This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, when people bravely fought back against police harassment at a gay bar in Greenwich Village. This uprising brought the struggles of LGBT people out of the shadows and sparked the political and cultural movement for LGBT people to be seen and treated as full human beings. Fierce, determined, collective struggle led to progress. Because of the rebellion at Stonewall, the LGBT movement went on to fight for the lives of millions affected by HIV, and for equality in marriage, employment, and other spheres of society.
It has only been a few years in which LGBT people have begun to be able to take their rightful place in society, and already we are seeing how fragile this was. Right now, LGBT people are the targets of a particular kind of revenge – the revenge of a fascist movement in power in the highest institutions in the land, determined to silence, intimidate, and erase the LGBT community. This is worse than just turning back the clock. To lose the rights so recently won, to be sent back in the closet, to lose precious lives to wanton hate crimes, to have to submit to the vicious homophobic patriarchy of this Christian fascism, and the implications of the determination of these fascists to destroy any ability of LGBT people to fight for or win their rights again, is nothing less than a road to genocide.
We watched as the Trump/Pence regime banned transgender troops, eliminated LGBT concerns from government document and services, dismissed discrimination complaints from LGBT students, and instituted state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people. We watched as the Supreme Court made it legal for businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers. We hear Trump make jokes about Mike Pence wanting to hang gay people. But as with every attack that has come down from this regime, the outrage is nowhere near commensurate with the actual danger we all face.
Fascists want a future that is cemented in this horrible past – the days before Stonewall, before Roe v Wade, before the Civil Rights Act – when gay people, women, and black people were subject to overt and brute violence and terror. No one with a heart should want to go back to that. This regime is fighting a war against the people on many fronts as part of a total vision and strategy. They have not yet been able to implement their full program, but every victory they win takes us further into a full-throttled nightmare.
As Drea Shadburne wrote in 2018, “Who will not survive the lynch mob terror that they are unleashing? Take for example Gavin McInnes—leader of the fascist ‘Proud Boys’ thugs—who has called upon Trump supporters to, ‘Choke a tranny. Get your fingers around the windpipe.’ How many more friends and family will be lost to suicide, fired from jobs and thrown into homelessness, or contract HIV with no access to resources to treat it—how much of that are you willing to accept? Are you willing to accept a whole generation of us cast back into the shadows and deprived of the space and resources to realize our identities? Make no mistake, this is only just the beginning. Should we fail to stop this by driving this regime out of power, what more will we have to try and survive?”
We must not allow any of this to become normal. But it has become normal. The great barrage of outrages has a numbing effect. It is meant to overwhelm you and silence you, and it will not stop unless we drive out the regime that is accelerating a fascist locomotive rolling over the social progress of the last fifty years. All of us need to come together to say No! We will not go back! In the name of humanity, we will not accept a fascist America.
We honor the heroes of Stonewall. Let’s be like them.
Coco Das (@coco_das) is a contributing editor to RefuseFascism.org