A little while ago, on the 31st of August a bizarre event took place in Boston: despite the overwhelming opposition, in the capital of one of the most liberal states, Massachusetts, which was the first to authorise gay marriage, the first so-called ‘Straight Pride’, a ‘celebration of heterosexuality’ was held.
Despite the organisers going on and on about the ‘unfairness of only homosexuality being celebrated’ it’s obvious that the motivation behind the event was not celebration. Rather, the organisers’ goal seemed to be scaring Boston’s large LGBTQ+ community and expressing their support for Trump’s nationalist-racist-sexist policies. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same organisers were behind last Summer’s far-right rally in Charlottesville, where a car ploughed into the crowd of counter-protesters, killing left-wing activist Heather Heyer.
The city of Boston didn’t even want to grant permission to the Straight Pride, not the least of all because of the huge uproar the announcement caused. Why the event was green-lit at all, remains a mystery. The symbolic meaning of the decision is immense: in Trump’s America, very thinly veiled homophobia is allowed to be expressed even in Boston.
As it became readily apparent, this was not a celebration of heterosexuality, but a demonstration against LGBTQ+, non-white, non-right-wing people. Naturally, the Straight Pride did not celebrate the diversity of heterosexual love, but the white, straight, anti-immigration sexism as a life-style and as politics. The group of 40-50 people consisted mainly of middle-aged or older men, as far as I could tell all white. They were waving pro-Trump or American flags, threatening the counter-protesters or holding nationalistic and homophobic signs.
The counter-protesters by far out-numbered the ‘rally’. The best of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community, as well as a large crowd of those with any amount of humanity in their hearts showed up. Queer people were singing, the Antifa used megaphones to try and drown out the marchers of the Straight Pride. Many were chanting ‘Boston hates you’, yet none of the counter-protesters got aggressive. The nationalists, while they kept threatening the counter-protesters, did not try to get physical either, as they were largely outnumbered.
Even so, this event was traumatic for me. As I mentioned, it’s inexplicable that Boston would authorise this evet. I expect the explanation must be connected to the police presence deployed to protect the Straight Pride. Even though the counter-protesters didn’t try to harm anyone, the already huge numbers of Boston police – hundreds of them, in my estimation – were aided by other departments of the Massachusetts police: the riot police, droves of cops on motorbikes and – I’m not exaggerating – tanks. I saw them with my own eyes.
Why so many of them? It seems like they had to protect the homophobic, racist and nationalist scum against the counter-protesters, who stood by love and acceptance, and barely showed the signs of aggression. Even though the police couldn’t always separate the demonstrators and the counter-protesters, many counter-protesters were arrested, some pepper-sprayed. None of the Straight Pride people were. I personally witnessed multiple instances of police coordinating to encircle or fence in groups of counter-protesters, or suddenly cutting through the crowd in an impromptu biker-rally. These demonstrations of force seemed pointless, and if they did serve a purpose, it remained a mystery. Most of the time after an operation like this the police simply left, presumably relocating to another part of the event.
Why were there so many cops? Why the riot police? Why did they arrest counter-protesters, why would they assault the singing crowd? And why was this disgraceful, shameful Straight Pride even allowed to happen? It’s because in Trump’s America the government is aware that the greatest threat to its nationalistic, xenophobic, racist and anti-democratic policies are the LGBTQ+ people, the human-rights activists, the leftists who will not stand for sexism and racism. Trump’s hate mongering policies found the natural allies of its ideology, its perfect personification in far-right, American neo-Nazi groups.
We must know who we’re up against. When Black people, Mexicans, immigrants, Romani and migrants are being attacked, we too are being attacked. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, but the reverse is also true: human rights are an LGBTQ+ cause. Always, everywhere. While others are being oppressed, we cannot be free either. We must stand together.
Translated by Zsófia Ziaja