And looking back on 2023: Anti-LGBTQ efforts featured heavily

by Joe Siegel

Anti-LGBTQ legislation, from bans on drag performances and gender-affirming care to attacks on LGBTQ pioneers, featured heavily in the pages of LGBTQ media over the past year.

From a national perspective, “The biggest stories of the year were the hundreds of legislative attacks on the LGBTQ community and the concurrent rise in hate crimes and attacks on our corporate allies,” said Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade.

Patrick Farabaugh, editor of Our Lives Magazine

And in individual states, “There’s been an anti-trans legislative onslaught by the GOP in [Wisconsin], rolling out multiple bills every week for multiple weeks in a row,” said Patrick Farabaugh, editor of Madison-based Our Lives Magazine.

In Philadelphia, “Some of the biggest stories we covered in 2023 included the Moms for Liberty protests, where Philly loudly proclaimed to the anti-LGBTQ+ group that hate has no place in our city,” said Jeremy Rodriguez, editor of the Philadelphia Gay News. “We also elected our first LGBTQ+ city councilmember, Rue Landau, and that was a huge deal for our community.”

In San Francisco, “The biggest story we covered revolved around The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being invited, then disinvited and then finally being re-invited [after a backlash] to be a part of the Los Angeles Dodger’s annual LGBTQ Pride Night,” said Mark Ariel, editor of The Fight magazine in L.A.

“We felt this illuminated a bigger part of the story — being that anti-LGBTQ sentiment has been spreading across the country over the past year or two. As much as California is a liberal state, it still effects us — with major companies and brands being suddenly reluctant to support us,” Ariel added.

San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter featured a June 8 story by John Ferrannini with the headline “Anti-LGBTQ backlash comes to California.”

“The nationwide backlash against LGBTQ equality has reached the Golden State, with queer heroes being demonized, Pride flags being banned, and even physical fights breaking out up and down California,” Ferrannini wrote.

“In Temecula — between Los Angeles and San Diego — a book about slain gay San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk has been banned from use in schools; in Sacramento, some Republican lawmakers walked out of the Legislature when Sister Roma of the drag nun Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, among others, were being honored; in Glendale, three have been arrested after violence outside a school board meeting; and in Orange County, the Pride flag has been banned from county buildings.”

Texas, one of the most conservative states in the country, was a particular hotbed of anti-LGBTQ legislation.

“There were some 69 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced between the House and the Senate in Texas,” said Tammye Nash, managing editor of the Dallas Voice. “Considering how many were introduced, we were fortunate that only three passed, but those three are pretty horrendous. One bans DEI programs in state-funded schools. One tried to ban drag — it has been declared unconstitutional in court but that will likely be appealed — and one bans gender-affirming health care for trans youth.”

“In March, a Democratic senator, Royce West, who has always been considered a reliable ally, voted in favor of the ‘drag ban’ law,” Nash continued. “David Taffet wrote a story calling him out for the vote and reminding people that even when we think we can count on a specific legislator, we need to reach out and make sure we know where they stand. Also in the area of politics, we have reported on Congressman Colin Allred’s campaign to unseat anti-LGBTQ U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and state Rep. Julie Johnson’s campaign to fill Allred’s seat in the U.S. House. We have published interviews with both of them.”

The news wasn’t all bad for LGBTQ rights. the Blade reported on December 8: “Anti-LGBTQ provisions submitted by House Republicans to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been removed from the defense spending bill, triggering outrage from conservative lawmakers and praise from LGBTQ groups. … This week saw the revocation of two measures targeting gender affirming care along with the book ban and drag ban. Language stipulating the list of approved flags that can be flown at military bases was amended such that more flags can be added on a discretionary basis.”

“MAGA members of Congress tried to hijack the National Defense Authorization Act to advance their anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, attempting to riddle it with discriminatory riders,” Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement to the Washington Blade. His statement continued, “They failed and equality won. Anti-LGBTQ+ provisions, including efforts to restrict access to gender affirming care, were rejected. The anti-LGBTQ+ agenda continues to be deeply unpopular across the country and a failing political strategy.”

Volume 25
Issue 9

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