After failing to secure a city permit, a group organizing a so-called “Straight Pride” rally held a gathering Aug. 24 outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Modesto, California, holding signs with pro-Trump, anti-abortion, and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Don Grundmann, founder of the National Straight Pride Coalition, had predicted hundreds of attendees, but reports put the number closer to 20. His hateful group was met by counter-protesters chanting “No hate, no fear, Straight Pride is not welcome here!” Max Reed of the Modesto Non-Violent Collective said the protest proved the community “is standing together to reject this group and what they represent.”
Grundmann and his coalition do not limit their bigotry to sexuality. The organization’s stated goal is to defend “heterosexuality,” “Caucasians,” and “Western Civilization,” and to promote American “nationalism.” A careful analysis reveals that the movement’s homophobia, transphobia, white nationalism, and fascism are all intertwined.
Matthew Mason, the gay son of Grundmann’s co-organizer Mylinda Mason, stated, “Don Grundmann is a radical right-wing fascist from the Bay Area who is attempting to use Modesto as a launching ground for his political and cultural campaign of hate.”
When defending his event in front of the Modesto City Council, Grundman boldly proclaimed that “we’re a totally peaceful racist group!” — resulting in laughter from the audience. In the age of Donald Trump, we have regularly seen fascism masked by clownish behavior, but it belies the gravity of our current situation. We live in an age of anti-abortion legislation, anti-LGBTQ legalization, police militarization, concentration camps along our southern border, rapid climate change, and endless warfare abroad. These struggles are all linked, and we must fight them together.
The reinvigorated right-wing movement of the Donald Trump era has coincided with greater visibility of, and greater advocacy for, the transgender community. Reactionaries have used the transgender community, and the greater LGBTQ community as a whole, as a wedge to divide the working class. Marxist transgender advocate Leslie Feinberg once wrote:
“Like racism and all forms of prejudice, bigotry against transgendered people is a deadly carcinogen. We are pitted against each other in order to keep us from seeing each other as allies.” If we are to succeed, we must prevent the division of the working class.
Hate-speech events like the one in Modesto are not isolated incidents but a symptom of a moribund system — capitalism.
The Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 marked a historic moment in the struggle for equality, with the LGBTQ community forging a path forward for all oppressed peoples. Having failed to silence the energized LGBTQ masses by means of legislation, bigots have increasingly used intimidation and violence to hold back the wave of progress. The people stand ready to fight back, as demonstrated in Modesto, where counter-protesters outnumbered the bigots nearly 10-to-one. When they say “Get back!”, we say “Fight back!”