Anti-LGBTQ violence is nothing new in capitalism, but as rhetoric by the right wing continues to escalate, public attacks on LGBTQ people are becoming even more common. Just two weeks into Pride Month, several incidents have already taken place, including a planned attack on an Idaho event that was narrowly averted.
These attacks show the danger posed by these fascist, white supremacist groups not just to LGBTQ people, but to all oppressed groups and the entire working class. They are a reminder of the importance of rallying together under the principle of “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
An anonymous tip to police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Saturday led to a traffic stop of a U-Haul moving truck in which 31 members of the fascist militia Patriot Front were found suited up in improvised body armor and “prepared to riot,” according to the police chief. They carried shields, iron pipes, and smoke bombs, and were arrested only a short distance from a Pride in the Park event they had planned to attack.
According to police, none of the men arrested were from the area, traveling from as far away as Texas to stage the attack. Other heavily-armed far-right figures held a banner at the edge of the Pride event that said “groomers are not welcome in Idaho” and distributed flyers full of bigoted lies about transgender people.
The accusation against LGBTQ people of being “groomers” and “pedophiles” is not new on the right, but has quickly become its most popular slander against LGBTQ people and their supporters since the fight over Florida’s outrageous “Don’t Say Gay” law earlier this year. Fox News and other far-right media sources have helped amplify this line of attack, merging it with prior fear mongering about trans children supposedly being the victims of “gender ideology” from adult trans people and doctors. This has enabled wide-ranging attacks on trans children’s right to receive gender-affirming healthcare, participate in sports for their gender, and even use bathrooms for their gender.
These attacks are being increasingly coordinated, too, using social media to draw right-wing attention to LGBTQ events as well as encourage harassment of outspoken individuals, especially trans women. The Coeur d’Alene Pride event was one of those targeted, being first highlighted by a former central figure in the fascist group Identity Evropa. A Drag Queen Story Hour at a San Francisco Bay Area library was also attacked by the Proud Boys fascist gang on Saturday, thanks to a similar social media tip.
These fascist groups all participated in the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Another iteration of mass fascist violence was on display on January 6, 2021 as Donald Trump’s supporters attempted to overturn the result of the 2020 election by storming the U.S. Capitol.
Anti-LGBTQ bigotry has become a major part of the far right’s moral outrage propaganda. Several Republican candidates have even called for trans people to be executed as enemies of the state, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently introduced a show segment about Drag Queen Story Hour by referring to the U.S. as “Weimar,” the German republican government that preceded the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 and which the Nazis referred to as having a “degenerate” culture.
The hate-driven murders of trans women have not abated, either: in 2021, an appalling 57 trans people were murdered, the vast majority of them trans women of color, and in 2022 there have been 14 known murders so far.
Despite the sharpening rhetoric and physical attacks, the fascists’ ideas are not popular in the country: for example, seven in 10 U.S. voters support the Equality Act, a federal bill that would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination across a wide swath of US public life.
Still, the impact of their attacks can be felt. For instance, an NBC poll last month found the number of Americans who think society has “gone too far” in accepting trans people has risen by 7% in the last year. Only a militant struggle to organize, educate and agitate the masses of working and oppressed people to unite in trans people’s collective defense is capable of turning back the rising tide of fascist violence.
Fascist groups are not just a danger to LGBTQ people, but to all working and oppressed people: they are white supremacist, misogynist, and nationalist – and their violence is tolerated by the capitalist class because it reinforces their rule.
Democrats and sympathetic politicians won’t save us. Our rights were won in the streets and that’s where they’ll be defended – that’s the true spirit of Stonewall and a queer revolution that has been raging for 53. We must rally our communities in defense of all of its members, because an injury to one truly is an injury to all.