Local Commentary, National Commentary, News

The Weekly Diplomatic Reach: May 25 – 31

City Council Declares June 2023 Pride Month in The Little City

On Monday, F.C. City Council declared June 2023 Pride Month, and this writer was honored to accept the proclamation on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, in my roles as President and Executive Director of NOVA Pride, and Executive Director of LGBT Falls Church.

Over the ten and change years that this writer has lobbied for these proclamations across the region, most have been variations of, largely, the initial proclamations I helped draft.

This year feels different, with 500 bills (so far) introduced  across the country targeting LGBTQ+ folks, and in particular trans children.  More than half have passed.  Virginia was one Senate vote away from undoing decades of hard-fought progress.

To City Council: thank you for your relevant, specific, timely words that identify the real ongoing danger we face in the current political climate, and for the genuine sentiments of support that make it clear that we belong here.  Words matter.  You nailed it. 

2nd Florida Man Runs For President

On Wednesday, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has spent the last year launching a war against “wokeness,” which his counsel has clarified as a “belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them,” launched a Presidential campaign… on Twitter.

Last year DeSantis signed into Florida law the “Stop Woke Act,” which bans businesses and schools from teaching anything that may make one “feel guilt, anguish, or any form of psychological distress.”

Read that quote a few times over.  A federal judge has struck down much of it, and was quoted as calling it “positively dystopian.”

DeSantis has also signed into law a sweeping slate of homophobic and transphobic legislation, mandating teachers to “out” students to parents, outlawing calling them by their preferred pronouns, and forcing them to use bathrooms that make them less safe.  This included the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that makes it illegal to mention the existence of non-heterosexual identities to anybody under 18.  Drag shows, which are a blanket term for any performance by a professional female impersonator, are now illegal if there is any chance of a minor seeing them, so the location options are quite limited.  

Drag shows span from storytime for children at the local library (we had one here at MRSPL), to PG-themed banter during drag bingo (we have this every month at Clare and Don’s), to racier themed shows at nightclubs.  

We already have rules about what people can and cannot do that cover all of this.  Nobody is forcing kids to go to drag shows.  Parents are allowed to bring their kids to R-rated movies, let them get tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, swear, and in some states marry their cousins.  Why do we need a law banning Mrs. Doubtfire?

Disney hasn’t been a fan of these things, and DeSantis has retaliated in a Trump-like disregard for all things legal or decent in society, including massive tax district changes that could cost the company.  

In response last week, Disney, which will be here long after the cockroaches, canceled a $1 billion development in the state, or $50 per Floridian… and with 75,000 employees and $75 billion in annual economic impact on the state, Disney has a lot more leverage left.

Florida Attack On Literacy Escalates

We also learned Wednesday that, due to a single complaint, the poem delivered by Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb, at the Biden Inauguration is now banned from elementary schools in Florida.  

At 22 years old, the poet laureate was the youngest ever to deliver an inaugural poem, joining the ranks of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.  Gorman said she was “gutted” on social media, while noting that “The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.”

The complaint, which incorrectly attributes the poem to Oprah Winfrey, says Gorman’s work: “is not educational and have indirectly hate massages,” [sic] and “cause confusion and indoctrinate stud.” [sic].  The same parent complained about two books about Cuba, The ABCs of Black History, and Love to Langston.  All but one are now removed from Florida elementary schools as inappropriate

Gorman deserves the final word:

“If we’re to live up to our own time

then victory won’t lie in the blade

but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade,

the hill we climb

if only we dare it,

because being American 

is more than a pride we inherit

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it.”

-Amanda Gorman

View the entire inaugural delivery of the poem at bit.ly/FCNP0523AG.