It’s anxiety-inducing and painful to watch the news each night, as we continue to see anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping across the country (and the world). Pushed by radical hate groups and bigots, advanced by opportunistic and close-minded right-wing politicians, and fueled by ignorance and fear, these bills attack the most marginalized and vulnerable among us: trans folx, LGBTQ+ youth, and queer women. Packaged as “parents’ choice” or “keeping children safe” or “protecting life,” this fascist agenda actually attacks democracy itself, seeking to oppress minorities and curb freedom, including freedom of speech, expression and thought. While publicly claiming they want to protect cisgender athletes, ban unsafe books, or outlaw dangerous drag performances, they actually seek to push harmful tropes about queer and trans people, such as “grooming” youth or “converting” straight people. They want to silence and erase transgender, non-binary and gender expansive individuals, who do not fit their limited binary understandings or desires for gender.

And we aren’t immune from this hate locally either. Just recently, a radical right-wing commentator was allowed to speak on the University at Buffalo campus, even after he had said, “transgenderism must be eradicated.” A Pittsford CommUNITY Drag Story Time event has come under attack by harsh opposition from “Moms Across America.” A bomb threat was called into Hilton Central School district this week, claiming to be over an LGBTQ+ book in the high school library, which a bigoted parent groups is trying to get banned. In the past year, several LGBTQ-owned Rochester businesses, including Equal Grounds Coffee House and Crisp Rochester, have received hate mail on their doorsteps. Pride flags have been ripped down and/or burnt from the porches of numerous local queer and trans households in the city and suburbs. Many QTPOC continue to feel unsafe and unwelcome in our communities.

Contrary to the belief of these bigots, LGBTQIA2S+ people have always existed and offered incredible contributions to societies around the world. This hate against us is not new, and it will not succeed as long as we fight. We refuse to be silenced or erased. We refuse to live our lives in fear. We will do what we have always done: We will fight for our equal rights and social justice. We will protest oppression. We will protect and look out for each other, especially Black trans women and LGBTQ+ youth. We will march; we will rally; we will speak at school board meetings; we will turn out to vote for every election (especially the local ones); we will run for elected office; we will live proudly and authentically (and defend those who aren’t ready yet); and we will celebrate LGBTQIA2S+ joy! And we will do it all TOGETHER because only united can we fight hate and help build a better, brighter future. Rochester LGBTQ+ Together stands with you, always.

In Solidarity & Pride,
Braden C. Reese,
Director, Rochester LGBTQ+ Together

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