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In May, I prophesized about the upcoming threat this year to the LGBTQ+ community, with the anticipated overturning of Roe v. Wade meaning gay marriage is next, and about the rush by state legislatures to pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws particularly related to transgender youth.
In April, I wrote about the attitude of Republican voters toward candidates who were homophobic in a poll conducted by Politico and Morning Consult that showed a small minority of Republicans, only 25 percent, said it was a major problem if a candidate makes homophobic statements.
And later that month, I wrote about the diabolical duo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and their war against children, attacking trans kids and blocking LGBTQ-related conversations in the classroom. “This is all so blatantly heartbreaking, discriminatory, illegal, and criminal,” I wrote. “We should have known that DeSantis would dangerously invoke children in passing legislation using the bigoted ways straight out of the Trump playbook.”
Words and actions have consequences, and all these red flags above, put together, are a warning sign for our community. Now, during a month when we celebrate our community, the diabolicalness has erupted and spilled over to domestic terrorist groups. We should not be surprised, and the fact that children have come under attack again by these disgusting groups is despicable.
Over the weekend, at the San Lorenzo Library in a suburb of San Francisco, a group of Proud Boys stormed a room where a drag queen reading hour for children was taking place and screamed homophobic and transphobic slurs.
"They said 'Who brought the [T word]? It's a groomer. It's a pedophile. Why do you bring your kids to this event?'" drag queen Panda Dulce, who was hosting the reading to help celebrate Pride Month, told San Francisco TV station KGO.
We are increasingly coming under assault, and it hit close to home here at The Advocate. My wonderful colleague and his husband were called “pedophiles” by a man who saw them on an Amtrak train with their children in April. This hate is happening more than we are most likely aware of, and it’s dramatically ticked up during Pride Month.
Horrifically, last weekend in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, 31 members of Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot. In broad daylight, these hooligans packed themselves into a U-Haul, with their faces covered by white masks. (Presumably, these are the new, modern-day white hoods.) A perceptive witness saw something and said something, alerting the police, and the intended violence at the Pride event was thwarted. Chief Lee White of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department told reporters that the police found shields, shin guards, and other riot gear in the vehicle, including at least one smoke grenade.
It’s all coming to a head, and unfortunately, this terror directed toward our community is most likely not going to abate. In fact, and not to scare anyone, the attempts to disrupt a Pride event and a drag reading hour by these racist, homophobic, and transphobic bigots are likely to spawn more violent attempts, particularly if they’re fueled by Republican candidates on the campaign trail demonizing the LGBTQ+ community.
Just like the insurrectionists who took their cues to attack the U.S. Capitol from Donald Trump and other government officials who pushed the big lie of a fraudulent election, these groups are taking their cues from politicians who have made the LGBTQ+ community the cultural dividing issue of the 2022 midterm races. Dangerous rhetoric usually leads to dangerous acts.
For some insight into these far-right, neofascist organizations that promote and engage in political violence in the United States, I reached out to someone who has firsthand experience analyzing these groups and designating them as the biggest threat to American safety. Miles Taylor was the chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security for two years. He is one of the foremost security experts in the country, especially when it comes to domestic terrorism.
Taylor might be most famous for writing a 2018 New York Times op-ed under the pen name "Anonymous" that was headlined, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" and drew widespread attention for its criticism of Donald Trump.
Last month, Taylor announced he was leaving the Republican Party over what he claimed was its espousal of great replacement theory rhetoric — the theory that there is a conspiracy to supplant the white population with people of color — in the wake of the Buffalo mass shooting.
I asked Taylor why he thought these far-right, racist groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Front are starting to target the LGBTQ+ community.
“We are seeing the culture wars return with a vengeance,” Taylor tells The Advocate. “Trumpism has made extremists feel empowered — socially empowered and politically empowered — to advance their regressive worldviews. Many of these violent racial supremacy groups also happen to be, unsurprisingly, anti-LGBTQ and are bringing their militant behavior into that realm. It’s alarming. And it’s not just a political concern — it’s a serious public safety threat.”
Did Taylor think these recent threats against our community will continue past Pride Month, since far-right Republican candidates are campaigning for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation?
“These threats are not an aberration,” Taylor says. “They are part of a trend — a trend in our politics from vitriolic discourse toward political intimidation and violence, and the LGBTQ community is now in the crosshairs of far-right extremists.”
This all is so frightening to many of us. I wanted to know from Taylor what LGBTQ+ people, particularly those planning Pride events or drag happy hours, or even LGBTQ+ bars can do to help protect themselves from these threats.
“It sounds trite, but the old adage 'If you see something, say something,' saves lives,” Taylor advises. “When I was in government, we did a review of international terrorist plots that had been disrupted in the United States and found that for a majority of them, the plot was detected in part because of someone in the community who raised a concern. The same applies to domestic terrorism threats today — community members are a crucial 'trip wire' to help law enforcement spot threats early. That’s what happened in Idaho, and it likely saved lives.”
John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.