In the town of Kingwood, Texas, a suburb of Houston considered to lean “conservative,” about 50 people gathered on April 1 to stand in solidarity with a family that was the victim of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.
The Montoya family, who moved into the area last year, were physically assaulted and had their home vandalized after Luisa Montoya hung a Pride flag outside her home to show support for her two transgender children. Even in unhospitable conditions, the Kingwood rally shows that public attitudes toward LGBTQ people — and more importantly, public willingness to fight for LGBTQ rights — is growing.
Montoya family targeted in vicious hate crime
The bullying began in October 2022, when Luisa Montoya first hung a Pride flag outside her home. She has one non-binary child and one trans son and wanted to show them support. Anti-LGBTQ attacks began as harassment, including ringing the family’s doorbell at all hours of the night and toilet papering their home. But things soon escalated. In March, someone threw a large object through their window. When Montoya’s 17-year-old non-binary child ran outside to see who was responsible, they were surrounded by a group of boys who called them homophobic slurs and violently attacked them with their bikes. Montoya was also assaulted outside her house, catching the attacks on video.
A neighbor and Montoya’s youngest child immediately called the police, but the police officer who arrived showed no sympathy, and as of April there have yet to be any charges filed. According to Montoya, she knows who the attackers are and they “are part of a certain school, a certain golf club where no one can touch them.”
The refusal of the police to act has meant that in one week alone, there were five incidents: a broken window, shouting homophobic slurs through a bullhorn, bell ringing incidents and an attempted garage break-in. Montoya says this response from the police has emboldened the attacks against her, and that her accent has played a role in police treatment. Kingwood’s population is far whiter and less Latino than Texas as a whole.
Community declares Kingwood “no place for hate!”
The family called for an April 1 to rally the LGBTQ community and supporters. About 50 people showed up in solidarity. Demonstrators carried signs reading, “Protect LGBT+ kids”, “No place for hate!”, “I was born gay, were you born hateful?” and “We’re not going anywhere.”
Many speakers pushed back against right-wing lies and fearmongering which demonized LGBTQ people as “harmful to children,” and pointed out that in fact, it is the far right in Texas who are harming youth.
Ethan Ganz, a trans activist, spoke about their trip to the Texas State Capitol where thousands rallied and registered against anti-LGBTQ legislation:
[Trans people] have always been here. They want to say we’re a new fad, but we’re not. We have been here since the beginning of… documents of human gender. There’s a reason why they’re banning books. They just don’t want you to know your history. But they can’t stop us. They’re taking the deepest breath of a dying animal. They’re outnumbered. They’re out of touch and they don’t have the power they think they do because all we have to do is come together and we will show them who has the power. The power is with us, we just have to stand up and take it!
Near the end of the protest, one of the Montoya children shared just how important it was for them to see so many people show up. “People bullied me, and it felt like we always had to move because of me,” they shared. “I felt that there was no one out there, that it was just my family against the whole world, so I just want to thank everyone for coming out. It means a lot.”
The protest ended with the crowd hoisting Pride flags and chanting, “Trans rights are human rights!” Drivers who were passing by were overwhelmingly supportive and honked in a show of solidarity.
While the backlash from the far right backlash against trans rights is intense, it is the work of an extremely outnumbered political minority that shares little popular support outside the halls of power. Demonstrations like the Kingwood rally show that the fight for equality is growing and spreading. It is not just “progressive” areas, it is all across the state and the country. Wherever there is LGBTQ existence, there will always be resistance!