I’ve now been sharing news (and some opinions) with you for the better part of a year through this column. For those of you following along, you know 2023 has been a heavy year for LGBTQ+ people, with 495 homophobic bills being tracked by the ACLU, with only 216 defeated, the rest being advanced or signed into law.
The results aren’t consistent; in Virginia, all the hateful bills were defeated, thanks to a single vote advantage the Democrats managed to hold onto when they lost the House of Delegates and the Governor’s Mansion (this is your reminder: this November the entire Virginia Senate and House — every seat — is up for election. Vote!). In states like Florida, Texas, and Arkansas, the outcome has been a nightmare.
A lot is happening in the country and world. Unfortunately, these attacks are all too familiar to LGBTQ+ people who lived through the homophobia of the ‘80s and ‘90s — it’s the same crocodile tears about children’s safety — and the bills have been lazily updated to aim squarely at trans folks. We are disappointed that this is happening in 2023, but we aren’t terribly surprised; even those of us with quite a bit of privilege regularly battle explicit and coded discrimination whenever we are visible.
To be crystal clear: there is no daylight between homophobia and transphobia. Here in America, people are ostensibly free, and the things we do in our bedroom, if done between consenting adults, is really nobody’s business, let alone the government’s. Same goes for what’s underneath our clothes, or what we choose to do with our bodies (at least in theory).
One cannot be an ally of the LGBTQ+ community with exceptions. Trans people are an irrevocable part of our community. They are us. We are them. We may not all identify the exact same way, but we are unified by a single, simple truth: we exist, and we deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
Everybody does — especially kids.
A lot has happened every week, and sometimes it almost feels monotonous to report, because it’s so familiar and repetitive and obviously wrong, at least to me — but it’s happening, and it’s important to take note.
It is demoralizing and exhausting at times, but there is a hidden silver lining to these culture wars.
This sudden fixation on trans youth isn’t because one trans person swam faster than a cisgender person, or because Bud Light had pronouns on a can (as I shared last week, they started heavily marketing to the queer community in the ‘90s). It isn’t because anything bad has happened due to trans folks using the proper restroom that have people up in arms.
The reason trans folks are the current focus of right-wing hate, now in 2023, is because a new generation of parents are doing better. For the first time in history, parents of trans kids are accepting them as-is in large numbers. This is, unfortunately, not the case for all — but gen X and millennial parents are loving their trans kids, listening to them and, most significantly, advocating for them and their safety and well-being in school.
And the right is panicked.
This Sunday, I am kicking off a new organization to represent queer folks (and our straight allies) in The Little City. In a joint event with NOVA Pride (a nonprofit organization I founded in 2007), LGBTQ+ Falls Church will launch this Sunday at Clare and Don’s Beach Shack.
There is no agenda for this meeting, other than to meet your neighbors and be kind (and hopefully sign up for our mailing list!). You are encouraged to come, the only condition being that you bring with you a spirit of inclusion and kindness. That’s it.
My grandparents grew up in Annandale, as did my mother, and that’s where I was raised — just next to Falls Church. As a lifelong progressive activist, I’ve always appreciated F.C.’s reliable dark-blue voting bloc (though this past June truly took the cake). It wasn’t until I began working for the News-Press last year, though, that I realized just how special The Little City’s sense of community is. I quickly moved within city limits, and am thrilled to be a part of this community.
Join me this weekend at Clare and Don’s. Let’s make our community even stronger by together ensuring all our LGBTQ+ neighbors feel as welcome as you continue to make me feel.
Please spread the word.