On Saturday, June 11, 31 men affiliated with the Patriot Front, a white-supremacist group, were arrested in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, preparing to riot at an annual Pride in the Park event. Following this, on Sunday, a group a five Proud Boys went to San Lorenzo, California to disrupt a Drag Queen Story Hour at the San Lorenzo Library with verbal abuse. The same day in Arlington, Texas, a group of 30 protested at a venue that hosted a drag brunch show to benefit two charities. The protesters claimed they were protecting children…from a show that was for adults only!
The flurry of laws attacking LGBTQ+ rights, along with politicians and religious leaders who embrace hate, are emboldening right-wing extremists and terror groups to threaten Pride events. So, what must we do to defend LGBTQ+ rights? It’s important that we step up rather than step back in the face of these attacks. Let’s keep in mind that according to a detailed report by Public Religion Research Institute, support for LGBTQ+ rights is higher than ever among all segments of the U.S. population.
The specifics of the report are worth looking at. The extremists are a small minority. The 31 arrested members of the Patriot Front don’t have the numbers locally to oppose a Pride event. They were not from Coeur D’Alene, but rather had converged from many states, including Texas, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Arkansas, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Virginia, according to the police. The arrests occurred because a local person saw something suspicious and tipped off the police.
But we can’t count on the police. So, what to do? Everywhere we are, we need to continue to gather, to speak up, to defend the freedom to be and to love whomever we choose, and with our overwhelming numbers, commitment to the cause, determination, and creativity, we can make this sick minority of haters go into hiding.