Press "Enter" to skip to content

Pride and Prejudice: Confronting Increasing Opposition to LGBTQ+ Rights

In the United States, June is officially recognized as “Pride Month” and is dedicated to the celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and empowerment of the community. June is significant in LGBTQ+ history because of the infamous Stonewall Riots, also known as the Stonewall Uprising, which took place in New York City in 1969. On June 28th, when police violently raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, a rebellion was triggered. The Stonewall event and following uprisings across the city was monumental for the LGBTQ+ community and for LGBTQ+ rights.   

Much progress has been made since 1969 in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, and Pride Month is an opportunity to reflect on those achievements and to continue the fight. 

In just the past decade, huge victories have arrived for the LGBTQ+ community. Eight years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. 

In 2023 however, the tone has changed. According to the Human Rights Campaign, a record 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year alone, and a record 70 of those bills have been enacted into law. These laws range from censoring books in public schools that depict queer, transgender and nonbinary identities to denying essential medical care to transgender individuals. 

From a stand at a pride festival in Silver Spring, Maryland, Judy Fox, 49, owner of Just J’s Jewelry, sells her crafts. 13% of the profits Fox makes from selling her jewelry goes towards organizations such as the Trevor Project and Equal Justice Initiative. To her left at the end of the street is a faction of protestors imploring festival goers to repent and turn away from pride and homosexuality.

Though she mainly conducts her business online, Fox often comes to events that express support for the LGBTQ+ community and even makes jewelry incorporating queer, trans, and gender nonconforming symbolism. 

Fox is an ally of the community and has reported encountering individuals “that don’t see [her] business as legitimate because [she sells] to the queer community.” 

Fox believes that there is more acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community nowadays than in the past, but the country is starting to “go backwards.” 

Fox says that, “people who don’t accept that I sell rainbow jewelry feel that they have a voice that they didn’t have four or five years ago,” which has spread to normalize and encourage hatred. 

The recent political momentum behind anti-LGBTQ+ legislation coincides with increasing intolerance towards queer, transgender and nonbinary individuals amongst Republican voters.

A recent Gallup poll reveals a 7% decrease (from 71% in 2022 to 64% in 2023) in the proportion of Republicans who view same-sex relationships as morally acceptable. In 2023, Americans in general increasingly support the notion that gender is determined by the sex an individual is assigned at birth, with 60% support in 2023 versus 54% in 2017. 

Popular positions within a political party’s base inevitably trickle up to influence the policies and legislation that party officials support. For example, the official platform of the Texas Republican Party, a state that is responsible for a fifth of all anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed in 2023, asserts that homosexuality is “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and declared opposition to “all efforts to validate transgender identity.” 

Rising homophobia and transphobia in 2023 has impacts outside of the systemic and legal realm. Civic demonstrations expressing aggressive opposition towards LGBTQ+ acceptance and visibility have become more common amongst staunch social conservatives, but unlike traditional protests these demonstrations frequently employ explicit violence and intimidation. 

The violent undertones of modern right-wing rhetoric towards the LGBTQ+ community are best exemplified by a viral moment at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, when popular right-wing media figure Michael Knowles implored that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely,” and was met with resounding applause

The emergence of violent opposition to rights for queer, transgender and gender nonconforming individuals amongst mainstream Republicans can be largely attributed to conservative media outlets pushing the narrative that the LGBTQ+ community has an agenda to indoctrinate children for lude and nefarious purposes. This narrative has caught on within right-wing media circles creating echo chambers of bigotry that thrive off an inaccurate and disgusting characterization of the LGBTQ+ community. The message has succeeded in convincing many conservatives that LGBTQ+ identities are an existential threat to them and their families.

These outlets have been known to accuse public institutions and businesses of “grooming” the youth by exposing them to LGBTQ+ identities and perspectives. Associating queer individuals with pedophilia is not something new, but rather, has been  a common propaganda tactic used by right wing figures since the early twentieth century.

One social media account has been especially monumental in the normalization of this rhetoric today and has even been referenced in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. LibsOfTikTok has amassed 2.3 million Twitter followers by reposting images and videos with captions that imply the subjects of the post are attempting to maliciously confuse children of their sexual and gender identity. 

The owner of the account, Chaya Raichik, has been featured on various right-wing platforms such as the now defunct Tucker Carlson Tonight. Unsurprisingly, the content she posts on her account has allegedly inspired followers to make violent threats against children’s hospitals that her account has targeted for offering gender-affirming care.

Corporations that express support for the LGBTQ+ community through advertising and branding during pride month, a practice that was considerably rare prior to the twenty-first century, find themselves struggling against reactionary push back from social conservatives. 

One notable victim of right-wing cultural backlash is Anheuser-Busch, whose subsidiary Bud Light has come under fire of a boycott for sending actress Dylan Mulvaney cans of beer with her face on them. This gesture outraged conservatives with many pundits calling for and subsequently mobilizing a boycott. By May 31st, on the hinges of pride month, Anheuser-Busch stock had plummeted by 20%. 

Conservatives and anti-LGBTQ+ activists have also put Target in their crosshairs for selling pride themed clothing in designated sections of their stores. The retail giant suffered losses of 14% in stock market valuation over the span of just 10 days this month. 

These boycotts, while successful in the traditional sense, have also inspired many conservatives to carry out acts of violence and intimidation on businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community. For instance, in many stores in the southern region of the U.S., Target has had to move their pride section far from the entrances because anti-LGBTQ+ protesters would knock over displays and intimidate workers

Though anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes and policies have seen a concerning rise in recent years, expressions of acceptance and support continue to outnumber this dissidence. This is especially true amongst younger generations who are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+. 

“Being queer is not an illness, it is not a disease, it is not a disorder; it can’t spread,” says Xander Grey, the head of programs for the national LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, Queer Youth Assemble. 

Through his activism, Grey promotes acceptance for his community through advocacy and empathetic communication to combat harmful misconceptions. Grey’s role in QYA allows him to connect LGBTQ+ youth with each other to share their experiences in inclusive spaces.

Grey himself is a bisexual and transmasculine high school junior who believes that anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda owes its effectiveness to enduring old-world beliefs and a lack of exposure to LGBTQ+ voices. 

Younger generations being more likely to identify as queer, trans or gender nonconforming is not the result of institutional indoctrination but rather, Grey says, “celebrities and older people coming out and being more vocal about their experiences.” 

Reduced stigma, Grey believes, can help LGBTQ+ youth vocalize their own experiences and feel more comfortable expressing their identity. 

Visibility is a key component for achieving LGBTQ+ rights and combating fear of the community. Grey says that, “there are a lot of parts of America that are becoming more accepting and improving their laws and community supports,” most specifically, population dense, diverse metropolitan areas.

However, in certain Republican-run states with few prominent LGBTQ+voices, Grey believes LGBTQ+ rights are regressing, and this legal and systemic regression, he says, “will take a long time to fully undo.”

Grey encourages allies and members of the community to “show up for us,” and to share accurate information and helpful resources online. It is important, Grey says, to be, “learning more about each other and accepting more.”

Though many parts of the country maintain an inclusive attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community, within these jurisdictions pockets of prevailing old-world beliefs surrounding same-sex relationships and gender can still perpetuate an enduring culture of denial and repression. Even well intentioned allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community can still harbor prejudicial and ignorant beliefs that include some identities while excluding others.

One attendee of Silver Spring pride shares their experience as a nonbinary and bisexual individual. Although they hail from Maryland, a state that is relatively tolerant and inclusive, they “have seen how the growing rise in intolerance has been affecting queer members across the country” and have witnessed a “very small but vocal” minority of anti-LGBTQ individuals in Maryland. 

“There are people in my life that have more bigoted views than I would hope,” they say, and though this makes them frustrated, they also acknowledge the complex intersectionality of their identity. 

“I’m non-binary, but I’m female presenting; I am white; I’m not poor but not rich either,” they say. “Unfortunately, many people are more comfortable with the middle-class gay than… people of color in the community,” because the latter are often discriminated against for factors that are external to their gender or sexuality. 

Acknowledging how identities intertwine with each other both systemically and culturally are vital for making the LGBTQ+ community more inclusive and visible. “The way we lose is by hiding who we really are and fitting into their ideals without making ours more acceptable,” they state. 

Significant progress has been made throughout American history for the rights and acceptance of LGBTQ individuals; however, increasing opposition towards queer, trans, and non-binary identities threatens to undo it all. This pride month it is important to recognize this trend and stand up against violent attempts to deny the LGBTQ community of their existence. 

The path towards equality should not be laid using the cobblestones of violence, but rather the bricks of visibility, empathy, and advocacy.

Nate Sharma is a junior Political Science major working as a Staff Reporter. Contact Nate at