Blood and Glitter: Gay Pride in 2023

This post tackles some heavy subjects regarding how the LGBT community is treated. Please take care of yourself while reading.

Let’s talk about pride. The month of June is usually a time of celebration for members of the LGBT community, with parades, parties, and plenty of merchandise thanks to rainbow capitalism. But in 2023, when trans identities are under attack, drag Queens are banned from performing, and books about queerness aren’t making it to the shelves, it doesn’t seem like the right time to celebrate.

A queer history lesson

Did you know that gay pride originally started as a protest? The Stonewall Riots began when a trans woman threw the first brick at police attempting to arrest members of the gay community at a popular club, the Stonewall Inn. This event set off a chain reaction which led to activists calling for equal rights and an end to anti-gay laws. Perhaps we need to set aside our pride and instead bring back our wrath.

Now, we’re seeing those kind of laws trying to return thanks to politicians like Ron DeSantis banning healthcare for transgender youths. The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade and anti-abortion laws are deeply connected to the outcry over transgender athletes and restrictions on teaching about queerness (in addition to racial history). They focus on bodily autonomy, womens’ rights, and reinforcing societal gender norms that rely on traditional views concerning marriage. Join me, if you will, on connecting the dots.

(How I feel making the connections between gay rights, bodily autonomy, the right to privacy, womens’ rights, and systemic racism.)

What is a woman?

In attempts to define what a woman is, many have inadvertently left out people with disabilities or health issues while purposely excluding transgender individuals.

Here’s a definition I formulated: A woman is an adult human whose body is organized around two related functions: 1) the production, storage, and delivery of eggs and 2) the gestation of another human being. A man, in a similar way, is an adult human whose body is organized around the production, storage, and delivery of sperm.

Alan Shlemon on Stand to Reason

This Christian-based definition claims to include women who have had a hysterectomy but does not acknowledge infertility; in fact, the entire definition relies on the ability to give birth. In short, a woman is someone who can get pregnant and have children: a strict gender role to enforce heterosexuality and procreation. So are women who cannot produce eggs or carry a fetus to term not actually women? Are men who can produce eggs actually women? And what about intersex people who have reproductive organs that do not easily define their gender?

These conservative views also negatively affect people of color. Racism, sexism, and homophobia aren’t new. It hasn’t been long since the Jim Crow laws. Advocates and activists have been fighting for equal rights to people of different genders, races, and sexual orientations for many years. For a few recent years, it looked like the fight was coming to an end with the Marriage Equality Act allowing same-sex couples to get married, receiving the same benefits and protections as opposite-sex couples. Of course, not everyone was happy. Some people claimed same-sex marriage ruined the “sanctity of marriage” (but divorce and infidelity don’t?).

What’s new is the open discrimination by famous author JK Rowling and her army of outspoken TERF followers. Using her influence and money after the success of the Harry Potter series, Rowling has been involved with anti-trans laws in Britain and the US. Her transphobia has encouraged others to profess their own hatred or dislike of trans people, igniting a slew of discrimination policies against them. They’re even trying to take the ‘T’ out of LGBT.

(Thankfully, we have Chuck Tingle and his pro-trans wizard romance series.)

Under the rainbow

While some members of the LGBT community criticize or distrust the commercialization of gay pride during the month of June, others are happy for the representation and to be openly embraced by companies that once shunned them. Brand logos ususlly change to reflect the colors of the rainbow, a common representation of the gay community, and companies offer LGBT-friendly merchandise and events throughout the month. Gay creators and merchants have received commercial success and are often highlighted for better visibility during this time.

Know Your Meme

That is, until now. Until Target had to change or remove their gay pride displays and products after attacks in stores by homophobes. Bud Light has also suffered backlash after promoting a campaign with Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer. We’ve already encountered discourse about “no kink at pride” (which ignores queer history) and fear the presence of cops at pride; now gay people apparently can’t even shop or eat in peace.

Stay with me now as we follow the threads of hate to a common source.

“For the children”

Anti-gay bigots used to call us sodomites, now they call us groomers. They claimed we were evil and sinful, now they deem us inhuman. Some are even calling for our genocide. Just like during the COVID pandemic, malicious misinformation has turned people against each other. Equating gay people with pedophiles is harmful to a community that already has high rates of suicide and deaths from murder or assault.

In trying to “protect the children” with anti-abortion laws, bans on gender-affirming care, and restrictions on education about sexuality or gender, we are failing to protect gay and trans kids as well as kids within queer families. When laws are being introduced to lower the age to work or Republicans block bans on child marriage, how are children kept safe from harm? When mass shootings enter the classroom and school officials are told to inspect students’ genitalia to determine which bathroom they can enter or the sports team they can join, who is looking out for children?

The connection

So how are all of these issues connected? Not only do they distract people from focusing on a single issue (like DeSantis versus Disney), but they all infringe on human rights to equality, bodily autonomy, privacy, and freedom. If a woman cannot have an abortion (while “women” are defined as child-bearers) and gender-affirming care is banned to prevent transitions, then no one has control over their own bodies: instead, individual states do. If athletes are forced to undergo invasive physical examinations and DNA testing to determine if they can compete in sports and bathroom checks are enforced to ensure people are using the “right” bathrooms, then no one has the right to privacy. And if people aren’t able to live as themselves, then they do not have the right to freedom.

I think it’s time to go back to our roots. Instead of Pride Month, let’s embrace Wrath Month. Now, who wants to throw the first brick?

Oh hi there 👋 It’s nice to meet you.

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Published by Niki Fury

I'm a front-end developer by day, blogger by night. I write about fashion, gaming, makeup, and queerness.

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