GOP’s New Strategy: Use Libs of TikTok falsehoods to target LGBTQ+ nonprofit federal funding

The U.S. Capitol building

Every LGBTQ+ nonprofit in the nation should take note of something that happened last week and put it on their radar screen, as it very likely will put them under the microscope when applying for federal funding. Simply put: the Republicans have found a new way to go after our community by taking away funding from Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center. This center, operating since 1975, has been crucial in providing meals to HIV/AIDS patients, counseling homeless youth, and offering senior programs, job training, and various other services to low-income individuals. Additionally, it has served as a vital meeting point for numerous community organizations. And next up on the Republican hit list could be your LGBTQ+ health clinic, your HIV/AIDS service organization, your LGBTQ+ youth programs, or even LGBTQ+ affordable senior housing.

I’m not sure how many millions of our tax dollars go to LGBTQ+ nonprofits, but what I can tell you, as a comparison, is that the largest federal nonprofit funding goes to the Catholic Church and its affiliates. The Associated Press puts the number at 1.4 billion and that was for COVID alone. We get a drop in the bucket, and they are attempting to take that away. Here’s how it happened and how it can happen in your city.

A grant from the federal government to William Way LGBT Community Center was withdrawn from the funding system because Libs of TikTok, a far-right social media account, suggested in a Twitter/X post that the community center was allowing an independent organization to rent space from the community center to use it for kink sex parties. That was false. No sex took place and there were only discussions of sexuality. The community center rents space to outside organizations who abide by their rules, which includes no sex in the building. What those trolls didn’t say was that the group that rented the space wasn’t an LGBTQ+ organization. It had many heterosexual members.

Here’s the point: If your organization is renting space to third-party organizations, the Republicans might use those programs to defund you. They might go after a safe-sex lecture, for example. The right wing has a fascination with our sexuality, and they like to paint us with that brush only. Maybe that is why there is a need for sex-positive seminars in our community?

After the Libs of TikTok social media post went viral, it was just like an old Keystone Cops movie. After all, this did take place in Pennsylvania, the Keystone State. First, Sen. John Fetterman, the most progressive U.S. Senator, wrote the committee rescinding his support. When his rescinding letter was posted, he said he had nothing to do with it and that his staff did it without his knowledge. 

Then Sen. Bob Casey also withdrew his support, stating, “That consenting adults have the right to do whatever they want in their free time, but these types of appropriations projects warrant the highest level of scrutiny on behalf of taxpayers.” And that caused it to die in a Senate committee. These are two senators who support LGBTQ+ marriage and marriage equality and have been endorsed by LGBTQ+ political organizations. Here’s the clincher: Sen. Bob Casey is up for re-election, and it’s the one seat they believe they can pick up. So I wasn’t surprised when less than 24 hours later, I received a text from a major supporter of Casey’s Republican opponent. It asked me, “Are you signed up for McCormick now?” referring to David McCormick, the Republican candidate running against Casey. And that Republican candidate is seeking LGBTQ+ support. He even signed onto an amicus brief supporting marriage equality. My reply was, “Is he willing to commit to funding the community center?”

This happened in a state with two democratic senators — one progressive, the other centrist. Will Republicans do this in your state with your funding request? You’d better hope not. But if they do, you’d better hope that you have supporters willing to defend you to the end and stand up to the homophobes and transpbobes who treat our lives like a game. Otherwise, you can kiss that funding goodbye.

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