June is Pride Month. In my family, we take folding chairs and drinks to the sidewalk to watch the parade, and we cheer the participants as they go by. The parade gets longer every year. Over the years, it has also gotten more and more mainstream, with local businesses, politicians, schools, churches and synagogues joining the clubs, gay bars and civil liberties organizations.

I began attending the parade in 2002, when there were exactly 8 entries, the parade took 15 minutes, and most gay folks were still reluctant to come out of the closet. The speed of social change on issues of sexual orientation has been one of the bright spots in America’s quest for civic equality.

I suppose we should have expected the current, fierce backlash, but–like the backlash  to women’s rights explored in my recent book–it seems so unaware, so awkwardly out of place in a society that has moved on. Polling continues to confirm that these angry Christian “warriors” are a distinct minority, but thanks to the GOP’s success in electing radical right-wingers to state legislatures, anti-gay laws continue to be passed.

This year, activist haters targeted businesses supportive of Pride . (No pun intended.)

As Charles Blow recently wrote in the New York Times,

As the L.G.B.T.Q. community celebrates Pride Month, we are besieged by a malicious, coordinated legislative attack.

There’s been a notable rise in the number of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bills since 2018, and that number has recently accelerated, with the 2023 state legislative year being the worst on record.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2023 there have been more than 525 such bills introduced in 41 states, with more than 75 bills signed into law as of June 5. In Florida — the state that became known for its “Don’t Say Gay” law — just last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that banned gender transition care for minors and prohibited public school employees from asking children their preferred pronouns.

As Kelley Robinson, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, recently told me, the number of signed bills is likely to move higher: “There’s 12 more that are sitting on governors’ desks, so you could be at nearly 100 new restrictions on the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community by the end of this cycle.”

Blow compares the current legislative onslaught to the burning of a cross on a Black citizen’s lawn: an effort to frighten and cow a minority population. It is, as he says,  “a malicious, coordinated legislative attack.”

The 2023 state legislative year has arguably been the worst on record. According to HRC, this year there have been more than 525 anti-gay bills introduced in 41 states. As of June 5th, more than 75 have been signed into law, and that number is likely to increase.

The focus on trans children has been particularly despicable, since those children are incredibly vulnerable and least likely to be able to defend themselves. The decision to come after them was–quite obviously– strategic, as Blow points out.

It seems pretty obvious that the trans community is an attractive target for culture war bullies because it’s a small subset of the queer community and an even smaller subset of society as a whole.

According to a study last year by the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A., about 1.6 million people 13 or older in the United States, or 0.6 percent, identify as transgender.

Furthermore, in a 2021 survey, nearly 70 percent of Americans said they know a gay or lesbian person. Only about one in five said they know someone who is trans. That number is up but still small. That’s about the same number who said in response to a 2021 YouGov poll that they’ve seen a ghost.

Recognizing the roots of this particular backlash is critical to understand ing where it’s coming from–and where it wants to go– knowledge we need if we are to counter it successfully.

The war against trans children and the gay community generally is part of a hysterical  reaction to social change–a rejection of the improved status of Blacks, women and other previously marginalized communities. Today’s culture warriors are those who are–in William F. Buckley’s often-quoted description of conservatives– standing athwart history and yelling “stop”!

The party that was “conservative” in Buckley’s day has morphed into the party of pure bigotry in ours. A number of Democratic politicians–including the Mayor– participated in yesterday’s parade. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see a single Republican.

I did see huge contingents seemingly from every large local employer, and endless floats–from the police and fire departments, local schools and universities, civic organizations and LGBTQ clubs…and a crowd of thousands cheering and waving Rainbow flags. 

The immensity of that celebration doesn’t bode well for what has accurately been called the “slate of hate.”


  1. So who are the two Bozos, both representing minorities, appearing in ads to support Jefferson Shreve? It’s very hard to take either of them seriously. Are they plants or are they real?

  2. Live and let live!

    If it isn’t injurious to anyone else, the person’s lifestyle is their own business. As far as being judgmental on anyone, Christians are told to be compassionate and empathetic. To refrain from attempting some sort of punishment and/or judgment. Again, if someone’s lifestyle is not your particular cup of tea so to speak, you don’t have to live it yourself! Love your neighbor, love and respect the foreign resident, love and respect the widows and the children without fathers, and even love your enemy! Love your neighbor means love your fellow humans. Not disparage them.

    Every person presently alive is responsible for their own conduct. In this country it’s supposed to be protected under the Constitution. Of course, this country doesn’t do much good at protecting those who are considered others, or outside the mainstream. But what is the mainstream? Well, when you figure that out, that would be another thread.

    I don’t know how the powers that be, at least certain powers, can religislate civil and human rights. These rights are supposed to be guaranteed. Guaranteed to everyone! The right to live life and all that goes with it. I suppose that’s what freedom is supposed to be, and yet, you have courts and politicians legislating this freedom and binding it with hateful rhetoric no better than shackles and chains.

  3. There seems to me and many others an obvious difference of consensus of tolerance for social differences defined by rural and urban communities. Should rural consensus over rule urban consensus? How close are we to emergence of city-states? Then debate about secession. Democratic Secessionism: the right of secession, as a variant of the right of self-determination, is vested in a “territorial community” which wishes to secede from “their existing political community”; the group wishing to secede then proceeds to delimit “its” territory by the majority. Not only backlash … that could backfire. Be careful what we wish for.

  4. Copied and pasted from the LAU University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) web site: “In mammals, the sex of an individual is determined at conception. When a Y-bearing sperm fertilizes a X-bearing egg, the sex of the embryo is male while a X-bearing sperm will produce a female embryo. In the presence of the Y chromosome, specifically the sex-determining region Y (SRY) gene on this chromosome, the fetus develops testes, which in turn synthesize male sex hormones that are critical for further development of male phenotypic characteristics. In the absence of a Y chromosome, the fetus develops ovaries, synthesizes female sex hormones, important for the development of female phenotypes.”

    All of this occurs while uniting sperm and egg; are studies being done on both genders providing sperm and egg to discover the source of the conception resulting in transsexual fetus rather than male or female? Can this be a genetically based source which could be determined in either gender prior to conceiving. Everyone, pro and/or con, appear only to be concerned with the after-the-fact result and if medical treatment should be provided at any age?

    As with homosexuality; transsexual life is not a chosen gender or life style. Will humans ever reach the point when race and sex are not identifying labels to group “others” as being different? The obvious answer is NO; as evidenced by the millions supporting religions and political parties whose foundation is based on denying rights to those “others” deemed different and unacceptable as worthy of consideration.

    The primary consideration in this entire nation today is how to prevent Donald Trump from becoming Emperor of America to complete is “deconstruction” of our government and end democracy, Rule of Law and the Constitution of the United States of America? This goes far beyond being “Backlash”!!!

  5. John captures the spirit of the discussion – judging others, and treating others.

    My local example is a County Commissioner (rural and urban) who is very outspoken. He claims to represent a wider body when he speaks. He recently made this statement, “I’ll say it again, there is absolutely no place for children at drag shows.”

    Not, my child should never attend, but ALL children should avoid…he almost sounds “Godlike.”

    JoAnn mentions the scientific angle, which is a great point considering a child born with feminine genes in a male body. Wanting to transition to their more natural sex is difficult enough for the child and parents, but the psyche is negatively impacted until then. Can you imagine the contradictions taking place in our children in rural areas?

    What’s even more sadistic is environmental policies (lack of regulation) are causing gender confusion. The same people denying gender transitioning surgeries are also the ones allowing the dumping of harmful chemicals into our waterways. #sadistic

  6. Todd; I must thank you for adding the environment aspect today, the pollution and add the smoke from annual wildfires have serious effects on physical and health issues. It has long been my belief that the environment is the source of most of our health issues today; if not the cause, increasing the unhealthy levels. We are in another day with warning to even keep pets inside as much as possible; the danger level today is lower than it was yesterday but still another warning against breathing the air outside as little as possible, don’t fill gas tanks on vehicles or mow lawns till evening. Ending EPA regulations was one of the most dangerous acts taken by the Trump administration, along with ending education to deny studying why those regulations were and are vital to our survival.

  7. Time to be an outlier…

    I am waiting for the day when we have no need for “Pride” for a small minority in our society when we ignore many “groups” who are also proud and are in larger numbers. When will be “proud” of all of us Americans and only need a July 4th parade?

  8. Our pride parades, drag shows, and other joyous events are our defense against a hostile culture. We won’t need them when the hostility stops….but we may still enjoy them!

  9. Scientists are learning more about gender orientation, sexual identity, and sexual preference but there are still big gaps in their understanding. The science is complex. It is made even more difficult to study because these things are influenced by both genetic and environmental conditions and no two people, even identical twins, are exactly alike. And studying humans is fraught with ethical issues which it would be outrageous to violate. Watch for new discoveries.

  10. Sharon,

    Got it…let’s have Jew Price, Black Pride, Latino Pride, Poor White Trash, Homeless Pride…parades. And let’s let the money, energy and “fun” spent on those distract us from the looming authoritarian rule.

  11. If you’re looking for Republicans at any gay event, you need to open the closet door. If they’re not there, try the men’s bathroom at the airport.

  12. Lester, seriously, what is that about? Sharon describes the valid purpose the celebrations serve right now, and then simply adds that they are fun, so countering the fact that they would _need_ to stop.

    Your initial post _could_ be read simply as a plea for a future time when no one is attacked for being some sort of minority or “other” group, which would be entirely laudable. And not as any sort of condemnation of fun parades. By your reaction in the second post, though, you instead make a mockery of these existing celebrations, turning them into a blight to be eradicated. This completely undermines the hopeful way I was choosing to read your first post. I guess you’ve corrected me. Unfortunately.

    Sharon, I’d happily attend a parade with you, and for as long as you want to have them. 🙂

  13. Being gay and or being a friend of a gay person of course in our society has been more widely accepted. Especially inclusion in companies and corporations is expected.
    Is gay pride month also LGBTQ plus month. Is it an adult thing or should we be reaching children in schools? Should we teach that we need to accept those that chose a gay lifestyle or should we also be asking them at an early age to question their own gender?
    We need to note that the transgender community and the gay community are beginning to find differences. A gay man standing in Target with a sign that says “stop trying to make girls out of our gay boys” was in the news for example.
    Also look at how Riley Gaines was punched by a transgender man and had to be kept in a room when she asked people to consider TitleIX rights as a female who tied with a biological male.
    There are gay female swimmers, basketball players etc that are being sidelined, right? Right or wrong in my or anyone else’s mind, is it wrong to support gay people in sports especially if they are being sidelined by transgender female?
    Those in Europe appear to be finding a balance in their countries. Some have written laws that are calling and have written laws for transgender surgeries to be delayed. Are the laws that delay transgender surgery fir adulthood necessarily a bad thing when we know the development thru puberty is important to lifetime of health?
    Should laws be written that if you dint accept the LGBTQ community as a whole you cannot adopt?
    How far do we go with our laws? Who on either side is being “punished”?
    We live in a world that is full of backlash

  14. John,

    IMHO – these and all other minority parades/”months”/etc. are a form of virtue signaling and provide more of the “distraction by amusement” that dominates our culture. The rich and powerful love it when the masses are too busy to pay attention to what is happening “behind the curtain”. Like tearing down Confederate statues, how does that change everyday prejudice/inequality? The more we do stuff to assume that “feeling better” is a solution, the further we are from working to save democracy.

  15. Joann,
    Working in a hospital in IT in the 1980’s helping set a new patient registration system, I was shocked to discover that M/F is NOT an either or choice. Even before genetic testing there was a third choice of hermaphrodite, where physical genitalia was indeterminate and in most cases those individuals still had the normal XY chromosome combination. In addition, it turns out that with advances in genetic testing, the simple XY chromosome has a few more combinations other than male and female. In addition physical sex does not determine ones sexuality. So for about 10% of the population things aren’t as clear as most of us used to think or pretend it was. I think thanks to the efforts of gay rights activists much education has been done, and there are a lot of people who’s lives are much happier now.

    Having moved downtown in the late 80’s I discovered we had gay neighbors. They were happy couples making a life together. Moving into the 90’s as gay rights started to make inroads into society, our neighborhood suddenly had straight couples with kids that were getting divorced because one of the partner’s only married somebody of the opposite sex because that was society expected of them.

    In all of my years as a Scout leader, I now know that at least three outstanding former scouts (all Eagle Scouts) that were in my troop have since come out as gay. I meet one of them the other day. He was lead organizer for a gay pride tricycle race the weekend before race day.

    It makes me very happy to know that these people are leading successful and happy lives. It doesn’t take away from my happiness.

    There must be some really insecure people out there though. I suspect you’ve heard of the Budweiser boycott? Budweiser hired a gay social media influencer to promote their brand and the anti-woke crowd latched onto it decided to boycott Budweiser. It’s called “Budwiping”. It caused a 10% drop in sales of Budweiser beer, but that’s not all bad news. Most of the anti-woke crowd switched to other Anheuser-Busch products!

    Right wing media has also latched onto Cracker Barrel. They posted a picture of one of their porch rocking chairs painted in rainbow colors with the message “All are welcome here”. That also ignited a social media firestorm. Even Chick-fil-a is having problems. Even though it’s been in place for three years, the anti-woke crowd has discovered that they have “Inclusive” polices that are part of their corporate mission statement.

    It will take some people longer to realize than others, but we all do better when we all do better.

  16. Indiana Capital Chronicle posted an opinion piece, pointing out that all of the Pride events started out as protests. It’s just now that the “anti-woke” crowd has noticed that they are the ones being protested.

    Unlike the abortion issue, the right wing politician won’t alienate 50% of his base by jumping on the anti-LGBTQ+ bandwagon. So, once again we a “safe” wedge issue to induce fear into gullible voters.

  17. Ain’t it great when we whirl up storms of Price v/s anit-LGBRQ+ rhetoric, activities and money. Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Makes for lots of “newsertainment” and clicks…and little else of substance.

  18. John H,

    I think what Lester is referring to is the age old albeit millennia’s old practice of bread and circuses.

    Enormous sums of money and resources were allotted towards distracting displays of interest and so-called free food and such paid by taxpayers, to take their minds off of the decay of civil secular society and the decline of their particular civilization.

    John S bring some valid points also. All of these things should be considered before demonizing one way or the other.

    The main issue, is live and let live! You don’t necessarily have to jam your opinions down someone else’s throat. One doesn’t have to flaunt a Me’ist self aggrandizing attitude. Anyone can be proud of who and what they are, in a free society, supposedly that is a guarantee. But those guarantees protect everyone to have their own opinions as long as they don’t harm their fellow citizens.

    Is European culture, Native American culture, African American culture, Scott’s Irish culture, British colonial culture, to be celebrated to the point of division? Supposedly not here! Everyone is free to have an opinion, everyone is supposed to be free to live their lifestyles, cultures, and conscience, everyone is supposed to be free to worship whatever they worship, everyone is free to associate or not.

    Todd also brings up some very valid points. People, organizations, and parties that are serial deniers, are just that, they attempt to impose their opinions on others who don’t agree with them by any means necessary! Me’ism is a two-edged sword, and it really is an intolerable one.

  19. Lester. We LGBTQ folks have accomplished a lot of substantive change in the last couple of decades. You just seem bitter about the fact that we can also enjoy our successes AND continue working to improve our lot. What have you done to help us? I’m guessing nothing much.

  20. Lester, can’t you just be satisfied that EVERY day is Straight White Cis Male Pride Day??? Good lord…

  21. Lester,

    Obviously you struck a nerve lol! One doesn’t have to agree with anybody else’s lifestyle, and one cannot be controlled by someone else’s conscience. But everybody needs to abide by the secularist rules in a secularist society. Live the life you choose right?

    It seems that you have folks that prefer to jam their lifestyle down someone else’s throat! Live your life as you choose right? Be tolerant of everyone else’s desire to do the same right? But that seems not to be enough, and that in itself is the heart of Me’ism, which, is a form of narcissism. As long as everyone has the same opportunities, as long as everyone is treated as equals, it doesn’t matter what someone’s personal opinion is! Is it appropriate to try and force someone to think something you prefer them to think? Isn’t that a sign of authoritarian thought process? Live your life as you wish, isn’t that what freedom is? Also, isn’t freedom to not agree with a particular lifestyle? As long as those two issues don’t take precedent over each other, then, isn’t that constitutional?

    Being discriminated against should not have to be a huge public production, the courts are supposed to handle those sorts of things. They are really to be kept confidential and a matter of record for future court cases. Except everyone is too willing to make the conflict public. That’s narcissistic and Me’ist.

  22. Pride is good, pride in being intelligent enough to allow others to be themselves, to not buy into the fearmongering
    and “othering.” Working to be authentically oneself is a path to mental health, and needs to be allowed for others.
    Whatever the chemical, genetic, process it is that leads different people to be different, it is part of the nature
    within which we all exist. The concept of humans having “Dominion” over nature is a massive mistaken
    It is nice to see that the fear motivated cruelty and hatred appears to be loosing its grip on the “others.”

  23. Sharon, I was going to respond to Lester that it wasn’t about “feeling better” but normalizing gay people in society and celebrating that the person is not being forced to hide. Blah, blah. You beat me to it. 🙂

    John S, while some of your points are interesting, some make me very nervous. For example, you mention people CHOOSING a gay lifestyle. It’s not a choice. We are attracted to the people we are attracted to, and it’s as simple as that. The only choice is whether to hide your particular attractions or not. And the idea of hiding is abhorrent. No one should have to go through life hiding and pretending.

    And to answer your question, we absolutely should teach acceptance of LGBTQ people. And that is NOT the same as trying to sway people to be gay or trans. It accomplishes two key things: (1) teaches acceptance to everyone (another way, removes stigma), and (2) provides a safer and more secure environment for those who are already LGBTQ, but confused and/or fearful.

    PS You absolutely should remove confederate statues from public display. Put them in a museum, fine, but by having them in public, you are celebrating the racism that begat your civil war. If I was black, I would absolutely hate walking past a statue glorifying slavery as I am out and about in my own city. There’s a reason you don’t see statues of Hitler and other nazis when you walk around Germany.

  24. One other little note… Lester, this may or may not apply to you, I don’t know. However, when I’ve encountered a person complaining about “virtue signalling”, it has often turned out the person simply doesn’t like the “virtue” they think is being signalled. But that’s just been my experience.

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