On July 10, in 103-degree heat, 150 people showed up at a downtown Houston gay bar to protect a drag show from a group of neo-Nazis and self-described “Christian fascists.” Despite attempts to bring together right-wing reactionaries from across the state, only 18 fascists showed up. Houston’s queer community and their allies made it clear that fascism and hate are not welcome.
Nazi demonstration part of a larger right-wing assault on LGBTQ community
The fascists assembled across the street from Hamburger Mary’s, a downtown drag-themed restaurant. Deceptively named “Protect Texas Kids,” the group of Nazis and other bigots is led by Kelly Neidert, who openly describes herself as a “Christian fascist” and has tweeted that authorities should start “rounding up” people who participate in Pride celebrations. The group opposes healthcare for transgender youth and harasses those who provide such vital healthcare services.
This is part of a larger right-wing movement to criminalize LGBTQ people and their families across the state of Texas. Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order asking the Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct surveillance on families with trans children and investigate them for child abuse. A Texas GOP lawmaker has also introduced a bill that would bar children from attending shows where drag queens perform.
Right-wing legislators and governors are using an old tactic of propagating lies about LGBTQ people, which has led to a coordinated series of violent attacks on LGBTQ people and events. “Protect Texas Kids” has mostly relegated their activity to Dallas, but they are attempting to spread their hateful agenda to Houston by attacking drag shows as a stepping stone.
Houston’s queer community fights back
Spotted among the group of vastly outnumbered fascists were several people who were proudly sporting Nazi regalia. Behind the protection of police stood people who wore swastikas around their necks and Nazi S.S. bolts on their hats, shouting anti-gay slurs at counter-protesters across the street.
Pro-LGBTQ counter-demonstrators, stretching from one end of the street to the other, were not intimidated. Using bullhorns and speakers that played loud dance music, they drowned out the anti-gay slurs and hate speech. They carried signs that read, “These queers bash back,” “Pride means fight back,” “Drag queens are welcome! Bigots sashay away” and “Smash LGBTQ+ oppression.”
Local activist and LGBTQ ally Perla Kohler spoke to Liberation News about the need for solidarity with oppressed communities whenever and wherever they are under attack.
“We have to show solidarity,” said Kohler. “We have realized that these groups that come out here that are filled with such ignorance and such hatred, they come and they continue to torment, humiliate and harass people just for living. They are f—ing nobody and they will continue to be nobody because we will not tolerate them. They are not welcome here. We will protect our queens!”
At one point, a handful of counter-protesters moved into the street in order to confront the Nazis. They chanted, “When drag queens are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!,” “Stop the hate, stop the fear. Everyone is welcome here,” “Nazis go home!” and “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going away!” Eventually, the more militant members of the crowd were moved back by police where they were barricaded onto the sidewalk.
The competing protests came to an end around 3 p.m. when the fascists, completely drowned out and unable to affect the show or even be heard, decided to pack it up and call it a day. Those who came out to defend the queer community were then welcomed into the restaurant, where they enjoyed refreshments and cool air after a long day of opposing fascist bigots. The day’s events demonstrated that only a militant, uncompromising resistance – one that isn’t afraid to stand toe-to-toe with fascists wherever they appear – can beat back the unrelenting assault on oppressed communities.