2023 Pride Month Backlash: Why Is It So Controversial Right Now?

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Why is Pride Month so controversal this year? Are Americans becoming more homophopic?

Pride Month events and support for the LGBTQ+ community are meeting with protests and backlash this year. Companies such as Target and Cracker Barrel are coming under fire for their public LGBTQ+ support.

In this article we’ll explain why we may be seeing Pride Month backlash and what it looks like.

LGBTQ+ Community Faces a Climate of Fear 

Pride Month, observed annually in June, commemorates the LGBTQ+ community’s history, progress, and ongoing fight for equality. Throughout its 50-year history, Pride Month celebrations have often been dampened by political controversy and protests—but this year, Pride Month’s backlash is worse than usual. In fact, the political climate for the LGBTQ+ community has worsened recently, causing Pride events in some cities to be canceled due to threats of violence. 

Origins and Evolution of Pride Month 

Pride Month traces its roots to the Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969, when LGBTQ+ people fought back against police brutality at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The resistance sparked six days of protests and clashes with the NYPD, and the resulting publicity thrust gay rights into the spotlight. 

The following year on the anniversary of that incident, the first Pride marches were organized to commemorate the uprising and serve as expressions of visibility, unity, and resistance. New York City’s first pride parade is estimated to have included 3,000 to 5,000 people marching the 51-block route from Greenwich Village to Central Park.

Over time, Pride parades and other events grew in number and garnered increasing public support, and in 2000 Bill Clinton declared June to be Pride Month. Since then, Pride Month has grown into a global movement featuring carnivalesque parades and other festivities, educational programming, and political activism.

Backlash and Political Controversy

The LGBTQ+ rights movement has faced backlash and political controversy throughout its history. Opponents often argue that the celebration of LGBTQ+ identity and rights is unnecessary, claiming it promotes a specific agenda or undermines traditional values. Additionally, legislators and conservative groups have sometimes attempted to restrict or undermine LGBTQ+ rights, fueling division and resistance, sometimes resulting in stochastic terrorism.

This year, in the months leading up to June, drag entertainers and events have been the target of numerous threats of violence since several states have launched campaigns against drag shows.

Threats and Protests Over Pride Events

In one incident, a Pride month celebration in St.Cloud, Florida was canceled because of concerns over safety due to threats coming in the wake of several anti-LGBTQ+ laws signed by Governor DeSantis this year. In May, a digital traffic sign in nearby Orlando was hacked and programmed to read “KILL ALL GAYS.” 

Meanwhile, in suburban Glendale, California, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police in riot gear as school board officials met to vote on whether the district should recognize June as Pride Month.

Protests Against Corporate Support 

In the corporate world, retail companies have also been facing backlash from customers and the conservative media for showing support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. 

Target expressed concern about its employees’ safety after several locations received bomb threats and customers exhibited threatening behavior toward employees over Pride-themed merchandise. Their Pride merchandise includes children’s books about transgender issues and gender fluidity. In response to the backlash, Target moved their Pride merchandise to the back of the store, although a spokeswoman stated that the company remains committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

Cracker Barrel restaurant, normally a conservative favorite, has also come under fire after a Facebook post showing an image of a rainbow-colored rocking chair outside one of its stores.

Support for LGBTQ+ Rights Remains Strong

Despite the controversy around Pride Month, Gallup polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of Americans support LGBTQ+ equality in all areas of life—from marriage equality to opportunities in the workplace and government.

This data suggests that:

  1. Current opposition may be focused more on issues of gender identity and expression than sexual orientation.
  2. The backlash is likely coming from a vocal minority, spurred by political leaders and social media. 
  3. The historical shift in cultural attitudes toward the “LGB” community may forecast a similar shift over time toward the “TQ+” population. 

Despite the instances of opposition to Pride Month, support for the LGBTQ+ community is also evident.

2023 Pride Month Backlash: Why Is It So Controversial Right Now?

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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