism incidents” in the United States from June 2022 through April 2023. There were 305 occurrences of harassment, 40 episodes of vandalism and 11 assaults. Undoubtedly, this is an undercount since many people don’t report their experiences. The incidents were documented across 46 states and the District of Columbia. They also included the mass murder at Club Q, the LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs. 

The report was a joint effort by the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, a gay advocacy group. The largest number of incidents targeted drag events and performers. Other common targets were schools and educators, health care facilities and providers, and government buildings and officials.

Almost half of the anti-LBGTQ events involved people associated with far-right groups like the Proud Boys or neo-Nazi organizations. There was important overlap with other forms of bigotry. Antisemitism was a factor in 128 incidents, while racism played a role in some 30 occurrences.

Sarah Moore, an analyst of anti-LGBTQ extremism for both the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD, told The New York Times she thought it was significant that half of the incidents weren’t connected to any far-right group. She says that indicates how much anti-LGBTQ sentiment is “being mainstreamed in society and being picked up on by local church groups, local parents’ rights groups, whatever might be the local grass-roots movement for the Republican Party.”

The most commonly cited trope in the incidents involved accusations of pedophilia and “grooming” by transgender people. These slurs have been used against gays for decades.

Today, politicians and figures in right-wing media are regularly spreading these accusations without any facts or evidence.

Denver’s Channel 9 reported that the Colorado Republican Party sent an email to supporters which included an image where the words “Pride Month” combine into “demon” and they accused LGBTQ people and Democrats of trying to normalize pedophilia.

On June 30, The Washington Post reported that “many prominent Republicans have expressed criticism of [Pride month] celebrations and in some cases resurfaced opposition to same-sex marriage.”

Meanwhile, Starbucks workers have entered the fray. The coffeehouse company proudly claims to support LGBTQ rights. However, Starbucks Workers United (SBU) says Pride flags and decorations have been taken down at many stores around the country. In June, they conducted rolling one-day strikes to protest. 

More than 300 stores are unionized. Workers face issues such as short staffing, unpredictable schedules, low wages and unaffordable healthcare. Trans employees were told their gender-affirming care would be withheld if they unionized.

Recently, Starbucks lost 16 of 17 cases decided by the National Labor Relations Board. The violations included worker intimidation, discriminatory rules and unlawful discipline and termination of union organizers.

If we want to beat the fascist bullies, we need fighting unions like SBU.

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.


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