June 15th arson fire on 31st Street in Baltimore – one of a surge of anti-gay attacks around the world since the pandemic


Four-fold increase from 2020 to 2021, with 2022 worst year yet

The June 15th fire on 31st Street in Baltimore that was started when Pride flags were burned, is one of many throughout the country this year. Greg Owen writes for LGBTQ Nation that in the wake of a record number of reported incidents of violence and harassment at Pride celebrations this year, a new study verifies the sense on the street: anti-LGBTQ mobilization increased by over four times from 2020 to 2021, with 2022 on track to be the worst year yet. The study by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) – a disaggregated data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping project – found that incidents of political violence targeting the LGBTQ community this year have already exceeded the total number of attacks reported in 2021. Nine times as many anti-LGBTQ demonstrations were reported in 2021 relative to 2020, with at least 15% turning violent or destructive.

Far-right militias and militant social movements increased their engagement in anti-LGBTQ demonstrations sevenfold in 2021, from two events in 2020 to 14 last year. Their engagement in anti-LGBTQ events in 2022 continued. Denial of LGBTQ rights has become catnip for the ultra-MAGA crowd, whipping up age-old prejudices into a fresh slurry of hateful rhetoric, harassment, threats, and violence. Freed from facts by Trump’s mind-numbing Big Election Lie and amplified online by social media accounts like LibsofTikTok, anti-LGBTQ mobilization has become a cross-pollinating LBGTQ nightmare.

These are the incidents of political violence and harassment at Pride celebrations in 2022 that we know about:

Dallas – June 4th: The first Saturday in June saw a group of militant trolls in MAGA gear turn up with a bullhorn at a family-friendly fundraiser called “Drag the Kids to Pride,” harassing attendees with accusations of “grooming” and child abuse

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – June 11th: Police in Idaho arrested 31 members of the Texas-based white supremacist group Patriot Front on misdemeanor criminal conspiracy charges after police stopped their U-Haul truck near a “Pride in the Park” event. Video shows police opening the U-Haul to reveal members packed inside. The group is known for stealing and burning Pride flags and pro-LGBTQ signs, and posting video of their actions. In the park itself, dozens of white supremacist Groypers held a prayer circle to “distract” attendees from the “satanist” Pride celebration.

Jacksonville – June 11th: Provocateurs associated with local neo-Nazi group NatSoc Florida demonstrated outside a Hamburger Mary’s restaurant, wearing shirts with swastikas and holding signs reading, “Child groomers work here.”

Arlington, Texas – June 12th: An adults-only Disney Drag Brunch was the target of a protest organized by the far-right anti-LGBTQ group Protect Texas Kids and joined by at least seven Proud Boys. There were no children present.

Atlanta – June 12th: A Georgia Youth Justice Coalition Pride event scheduled for June 12th was canceled due to “a credible death threat” made by “an anonymous individual targeting the rally’s location, time, and date,” according to a statement from event organizers.

Mahwah, New Jersey – June 13th: White supremacist group White Lives Matter New Jersey protested a drag event during Mahwah’s Pride celebration, with one individual displaying a sign reading, “Hands off kids.”

June 15th arson fire on 31st Street in Baltimore – one of a surge of anti-gay attacks around the world since the pandemic
June 15th arson fire on 31st Street in Baltimore – one of a surge of anti-gay attacks around the world since the pandemic – credit: Jim Becker

Baltimore – June 15th: The 31st Street fire.

San Lorenzo, California – June 18th: In the San Francisco Bay Area, a group of men displaying Proud Boy colors stormed a Drag Queen Story Hour at the San Lorenzo Library shouting homophobic and transphobic threats after anti-LGBTQ LibsofTikTok scowl Chaya Raichik posted information about the event online.

Wilmington, North Carolina – June 21st: Fifteen masked members of the Cape Fear Proud Boys staged a demonstration outside a local library where a Pride-themed story time event was being held, and were later allowed inside by New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

McKinney, Texas – June 25th: A Pride-themed Family Story Time event at the Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library was the target of a Proud Boys mobilization, which included pro-Trump protesters and members of the hate group the Three Percenters. They reportedly wore tactical gear and were armed with bear mace. A group of counter-protesters formed a corridor shielding parents and children, and cheered them on to drown out the offenders.

Broward County, Florida – June 25th: In Wilton Manors, an LGBTQ enclave near Fort Lauderdale, a Florida man wearing a “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirt was arrested after brandishing a loaded gun outside a popular gay bar.

Sparks, Nevada – June 26th: A group of Proud Boys mobilized to protest LGBTQ rights at a drag queen story hour in Sparks, near Reno.

New York City – June 26th: With tensions high following the fatal shootings in Oslo, a crowd gathered for Pride in Washington Square Park stampeded after a series of small explosions was heard across the square. “After an investigation, it was determined that the sound was fireworks set off at the location,” police said. “No shots fired.”

San Francisco – June 26th: Officers patrolling the Civic Center area, where the San Francisco Pride Festival is held, responded to reports of a shooting in the late afternoon but were “unable to locate any victims or witnesses,” according to a spokesperson and LGBTQ liaison for the department. “At this time, it does not appear that there was any merit to a shooting in the area, and officers remain on scene to ensure safety and security of Pride events,” she said.

• Internationally, there were many attacks. In Oslo, Norway, Pride was canceled after a gunman opened fire outside multiple bars, killing two and injuring 21, after a queer venue in the capital was already the target of a deadly attack. Bratislava, Slovakia, mourned the loss of two individuals shot outside an LGBT venue in an act of far-right extremism. A queer rights activist and journalist was tortured and murdered by relatives in Azerbaijan, sparking a public outcry. In Istanbul, Pride parade at Boğaziçi University was violently broken up by authorities, with dozens of students arrested by riot police. A fatal attack was carried out on a trans man defending two women at a Pride parade in Germany. (LGBTQ Nation – Greg Owen at Lgbtqnation.com/2022/07/violent-attacks-pride-events-increased-2022-16-know/)