LGBTQ+ Pride Month Blog 2023 – Fighting the Increasing Hate

Even though I did not find Pride items in my local Walmart, I could order them and get them delivered there.

Every June, LGBTQ+ Pride Month is now celebrated worldwide, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion which is often considered the beginning of the modern LGBTQ-rights movement. So much progress has been made in the ensuing decades since 1969 with many more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people being able to live out and proud lives.

There are still many places around the world, particularly in Asia and Africa where LGBTQ people are severely persecuted, and now in the United States there is a mounting of outward hate, violence and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people, often led by political leaders trying to divide Americans against each other for political gain and power.

On May 24, I read this disturbing news piece from Associated Press titled “Target pulls some LGBTQ+ merchandise from stores ahead of June Pride month after threats to workers.” The article begins, “Target is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers.”

One of the cute Pride Month books Walmart is selling

Many other companies (like Walmart) support LGBTQ+Pride month with merchandise.  Walmart is now under this same anti-LGBTQ hateful pressure and it looks like they hopefully will not retreat like Target.

Other sad news I have been recently frequently reading about is the cancellation of various planned events featuring drag queens because of violent threats. In some state legislatures, politicians are attempting to outlaw drag performances while doing nothing to address our national pandemic of thousands of citizens dying due to gun violence.

This news disgusts me and demands a call to action.

First, these hateful bigots who accost store employees over Walmart’s or Target’s merchandise should be arrested for assault. If someone does not like certain merchandise, they don’t need to buy it or they can choose to patronize another store.

Second, LGBTQ people and allies should support WalMart for carrying the Pride merchandise, patronize the store, and thank Walmart employees and managers for carrying this merchandise.

Republicans in the North Carolina legislature are proposing laws to outlaw public drag queen performances

Third, people need to outwardly condemn all forms of anti-queer hate and bigotry. That includes not voting nor supporting any political candidate who backs or supports any of the slew of anti-LGBTQ legislation currently working its way through many state legislatures.

Major corporations also need to take a stand and strongly condemn all forms of LGBTQ+ hate and oppression. You cannot claim to be ally of the LGBTQ community if you either support these hateful political leaders or fail to speak out to condemn anti-LGBTQ oppression. Silence in these matters make you complicit in this nastiness.

The Broad Impact of State Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

This year in my state of North Carolina and several other states across the country, state legislatures are introducing and passing laws that target LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) people. These laws have significant business, community and personal impact, and because of intersectionality, ramifications can be felt far beyond the LGBTQ community.

The vast majority of these laws (link to a list of all these laws) target the transgender community, including prohibiting parents from seeking medical care of their trans children, legislating how doctors can treat trans patients, prohibiting trans teens from participating in sports, and even outlawing drag queens!

Impact on People. Transgender and queer people are now being told by their political leaders that there is something wrong, bad or sick about them. Politicians are declaring that these people are not equal Americans, but instead evil people who are a scourge on society and need to be rooted out. Through their actions, these politicians are telling us transgender people and drag queens harm more people than AK45 assault rifles! This kind of horrible messaging can lead to depression, mental illness and suicide, as well as other citizens targeting them for bullying or even assault and murder.

Impact on the LGBTQ community.  When an entire community is targeted for hateful action by political leaders, it damages the community. It can lead to destructive behavior and mental illness instead of empowering a community to contribute their best to society. It sets up neighbors against each other, causing division and strife in the community.

Economic / business impact. People need to remember the $400 million in lost revenue when North Carolina enacted our anti-transgender anti-gay HB2“ bathroom bill” in 2016. The NBA moved their all-star game out of state and several major companies cancelled or curtailed their financial investments in NC. Over the past few months, I have been told by some company managers and even leaders in one branch of our US military that they are not able to recruit employees or get people to move to states that have these hateful laws out of fear for themselves or their families.

What should we do? Individuals need to show empathy and support for their LGBTQ+ friends and family members impacted by these laws. People need to stop voting for any politician who votes for harmful hateful legislation. And companies and organization need to assure they do not give a single penny to these politicians. Companies absolutely cannot claim to be pro-diversity or LGBTQ supportive and then support such political leaders. It is totally duplicitous. (Read my blog from last April “Companies cannot claim to be LGBTQ+ supportive while contributing to anti-LGBTQ+ legislators”)

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Note: On July 25, I am moderating a panel discussion session titled “The Impact of State LGBTQ Legislation – Policy (Panel)” at the 2023 Raleigh Chamber of Commerce DEI Conference.