Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his 2024 bid for presidency yesterday during a botched livestream on Elon Musk’s Twitter (the once-beloved app that is now the social media equivalent of Tesla’s self-driving cars).
There are a few aspects of this event that are alarming. The first might seem unrelated, but Musk was recently a guest on Bill Mahr’s Real Time. Mahr prides himself on being a liberal-leaning centrist—which is up for debate, given some of his takes, frankly—but he looped Musk in with that identity in their interview before an applauding crowd. Musk, who self-identifies as a free speech guy and has brought back the banned accounts of Nazis (but has silenced his critics and competing companies on his platform), hosted the 2024 presidential announcement of a man who sure looks, swims, and quacks like a fascist.
When Mahr calls Musk a liberal-leaning centrist or when Twitter gives DeSantis a platform, it undermines the severity of the governor’s actions and rhetoric. It’s an attempt to make him palatable, and in a political arena where Trump has often been viewed as a political outsider, DeSantis might seem like an experienced, career-politician option, especially to Republicans, centrists, or undecideds who've denounced Trump.
All of this is to say, we cannot afford to be fooled by this kind of presentation. The LGBTQ+ community cannot afford it. There have been over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in U.S. states this year alone, many of which are copied or borrowed from Florida legislation. If we have a DeSantis presidency, we must brace ourselves for an anti-LGBTQ+, anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-reproductive rights, anti-education, anti-freedom, pro-fascist nation. Your mind will read that and reach for cognitive dissonance. I urge you to look at your own privilege. And I remind you of this famous poem, “First They Came," by Pastor Martin Niemöller:
“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.”
🏳️🌈 Florida is not a Monolith
DeSantis signed into law a bill that legalizes the kidnapping of trans children from affirming homes. This bill also makes Florida a “sanctuary state” of sorts, where trans kids can be kidnapped in other states and brought to Florida for “safety.” (You can read about this atrocity in The New Republic.)
The state also signed several sweeping bills that ban trans health care for minors and prevent nurse practitioners from providing gender-affirming care, even to adults. Eighty percent of gender-affirming care comes from nurse practitioners in Florida, making this latter restriction a huge blow for trans adults. (The Rational National)
A Florida teacher is under investigation for showing a PG-rated Disney film in her classroom because one of the cis-male main characters mentions having a crush on another boy. The parent who complained about the “incident” stated, “I’m not going to stand by and allow this minority to infiltrate our schools.” Such a statement harkens back to segregationist America. (Ring of Fire)
Also from The New Republic, in the midst of these anti-trans bills, a digital sign was spotted on a highway that read, “Kill All Gays.” Every single day that we don’t speak out against this rhetoric is a day of complicit acceptance.
But we must remember that Florida is not a monolith. This anti-trans rhetoric and legislation is occurring across the country—in states such as Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Montana (Daily Montanan), Kentucky (Assigned Media), Nebraska (Nebraska Examiner), and several others—and beyond our borders, like in the U.K. As stated in QueerAF, “Though Florida gets a lot of attention for leading the way, it is not alone as a wave of anti-trans and LGBTQIA+ legislation sweeps the U.S...Whether you like it or not, we borrow a lot of our culture from the U.S. What happens in politics there is often repeated in the U.K.”
In Nebraska, State Sen. Megan Hunt, who is a queer woman and mother of a trans son, made a compelling and heartfelt call-to-action to her constituents who expressed disappointment in missing major family events due to continued filibusters on an anti-trans and -abortion bill. She said, “I’m asking you to love your family more than you hate mine. If your family wants you home, maybe you should do that. If you want to go see your grandson graduate from preschool, you should do that. Instead, you are here to drag out this session because you won’t come off this bill that hurts my son. You hate him more than you love your own family and that’s why you’re here.” (The Majority Report)
🏳️🌈 History Repeats Itself…If We Let It
All of these anti-LGBTQ+ laws are made possible by a calculated disinformation campaign meant to instill fear and confusion about our community. Similar tactics were used in Nazi Germany and in the U.S. during the Cold War. According to the Louisiana Illuminator,
“A questionable connection between communists and ‘homosexuals’ arose from the following ‘reasoning.’ Communists would threaten to out ‘homosexuals,’ blackmailing them into giving state secrets to communist governments. Therefore, ‘homosexuals’ posed a national security risk. This was called ‘The Lavender Scare.’ To discredit LGBTQ+ people and to justify persecuting them, they were called ‘perverts” and “sexual deviants.’ They were portrayed as sexual predators who wanted to corrupt young men and boys. Once people were outed, their job prospects dried up. This senseless discrimination ruined lives. And took lives. This hysteria occurred despite no proof that a queer person ever cooperated with a foreign government.”
🏳️🌈 The Hypocrisy is Staggering
A Texas Republican who has been at the forefront of drag bans, alleging that drag shows “groom children” just got expelled for…grooming a teenager. (The Humanist Report)
A video has surfaced of GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s boyfriend in drag. A staunch critic of drag and trans rights, Taylor Greene is defending her boyfriend, which is just an audible way of saying, “It’s okay when we do it!” (The New Republic).
🏳️🌈 These Bans and Disinformation Campaigns Impact Every Aspect of Our Lives…
🏳️🌈 Let’s Take a Breather…
❣️ A pharmacy in Nevada is partnering with The Center, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, to make health care and medicine more accessible for the LGBTQ+ community. (Nevada Current)
❣️ In Powell River, Canada, trans folks and advocates are creating a safe space. (The Tyee)
❣️ South Dakota is one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ states in the nation, but a group of politicians is aiming to change that by recruiting more LGBTQ+ politicians. (South Dakota Searchlight)
❣️ A Pride event is scheduled in an unlikely location: rural Ohio. (The Buckeye Flame)
❣️ Teenagers organized a trans prom in Washington D.C. on May 22nd. How’s that for trans joy? (The New Republic)
❣️ Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that would allow teachers to misgender and dead-name their students. (AZ Mirror)
❣️ A national group of lawmakers is banding together to denounce the flood of anti-LGBTQ+ laws. (Daily Montanan)
❣️ Protests in Montgomery show LGBTQ+ Alabamans that they’re not alone. (Alabama Reflector)
Next time I see you, it’ll be on June 1 for a brief newsletter to kick off Pride Month. Remember, your existence is joy. You’re deserving of safety, happiness, love, and ancestry. Let us build such a world that allows for it.
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