PRIDE During the War for Trans Lives

This year’s pride month has been both a celebration of queerness and a battle to protect Queer and Trans people nationwide.

Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA community is fighting back with pride, even while school boards and companies across the country are caving to extremists like Moms for Liberty with huge bankrolls of dark money. Even as Philadelphia Downtown Marriott and the Museum of the American Revolution plan to host Moms for Liberty at the end of the month, tens of thousands of LGBTQIA folks and their allies came out to celebrate their unique experiences and expressions of their queerness.

Hundreds have consistently shown up since April to tell the Marriot and Museum of the American Revolution that hosting far-right extremists like Moms for Liberty is never acceptable.

“Philly is an LGBTQ town; Philly is a Trans town,” said Sam Rise, a local legend in the LGBTQIA organizing community. “Philly is an AAPI town; it’s a Black, Brown, Indigenous town. It’s an immigrant town, and we are a liberated town.”

Protesters demand Marriott not host extremists Moms for Liberty in Philadelphia, PA on June 2, 2023.

Moms for Liberty consistently dehumanizes the LGTBQIA community and anyone supporting them by labeling them pedophiles and groomers.

“Moms for Liberty is a divisive group with discriminatory rhetoric and practices that promotes harmful policies that target vulnerable communities, especially the LGBTQ+ community,” said State Senator Nikil Saval reiterating the sentiments he made in an April 20th letter to Marriott urging the hotel to reconsider hosting the group.

Moms for Liberty plans to target at least three branches of the Philadelphia Free Library during their convention, according to social media posts from the group, Philadelphia City Institute, Independence Library, and two departments of the main library on the Parkway (the Children’s Department and the Field Teen Center).

Protesters demand Marriott not host extremists Moms for Liberty in Philadelphia, PA on June 2, 2023.

According to several sources in the anti-extremist movement, Moms for Liberty will publicly state several places they say they plan to protest against and then show up at alternative locations to throw off counter-protesters; groups are planning to be at likely targets of the Moms for Liberty throughout the city while they are here to rally counter protests swiftly quickly.

“We are aware of their plans and are sending out information to our branches on how to de-escalate should the need arise,” said Trenton Smiley, director of communications for The Free Library. “If protesters enter the premises and disrupt events, staff may call the police.”

“They’re holding their hate convention here to send the Trans community a message; you aren’t safe anywhere, not even in Philly,” said Henderson, which has a sizable Black and LGBTQIA communities. “We want to send them a different message; Philly has the backs of our LGBTQIA community no matter where you go in our city.”

More than 550 bills have been introduced across 49 states, 79 bills have passed into law, and 373 remain active in the legislative process, including 27 national anti-Trans bills. These bills include anti-Trans sports and bathroom bills, anti-gender-affirming healthcare, and anti-drag show bills, to name a few.

“Fascism is here in the States,” said Henderson. “The number of Anti-Trans bills across the country has exploded in the last three years, but especially so after Dobbs, and Moms for Liberty has been at the heart of the rhetoric behind it, and their funders like the Heritage Foundation have been at the forefront of getting these laws passed.”

The Dobbs decision created the environment to restrict all rights for women and the LGBTQIA community.

“We certainly have to do more to build supportive communities for all of our LGBTQIA family, they need to know they’re loved and valued, and that’s one of the things I think things like PRIDE 365 and the festival do,” said Jazmyn Henderson, an organizer with ACT-UP. “It’s vital for Trans people right now; we’re under attack in every state, and these hate mongers are coming into our sanctuaries. They won’t rest until we’re entirely erased from society.”

Protesters demand Marriott not host extremists Moms for Liberty in Philadelphia, PA, on June 2, 2023.

About Cory Clark 68 Articles
Cory Clark is a photojournalist and writer who focuses on human rights and other social issues. His work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Philly Magazine and Fortune. He has worked as a freelancer for Getty Images, The Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse for many years. Currently, he serves as the Senior Reporter for both Revive Local and the New MainStream Press.

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