Predators, Prey, and Pride

An attendee at Philly Pride 2022. (Photo by Kelly Burkhardt.)

Spurred on by a Twitter account known for its provocative nature, @libsoftiktok, a cadre of “Proud Boys” members stormed into the San Lorenzo library in California. Their target, a “Drag Queen Story Hour” event hosted by local drag queen Panda Dulce. 

About 10 or so of the group marched in, calling the host and others homophobic and transphobic slurs. One of the men was reported by KRON 4 as wearing a t-shirt showing an assault rifle with the slogan, “Kill Your Local Pedophile.”

Dulce was escorted away by security, and local deputies de-escalated the situation. 

The harassment in San Lorenzo, plus the arrest of 31 members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho intent on starting a riot at the city’s pride event, point to a new, more violent anti-LGBTQ movement in the United States. While a clear escalation, is also very much in line with the rise in “Don’t Say Gay” laws as well as the countless attacks on transgender people in 2022. 

The actions are probably best typified by the words of another who was present in Coeur d’Alene, and part of a separate protest of the event.

“The drag queen thing, they’re preying on our children and that’s my target,” said Tom Meyer, who was reported by Idaho Statesman as being part of a group holding signs and singing hymns as a counter protest against the pride event. “What they’re doing is they are grooming children for pedophilia in my belief.”

These events fits a pattern that has been growing for months, of equating LGBTQ people — particularly transgender people and drag queens — as being “groomers” preying on young children. The whole notion seems to tie back into 1970s-era notions of recruitment of — and sexual activity with — children by LGBTQ people. 

I have recently been reading the latest book by Julia Serano, who is probably best known for her treatise on sexism and femininity, “Whipping Girl.” Her latest, “Sexed Up,” is an even deeper dive, focusing on how society portrays sexuality.

One of the key points she covers is a view of sex as “predator” versus “prey.”  Allow me to quote Serano.

“While our existence imposes no harm upon others, many people nevertheless view and treat LGBTQIA+ people as though we constitute a threat,” says Serano. “What we threaten, in their minds, is the notion of perfect “opposite sexes” and the sanctity of the Predator/Prey script.”

I’ve also talked several times — in this very column — about how people who are not trans, being unable to quite understand why someone would transition, tend to assume it being for either a deception purpose, or for a fetishistic one. This is where every bad “person dresses as the opposite sex to land a job” style movie comes from. It’s also where the belief that trans people are out to “trick” someone into sex with them. 

This also sounds a lot like what Meyer is alluding to above. 

If you view sex as having a predator and their prey, and if you think that LGBTQ people are inherently sexual and deceptive, then you will assume us interacting with, well anyone, is setting up that predator/prey dichotomy.

I mentioned above that these actions are an escalation of months of actions. In recent months, we’ve seen LGBTQ and, in particular, transgender people being treated as groomers usually contorting the term far from its initial meanings. Aside from this notion that having a drag queen read a story to kids at the library as being somehow pedophilic, you also see young, mainly trans masculine people having access to appropriate support and resources treated the same. 

This is where Texas’ attempts to treat parents who support their trans children as abusers comes from, as well as other states moves to criminalize trans affirming medical care. 

I think this is going to get worse, too.

We’ve seen these moves against transgender people and others ramp up at light speed this year, and every move begets a bigger one. With moves against “drag queen story hours” as well as attempts to bar children access to even kid-friendly drag shows, there is a clear path to criminalize any trans presentation in public. 

Anti-LGBTQ factions do not recognize a single point of light between drag presentation and trans people, and if you can’t see how they’ll turn this into preventing trans people from having custody of their own kids, as well as being in places where children may be present, they you’re not seeing the big picture. 

Their goal is the eradication go LGBTQ people as a whole, and they will use any avenue to do so. If they can whip up an Anita Bryant-era “Gays recruit” frenzy to formed violence against us, they’ll apparently be happy to do so. 

That these actions in Coeur d’Alene and San Lorenzo occurred on the 6th anniversary of the Pulse massacre should remind us all how fragile our community is right now. 

What’s next is going to be up to us. This pride month, we need to be more vigilant than ever, because complacency is not going to serve us — not with those standing against us so willing to resort to violence. 

We need to stand together, arm in arm, and let them know that we will not stand for it. We are not predators, nor will we be their prey. 

Gwen Smith highly recommends “Sexed Up” by Julia Serano. You’ll find her at www.gwensmith.com/.