Why the far right is obsessed with drag queens

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On Tuesday, a suspect accused of fatally shooting five people at a Colorado Springs queer nightclub in November was loaded with hate crimes, assault and murder. Elsewhere, armed protesters have been intimidating drag artists. And meanwhile, some states have banned gender affirming health care Y LGBTQ inclusive instruction in public schools. Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney who has written by the atlanticargues that the LGBTQ community is threatened in part because of broader anti-democratic currents.

But first, here are three new stories from the atlantic.


stoking fear

Kelli Maria Korducki: There have been a recent series of high-profile attacks on queer community spaces in this country, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment it is on the rise in the media and online, including from right-wing politicians. What’s going on?

Chase Strangio: There has been deep-seated structural discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people for centuries in the United States and around the world. So while it’s not new, I think what we’re seeing right now is kind of an escalation in the types of rhetoric directed at LGBTQ people coming from public and private actors, which of course results in an escalation of violence and extralegal discrimination.

Korducky: What is driving this escalation? Because right now?

Weird: I think it’s a combination of things. Part of this is a backlash to the increased visibility of LGBTQ people, as well as increased informal legal protection gained through Supreme Court victories in the Title VII and marriage cases. When you have a dynamic where people get more access to supportive public discourse, more legal protections, and increased visibility in popular culture and the media, there’s a dynamic where more people feel like they can live as themselves.

In addition to the backlash against those successes in visibility, we are seeing a resurgence of far-right politics around the world and in the United States, a rise in far-right governments and far-right non-governmental actors. And a feature of the far-right government is a kind of fixation on family control and sexuality. If you look globally, you can see that anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is increasing with the rise of fascism. You see more body and family control sites as part of far-right government projects. That’s why we’re seeing this historic moment of anti-LGBTQ backlash in the same places we’re seeing those types of governments rise up around the world.

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Korducky: Where does anti-LGBTQ messaging fall in the bigger picture of America’s culture wars?

Weird: It’s all so inextricably connected, it’s all part of a desire to control and restrict people’s sense of possibility and freedom. You can look something like [the conservative activist] Cristóbal Rufo’s campaign against what he calls “critical race theory” and related efforts to restrict historically accurate teaching in public schools, and see how that quickly morphed into the same individuals targeting drag performance, trans health careand the mention of LGBTQ people in schools.

All this can be understood in two fundamental ways. One is the simple political opportunism of trying to [mobilize] voters in the run-up to the upcoming presidential election by stoking a sense of fear, of unknown change. The second is exactly what I mentioned: the more people’s sense of possibility, expansion, and freedom can be controlled, the more governments can expand their authority over people’s lives in general. I think we’re seeing those things in dynamic interaction right now.

Korducky: There seems to be a fixation on drag storytelling hours as a potential threat, actually, to drag performance in general. What do you think of that?

Weird: The history of policing gender and criminalizing cross-dressing was always directed at trans people, but it was also directed at drag performance. We have a long history of criminal cross-dressing laws and drag performers. [have been arrested in the past]. If you really want to focus on queer and trans, then drag is a big part of that. It is a visible celebration of culture.

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That has been combined with fear and outrage from the far-right media, which has capitalized on the storied tradition of calling LGBTQ people “preparers” and saying we pose a threat to children to create this moment where We’re seeing threats to children’s hospitals, drag performance attacks, and so. Unfortunately, this is part of a long tradition of positioning queer and trans as “criminal.”

Korducky: We’ve been discussing queer and trans interchangeably, but I want to get closer to the different experience of trans people. What stage is the trans movement at right now, in terms of gaining mainstream acceptance, rights and legal protections?

Weird: On the one hand, we have made incredible progress. Even in the 15 years that I’ve been trans, the difference is unbelievable. At the same time, targeted rhetorical and government attacks are increasing dramatically. And so we have a sense of progress, but it’s hard to stay there, because there’s so much precariousness in everything that’s happening right now. The way that anti-trans antagonism has become so commonplace that people are comfortable with it, I think it’s a really scary proposition as we head into the run-up to the presidential election, especially when you consider the rise of far-right governments. in the United States and around the world.

At the same time, trans people have always existed, they have always built community, they have always built places of care, resistance and celebration. And so I feel like with more visibility in the ability to find our people, there will continue to be beautiful and thriving community spaces. Unfortunately, I think we’re also going to continue to see expansive and really concerning assaults in those spaces and in our communities.

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(Jan Büchczik)

Breakups always hurt, but you can shorten the suffering

By Arthur C. Brooks

Literature is full of brutally jilted lovers and cruelly broken hearts, be it Anna Karenina’s or Heathcliff’s in wuthering heights. But for my money, the most extreme case is Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens. High expectations. In the classic novel, she never gets over the pain of being left at the altar on her wedding day decades before. Locked away in her dark house, she describes herself to Miss Havisham as a cross between a skeleton and a wax statue, frozen in a state of traumatic rejection.

As cartoonish as these characters are, they can seem painfully realistic to readers amid the terrible heartbreak that can come when a romance ends. Miss Havisham’s fate seems plausible: never again will you see love as anything more than an exercise in futility. Little by little, of course, most people get over a breakup, move on, and eventually love someone else. However, in those first days and months, the pain may seem like it will never end.

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P.S.

On the topic of trans visibility, Chase recommends that people watch the 2020 Netflix documentary Divulgation. It draws on interviews with a variety of trans artists, activists, and thinkers to break down Hollywood’s evolving relationship with the trans community. “We’ve all internalized so much anti-trans content without realizing it,” Chase told me, “and making that exposure visible is critical to working to undo its impact.”

—Kelli

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.