Pride Month is halfway over, and what a month it has been so far. It’s awesome to see photos from the many Pride events and marches across the country and the world. It is NOT so awesome to see photos of masked right-wing terrorists who had been planning to “disrupt” a Pride event in Idaho.
According to the Idaho Statesman, 31 men from the group Patriot Front (more like “Patriot Fail,” amirite?) “wearing khakis, blue shirts and coats, white balaclavas and baseball caps” had crammed themselves into a U-Haul with riot gear and paperwork “that appeared similar to a police or military operations plan” and were heading toward the Pride event.
Thankfully, someone saw these losers piling into the U-Haul in a hotel parking lot and called the police to report them, resulting in the crew getting pulled over and taken into custody.
Having just observed the six-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre on June 12, I think it’s safe to say that things have not gotten better in the last six years for LGBTQ+ people in the United States. Or for anybody, really, aside from the handful of billionaires that hoard the bulk of this country’s wealth and get richer no matter how shitty things get for the rest of us.
Since Pulse we have done (checks notes) FUCK ALL about gun violence in the U.S., right-wing domestic terrorists have flourished, and LGBTQ+ people have repeatedly been the target of hatred and political attacks. While most Americans see these three things as very terrible and unacceptable, the Republican Party literally sees them as three things checked off their TO DO list.
Republicans are anti-gun control of any kind, see right-wing extremists as “the good guys” and Black Americans sick and tired of being murdered by the police as the real enemies. They also continuously push legislation to punish LGBTQ+ people, whether it’s charging the parents of transgender kids with child abuse, banning Drag Queen story time at public libraries, or running candidates who say all LGBTQ+ people should be executed. That’s today’s Republican party, y’all.
So while I would like to be shocked that a little army of angry and insecure white men were on their way to fuck up Pride, I am not. This is literally the next logical scene in the awful script this country has been writing for years. Frankly, I hate this movie. Alas, I am trapped in it.
Currently running for Congress in South Carolina is Mark Burns, who says the country should execute those who commit treason, which includes Sens Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham for their support of gun control (a completely laughable assertion, as they have both made it very clear that the slaughter of elementary school students is just the cost of doing business in the United Guns of America) and LGBTQ+ people and anyone who supports LGBTQ+ people.
“The LGBT, transgender grooming [of] our children’s minds is a national security threat because it is ultimately designed to destabilize the republic we call the United States of America,” Burns says on one of the many, many right-wing shows that exist on the internet. “That’s why when I’m elected, I don’t want to just vote, I want to start holding people accountable for treason to the Constitution.”
And what should we do with those who commit treason?
“We need to hold people for treason, start having some public hearings, and start executing people who are found guilty for their treasonous acts against the Constitution of the United States of America, just like they did back in 1776,” he says.
It’s a wild thing to say. Especially since Burns, who is Black, has apparently decided to ignore this country’s long history of white mobs acting as judge, jury, and executioner and hanging Black people from trees. Or perhaps he believes in the “critical race theory” propaganda that his party is pushing so hard to literally whitewash U.S. history. It’s a stretch, to say the least, to say that the U.S. was at its best in the late 1700s.
Burns is not the first, and he won’t be the last, to publicly call for violence against LGBTQ+ people. It’s just that such calls used to come from fringe elements of society, not one of the country’s two major political parties. And in a county that has more guns than people, we know where this leads. People are going to die.
I want everyone to celebrate being themselves and the historic progress LGBTQ+ people have made since Stonewall.
And then, I want us all to channel our energy into ousting every single Republican we can at every level of government, from school board to city council to state races to federal. Our lives depend on it.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.