In North Carolina and beyond, the LGBTQ+ community is facing unprecedented legislative attacks. Across the nation, lawmakers are introducing bills that ban life-saving medical care for trans people, restrict or ban drag performances, and erase LGBTQ+ identities from school curriculum. The ACLU is already tracking over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session. But the threats facing our community go beyond policy, with far-right extremist groups targeting us in our own spaces and communities with protests and violence. 

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is rooted in an extremist far-right ideology that frames queer and trans lives as a political and cultural threat. It is no coincidence that this ideology results in violence against the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, statistics show us that violence against the queer community has worsened in recent years. In 2021, fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming individuals increased, numbering in the 50s. In 2022, the number was at least 38. Here in North Carolina, we have seen several trans women targeted by violence in the past few years. 

These attacks on our community are not random. They are part of a larger rise in far-right extremist movements and ideologies. The rhetoric that characterized Trump’s campaign for presidency ranged from white supremacist to ableist to homophobic and transphobic. And it emboldened far-right extremists to organize protests and threaten violence against marginalized communities, particularly people of color and queer and trans folks. 

The far-right, neo-fascist group the Proud Boys are a prominent example of this trend. Originating in 2016, the hate group received a shout-out from Trump during the 2020 presidential debates. The Proud Boys have staged anti-Black Lives Matters protests, promoted white nationalism, and instigated violence. They were also implicated in the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. 

According to Vice, The Proud Boys shifted much of their focus to anti-LGBTQ action in 2022, targeting nightclubs, drag shows, and other public events put on by the queer community. Here in North Carolina, the queer and trans communities have been vulnerable to the Proud Boys’ attacks. In February, the hate group showed up at a school board meeting in New Hanover to express their opposition to a trans-inclusive sports policy the board voted to reverse.

Throughout the U.S., extremists are increasingly targeting drag shows to express their anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. In North Carolina, the Proud Boys disrupted a Drag Brunch in Sanford County with a protest in November. Far-right extremists also targeted a drag show in Southern Pines that was scheduled for December, and their protests were linked to the attack on Moore County’s power grid that month.

These attacks are becoming all too common. A GLAAD report found 141 incidents in 2022 of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting specific drag events. These included protests on Pride events as well as campaign ads promoting dangerous rhetoric about drag performers. North Carolina and Texas were at the top of the list of states with the most attacks on drag events, with GLAAD documenting 10 attacks in North Carolina. 

In conjunction with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, protests and threats of violence targeting our communities are a threat to trans and queer lives. Trans and queer folks should feel safe in public spaces and safe to express themselves freely. Moreover, queer spaces are ever-important at a time when our identities are constantly under attack. Whether at a drag show, a pride festival, or the grocery store, our community deserves to feel safe and protected. 

We hope you’ll join us in fighting against extremist policies and ideologies and making North Carolina a state where the LGBTQ+ community can thrive.

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