By James Finn | NEW YORK CITY – It’s pride! It’s time to protest, party and honor all things queer! LGBTQ people are less concentrated in “gay neighborhoods” than before, but New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the Stonewall Inn where Pride had its riot kick off in 1969, remains a densely populated gay district. Queer people live, work and play together in an atmosphere of almost total normalcy and acceptance.
Chelsea is truly Pride Central!
Picture yourself locked away, an ex-serviceman landing in Chelsea as a young refugee in 1990 – shocked, thrilled and learning to cope with being NORMAL for the first time in my life. Imagine how I met a man, fell in love, moved in, and attended synagogue with him as part of a proud gay couple. Imagine how I found out my downstairs neighbor’s teenage son was gay – when he and his new boyfriend smiled at me as they strolled hand-in-hand down the crowded 8th Avenue, oblivious to the world .
It’s Chelsea! It’s pride!
The sports/entertainment center Chelsea Pier opened before I left New York, and while it wasn’t (strictly speaking) a queer establishment, it quickly became a hub of queer life – with lesbian softball leagues, gay golfers, birthday parties, and more. themed birthday party, etc. It’s Chelsea, after all, and Chelsea equals Pride.
So why is queer public enemy number one, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, speaking out at Chelsea Piers this Sunday?
Controversial has been raging since May, when the Jewish Heritage Museum canceled an arrangement to hold a public event for the curator Jewish Leadership Conference. Museum officials said a planned speech by Ron DeSantis would be a breach of agreement, that his anti-LGBTQ statements and policies are “not aligned with the museum’s values and its message of inclusivity.”
Perhaps the Leadership Conference should have taken a close look at the museum’s main website, preceded by a disclaimer about “What hate can do.
Other than the Leadership Conference, which complained about ‘cancellation culture’ in a groan the wall street journal editorial, the position of the museum did not shock anyone. If any group is predominantly LGBTQ, it’s the Jews of New York. If any group opposes the type of oppression and persecution that DeSantis represents, it is the Jews of New York.
If anyone is for inclusion and against grandstanding targeting marginalized minorities, it’s the Jews of New York.
Think back to the synagogue I mentioned. They had an openly lesbian cantor in 1990 and held weekend tea dances for transgender and queer seniors. Can you imagine a Christian church doing this in 1990? This is how LGBTQ-affirming Jews tend to be, and New York Jews are as assertive as they come.
Ron DeSantis is a demagogue and LGBTQ people are his target
DeSantis isn’t just riding a wave of right-wing hysteria against bisexual, gay and trans people, he’s fueling it for political purposes. He spreads lies and works to hurt people because he knows it will enrage his electoral base.
don’t say gay
Newly enacted Florida “Don’t Say Gay” The law prohibits public school teachers from discussing LGBTQ people or issues in kindergarten through 3rd grade and makes it difficult or impossible in older grades. Tolerance and inclusiveness are literally verboten. Florida’s LGBTQ teachers are quitting out of fear, even in progressive Dade County, and students are reporting a wave of regressive measures to force them into hiding. A valedictorian had to give a commencement speech using “curly hair” as a metaphor for homosexuality because his principal wouldn’t let him say it out loud.
DeSantis, through his publicist, urged supporting the law with scaremongering lies that homosexuals are likely to sexually abuse children or “groom” children for sexual abuse.
State that gender-affirming care is child abuse
On June 3, reports surfaced that DeSantis is trying to emulate Texas by declaring by executive order that gender affirmation therapy for transgender children is child abuse. He asked state health officials to overrule the consensus of the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Board of Pediatrics that professionally supervised gender affirmation is necessary and beneficial.
DeSantis doesn’t want parents to have the freedom to make medical decisions for their own children in consultation with their own doctors. He wants to harness voter anger for political gain, even if it means persecuting innocent families.
Recently, a 16-year-old trans boy in Texas attempted suicide, citing anti-trans politics as the reason. The state’s response was to send investigators to target parents for supporting their trans son. This is the kind of persecution DeSantis is trying to replicate in Florida.
Calls for investigations into child abuse by parents over drag queens
Most recently, DeSantis stirred up hatred at a press conference in which he suggested that parents who take their children to see drag queens should be investigated for child abuse and either go. in prison or have their children taken away.
His publicist Christina Pushaw, who often pushes the governor’s most toxic lies, backed up her boss’ false claims of sexualization or sexual abuse by tweeting a photo she had cropped and manipulated – of a woman who is not a drag queen interacting at a strip show for straight people. The kicker? The photo was part of a meme released three years earlier by a Nazi organization.
Unfortunately for choirlists, people have eyes. pic.twitter.com/BpmALsrX7Z
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) June 8, 2022
A Harvard Law School member and queer legal analyst spotted Pushaw’s lie almost instantly and exposed it, but the false claim is still circulating and Pushaw has not issued a retraction. That’s what demagogues do. It’s a perfect example of why DeSantis isn’t welcome at the Jewish Heritage Museum.
This was taken from a Nazi meme widely circulated 3 years ago from a Facebook post of a burlesque dancer who is a cis woman. It wasn’t a drag, and it didn’t happen in Dallas either. Do you mean why you share Nazi disinformation and propaganda? pic.twitter.com/sAgCiOcYha
— Alejandra Caraballo 🇵🇷🏳️⚧️ (@Esqueer_) June 8, 2022
So why is Chelsea Piers hosting an anti-LGBTQ demagogue? The answer is scary.
Chelsea Piers yesterday insisted they would not cancel the event, telling the New York Times that the organization “does not monitor the opinions expressed by those who rent out its event spaces”.
Oh good? This cannot be true.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents Chelsea, joined many other Democratic politicians and New York leaders urging Chelsea Piers to say no to hate and grandstanding: on many levels, including that it is Pride and that it’s in Chelsea, the heart of the community.
Chelsea Piers Management choose not standing up for LGBTQ equality, and that’s really scary, because it means even at the heart of Chelsea they don’t think it’s in their best interest. They are riding the wave of anti-LGBTQ reactions.
But what about Chelsea Piers’ claim to be view-neutral?
Please, Blanche. Would Chelsea Piers allow KKK’s David Duke to speak in an event hall? If you think they would, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that you might like as a real estate investment.
Would a neo-Nazi be welcome at Chelsea Piers? You know the answer as well as I do. Chelsea Piers is a private organization not constrained by the First Amendment. They can welcome or not whoever they want.
They are in the same situation as Jewish Heritage Museum, who said, indeed, that your kind is not welcome here, DeSantis. Fanatics, haters and demagogues need not apply. We know where this can lead. We know it too well. This is one of the main reasons we exist.
So, hey, Chelsea Piers, what’s wrong with you?
Why can’t you be as moral and moral as this Jewish museum? You can and do police views. Your statement to the contrary is dishonest in the extreme.
The truth is that you have decided not to defend your community.
You will not monitor anti-LGBTQ opinions because you have decided that these opinions are not worth monitoring. Shame on you. Look at your name. Chelsea is synonymous with LGBTQ pride. Gay men play tennis at your facilities then walk to the Stonewall Inn for lunch.
We thought we could count on you as an ally. After all, we have showered you with our patronage in the decades since you opened. Should we keep doing this? Why should we?
To my LGBTQ friends and allies, I have this to say: This is how it goes. Thus begins a slide towards persecution. Would you like a practical lesson in details? Spend part of Pride this year visiting the Jewish Heritage Museum.
Guides will be happy to show you what happens when demagogues like Ron DeSantis stir up hatred of the Other.
James Finn is a columnist for LA Blade, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, alumnus of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and an unpublished “agent” novelist. Send questions, comments and story ideas to [email protected]
The previous article has already been published by Prism & Pen – Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and is republished with permission.