As has happened many times before from decade to decade, right-wing bigots are mobilizing a broad-based attack on LGBTQ workers and their progressive allies. As has happened before also, the LGBTQ movement has fought back with million-fold unity against anti-LGBTQ hatred, linking that struggle with struggles against racism, sexism and police brutality. Through militant action, culminating in the historic Stonewall rebellion in New York City in 1969 and the Black Cat uprising in Los Angeles 1967, the exploding movement reached the hearts and minds of millions of workers — to the point where now over 70% of the people express support for marriage equality and equal justice!
When the tragic and deadly AIDS epidemic swept through society in the 1980s, the U.S. ruling elite remained silent while right-wing hate mongers unleashed a wave of homophobia and racism against poor and oppressed peoples. The response from the affected communities was strong and defiant. Militant actions took place throughout the country. Collective care centers were founded and run by progressive health care providers and thousands of volunteers to provide care — health services, food programs, shelter — for those infected by the deadly virus. This took place all across the United States, in cities small and large. The government was forced to support those efforts.
As is true in all gains made by the struggles for social and economic justice, the outcomes can be clearly seen as a result of mass movements. This is true in all arenas of working-class struggle — from trade unions, to the movement for Black lives, to the fight for equality for all oppressed sectors including women and LGBTQ communities. Right-wing militias dressed in combat gear, such as the Proud Boys fascist movement, have been marching on gatherings of transgender people, threatening transgender performers and their supporters, families and friends with violence and terror. Right wingers are using “religious” grounds to discriminate against same-gender marriages, such as policies to provide wedding cakes for heterosexual couples only. The reactionary Supreme Court seems poised to agree.
Violent reactionaries continue to spread their poisonous ideology online. After an ultra-right gunman killed five people at Club Q in Colorado Springs, one person posted on Gab, a platform used by far-right groups: “I love waking up to such good news!” Threats of violence are also appearing in mainstream sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Recently, Boston Children’s Hospital and other hospitals providing care to transgender children have been viciously attacked. The hospitals are reporting numerous bomb threats.
Dozens of anti-LGBTQ measures are pending in several states, targeting hospitals, health care providers, libraries and other organizations that provide services to LGBTQ people. Efforts to label LGBTQ people, especially teachers, as pedophiles and “groomers” of vulnerable children are flooding the web. In reality, statistic show that most cases of child abuse do not occur in school. More cases and actual scandals over the years show that abuse occurs elsewhere, where members of church hierarchies, priests and pastors, are often caught and charged with criminal abuse. Sadly, abuse often occurs in homes of family members.
In response to this tidal wave of hatred and threats, have LGBTQ workers run to hide, gone back in the closet, fearing for their lives? NO! Survivors of the Club Q terrorist attack have bravely spoken out to show how the violence and hate ideology are connected to the extreme reaction taking place throughout the capitalist world as means to divide and weaken progressive movements. LGBTQ activists have taken to the streets to defend their organizations and community gathering spots, waving signs and Pride flags, facing down the Proud Boys and their bigoted allies.
Attempts to silence the people around these and other issues will fail. The movements for voting rights, Black lives, abortion, marriage equality and other just issues will continue to grow. It’s too late for the capitalists to use intimidation to shut down protest. The victories brought about through mass mobilizations will continue to expand as the ruling elite sink deeper into chaos and violence. In just a few decades, without any allies in the government, LGBTQ people won over the hearts and minds of millions of workers. The trend will continue throughout all the struggles ahead.