The road to equality doesn’t end, and once you’ve accepted that reality, it becomes easier to walk it. The perfect paradise where nobody is wronged, where everyone gets treated fairly and receives the same opportunity, will never happen. But that doesn’t mean that fighting for that vision isn’t worthwhile.
We’ve had several frustrating events in the first half of 2023. The Supreme Court ruled that many businesses can discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the basis of religion. The case itself wasn’t even real. The alleged violation did not happen. The highest court in the land, ruling on an imaginary incident, made the real world harsher for LGBTQ+ people.
That same weekend, Moms for Liberty swarmed Philadelphia with their anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and penchant for fake victimization. The local LGBTQ+ community did their best to stand up to the hate group by hosting daily protests and by calling out M4L members when they were spotted around town. (But it seemed like most M4L members were, literally, too scared to leave the confines of their barricaded hotel.)
Then we have the continued push by Republicans to paint trans people as terrorists rather than the cisgender men that make up the vast majority of mass shooters.
It’s all a bit much, isn’t it? Nobody would blame you for needing a vacation from reality right now.
And yet, we must continue to press on. And we can learn things from each of those three unfortunate incidents, most importantly the importance of building and supporting your local community.
The Supreme Court ruled some businesses are within their rights to deny service to LGBTQ+ people because of religious beliefs. Fine. As stupid as the case was, there’s nothing we can do right now to change it. But what you can do is make sure that your local community has affirming businesses who support the community. What you can do is call out businesses who refuse to do business with LGBTQ+ people. It’s a shame the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t require businesses to post on their doors “Will Not Serve LGBTQ.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to make sure the community knows it and that people avoid that business at all costs.
Moms for Liberty, as harmful as they are, serve as a reminder to all people that local elections matter. They are doing the work in running for school board and winning elections. That is their right. The only way to combat that is for people who support LGBTQ+ kids to also run for school board and other local elections and to defeat those Moms for Liberty members. Otherwise, M4L will continue to ban books and worse. While the Philadelphia protests against them sent a message to the group, the only way that message will stick is if people follow through and start beating them in elections.
As for Republicans using any excuse they can to label trans people as harmful to society, there’s not much anyone can do to silence Marjorie Taylor Greene or Ted Cruz. But you absolutely can bolster trans people in your local community, and not just by calling out transphobia when you see it. Donate to organizations who work with trans people. Frequent trans-owned businesses or businesses that employ them. Buy trans art. Post trans-affirming messages that relate to your local community. Write to your local elected officials and tell them about your support. And whatever you do, make sure you are supporting local trans people. Don’t fall into the trap of listening only to the national figureheads. Your local community should be first on your mind.
Bolstering local connections will help you combat any national threat sent your way. Supporting local LGBTQ+ people will help you combat Supreme Court rulings, right-wing bigoted moms, and social media firestorms. And, more importantly, it’ll make your life that much richer, because you’ll be taking an active interest in where you live and the people who walk alongside you.