by Sarah Moore
Anti-LGBTQ Extremism Analyst for ADL and GLAAD
*CONTENT WARNING* The discussion below includes hateful terms and phrases.
Pride Month is a time of celebration and remembrance for the LGBTQ community. Despite record high support for LGBTQ people in the US, there remain those who seek to disrupt, ban, and even attack expressions of queer joy. In fact, GLAAD and its partners at ADL documented at least 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism nationwide during Pride 2023, including the murder of a woman at a gas station in Texas by a stranger who had allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs.
These numbers come on the heels of a newly released report by ADL and GLAAD, which tracked 356 anti-LGBTQ incidents in the US between June 2022 and April 2023.
The incident count recorded for Pride 2023 (145 incidents) is more than three-times the count documented during Pride 2022 (48 incidents) and a record high for incidents over the last 13 months. Pride 2023’s numbers included 102 incidents of harassment, 37 incidents of vandalism, and six incidents of assault.
Breaking it down further, ADL and GLAAD found a recurrence of many of the same trends witnessed over the past year in the incidents seen during Pride 2023. These include incidents targeting drag events and performers, out elected officials, religious institutions, and symbols of the LGBTQ community like Pride flags.
Many of these incidents weaponized baseless and harmful conspiracy theories, such as false claims of “grooming” by LGBTQ adults or egregiously inaccurate allegations of “child mutilation” in gender-affirming care. Perpetrators of anti-LGBTQ incidents also often targeted other marginalized communities like people of color and the Jewish community while attacking the LGBTQ community.
To exemplify these trends, highlighted below are a few of the cases of assault, vandalism, and harassment targeting the LGBTQ community during June 2023.
- June 2, 2023: A man allegedly shot and killed a passerby after yelling an anti-gay slur at a gas station in Cedar Park, Texas. The perpetrator had reportedly witnessed the victim interact with her partner in the moments prior to the attack, potentially inspiring the shooting.
Akira Ross was shot and killed in front of her girlfriend at a Cedar Park gas station on June 2. https://t.co/cz04S9oBp2
— KVUE News (@KVUE) June 9, 2023
- June 4, 2023: A suspect used a BB gun to shoot people from a vehicle while they waited in line for an LGBTQ club in Kansas City, Missouri. At least one clubgoer was injured in the attack.
- June 12, 2023: A man allegedly assaulted a passerby while yelling anti-gay slurs in New York City, breaking the victim’s nose.
- June 17, 2023: A person threw a lit firecracker into a crowd at a Pride Event in Hermosa Beach, California. The firework went off, injuring at least two people.
- June 8, 2023: Employees found anti-LGBTQ graffiti on the walls of a local church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. The graffiti included: “all f*** should die” and “God does not love you.”
- June 10 – June 18, 2023: Three suspects damaged multiple Pride flags outside of the Stonewall National Monument, an LGBTQ landmark, in New York City. The vandals snapped the flag poles and threw the flags on the ground. Pride flags at the landmark were also vandalized twice more over the span of eight days.
- June 25, 2023: Suspects stole three flags, including a Pride flag, a Black Lives Matter flag, and another progressive rainbow flag, from a church in Spokane Valley, Washington. They also used diesel fuel to spell out “Lev 2013” on the church’s lawn, which references Leviticus 20:13 – a Bible verse frequently used to condemn LGBTQ people.
- June 30, 2023: Two people stole a Pride flag from a private residence and spraypainted a swastika on the residents’ door in Owensboro, Kentucky.
- June 2, 2023: An out gay councilmember reported anti-LGBTQ and QAnon-affiliated messages left on his office door in New York City. The messages read: “Fuk DQSH [Drag Queen Story Hour],” “NCSWIC [Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming – a popular QAnon phrase],” “Pedo [Pedophile] Cover Up” and “Defund Kw33nz [Drag Queens].”
- June 10, 2023: Approximately 12 extremists associated with the neo-Nazi Order of the Black Sun held an anti-LGBTQ demonstration on an overpass in Orlando, Florida. They held swastika-covered flags and signs reading: “Destroy all pedophiles.” On the same day, the group also protested near the entrance to Walt Disney World in Orlando, holding flags adorned with swastikas and yelling racist and homophobic slurs.
- June 10, 2023: Bomb threats were emailed to a number of LGBTQ-related targets nationwide, including LGBTQ lawmakers and influencers, as well as buildings affiliated with brands like Anheuser Busch and Target which were targeted over their Pride merchandise collections and inclusive advertisement campaigns.
- June 18, 2023: Approximately 12 extremists associated with the white supremacist Nationalist Social Club (NSC-131) protested a drag show in Concord, New Hampshire. At the event, protestors were filmed giving a Nazi salute and shouting “off our streets!” while banging on the venue’s window. They also held a banner that read “Defend White Communities” with Xs through the Pride Flag, Black Lives Matter symbol, and anarchist flag.
- June 23, 2023: Approximately 11 people associated with the antisemitic Goyim Defense League (GDL) held a demonstration outside of a synagogue in Macon, Georgia. They proceeded to shout antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ, and racist slurs, pass out flyers with extremist content, and hung an anti-LGBTQ effigy from a nearby street sign.
In the face of rising anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism, we must all work together to safeguard and uplift the LGBTQ community. Below are ways you can help:
- Report anti-LGBTQ incidents through ADL’s Incident Reporting Form.
- Flag anti-LGBTQ content to social media platforms with the Cyber Safety Action Guide.
- Urge Congress to support funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program here.
- Protect yourself and others online with the LGBTQ Digital Safety Guide.
- Educate yourself on these issues through the Hub of Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate & Extremism.
The research in this article was made possible thanks to a partnership between ADL and GLAAD focused on countering anti-LGBTQ extremism and hate. Click here to learn more about this critical partnership.