On October 28, anti-LGBTQ hecklers interrupted a drag story hour solidarity event in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. Many New Yorkers would perceive such resistance as a bold act — not impossible, but perhaps unexpected in a city that is far away from the nation’s most notorious hotbeds of homophobia and transphobia.
In June, Republican Councilmember Vickie Paladino of Queens turned heads when she suggested that drag story hour amounted to “child grooming and sexualization” — a shocking statement voiced by a sitting lawmaker in New York City.
Just a few years ago, we probably would not have seen such straightforward displays of bigotry in New York City. But this is the new reality — the product of endless streams of fear mongering by right-wing circles ranging from the nightly Tucker Carlson show to the halls of Congress.
With the midterm elections upon us, LGBTQ rights are indeed on the ballot yet again, from coast to coast, even if other issues have overshadowed the political landscape. It’s worth pointing out the parallels between attacks on democracy and the rise of homophobia and transphobia: Many of the same lawmakers who voted to overturn the 2020 election are also opponents of LGBTQ rights.
Everything you need to know is evident in the breakdown of votes. None of the 139 members of the House of Representatives who voted to overturn the 2020 election voted in favor of the Equality Act, an LGBTQ non-discrimination bill, when it came before the lower chamber last year. That included Representative Lee Zeldin, who is now running for governor of New York State.
And in the Senate — which has yet to vote on the Equality Act — the eight lawmakers who voted to overturn the election are just as dismal on LGBTQ issues.
Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, for example, proposed legislation barring trans kids from playing sports. Rick Scott of Florida shamefully said we “shouldn’t allow men to play in women’s sports.”
Roger Marshall of Kansas called for a TV monitoring board to warn parents when networks show content related to gender dysphoria. John Kennedy of Louisiana went on Tucker Carlson’s show last year and insisted that there “are only two sexes.”
Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi said earlier this year that trans inclusion in sports “will inevitably deprive women and girls of spots on sports team rosters.” Josh Hawley of Missouri said the Equality Act would force adoption agencies and other groups to “change [their] faith-based practices or face government punishment.”
Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and blasted President Barack Obama for his guidance on trans students. Ted Cruz of Texas has described homosexual conduct as “a choice” and perpetuated the offensive term “biological males” when discussing the Equality Act.
There is clearly a pattern: Democracy and our community’s rights go hand-in-hand. This is not a time to sit on the sidelines and watch it all unfold.
Make your voice heard at the ballot box and take a stand before it’s too late.