Armed Homophobes Hosting A ‘Make America Straight Again’ Conference During Orlando Pride

Armed Homophobes Hosting A ‘Make America Straight Again’ Conference During Orlando Pride June 12, 2019

I started watching season three of the Handmaid’s Tale the other night, and it felt different from every other season. Of course, when I read the book as a teen, my brain wandered into a cloud of what-ifs? Could this sort of thing happen post-feminism? Is it something that should genuinely worry me? I concluded that Margaret Atwood was just an exceptional writer who knew how to highlight the weak spots in our civilization. I felt like she was posing a thought experiment or maybe giving us a warning that if we didn’t work to maintain our rights, we might lose them.

When I watched the first and second season of the television show, many of the same thoughts came back to me. Is it possible that we regress like this? Could some version of Offred’s reality become our own? Again, I felt this was just a story that poked and prodded at our past wounds so well that it made us feel uneasy, but that ultimately, it could never happen.

But then the US started passing all of the abortion bans we’ve been seeing. Georgia has attempted to criminalize miscarriages. Victimized teens are being forced to carry unwanted babies to term. So, when I tuned into season 3, I couldn’t help but think some form of this is in the future, at the very least for American women. It felt darker, more ominous and more like prophecy. It’s going to take me a while and a hell of a lot of beer to finish this season as I find the right headspace to watch each episode.

I think one of the most offputting scenes in the entire series is when we see a flashback of Emily the handmaid trying to flee Gilead with her wife and child. Emily gets denied because they refuse to recognize their marriage, and she’s not Canadian like her wife is. The child’s biological mother is Emily’s wife, so Emily loses her entire family in a single, heartbreaking moment.

Before that scene, I hadn’t thought about what would happen if the federal legalization of same-sex marriages was ever rolled back in the USA or any other country for that matter. Up until that moment, it had not crossed my mind that we could go backwards.

Then, the other day, I read that the Trump administration is going to be rolling back policy that makes it more difficult to discriminate against married same-sex couples during the adoption process. We’ve also seen his administration make it more difficult for the foreign-born children of same-sex parents to get citizenship.

In other words, for those who are paying attention, it’s starting to make that scene with Emily fleeing Gilead look more and more prophetic every day. Something that had never crossed my mind because it seemed like the last thing I had to worry about, now seems to be somewhat of a possibility. It seems to me that it’s something that ought to concern all of us.

Though small policy changes are happening that are cause for concern, and even though the president and vice president of the United States of America are both blatant misogynists and homophobes, the scariest thing we have to worry about isn’t in the White House. The most frightening threat to progress is, instead, this atmosphere of empowerment that bigots are finding when they let their hatred loose. When organizations like the New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church (NIFB) are finding a welcoming audience and feeling free to host events like the Make American Straight Again (MASA) conference even though the pastors in this organization have called for the execution of all LGBTQ+ people, that’s when we know Gilead is a very real warning. The Handmaid’s Tale is not just a story anymore.

On June 12th, 2016, the PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the scene of a hate-fueled shooting that ended in 50 deaths. PULSE was a favourite spot for members of the Florida LGBTQ+ community. Three years later, almost to the day, NIFB has planned the MASA conference just blocks away from the scene of this horrific tragedy. It’s no coincidence, of that we can be sure.

Click here for a video promoting their conference. Notice the line one of the pastors utter,

and capital punishment for everybody that’s a h*m*

On this page, you can find a video of an NIFB pastor saying,

If I had a button on this pulpit, and I’d just push this button and every f*g would fall over dead, I’ll push it until it breaks.

From a press release sent out by anti-NIFB activists this morning,

This specific religious sect are vocal regarding their ownership of weapons and ammunition, as well as their proficiency in their usage. They also reference their familiarity with both conceal-and-carry and stand-your-ground legislation in the state of Florida, raising serious concerns that there may be violent escalations during their planned public activities surrounding the PULSE anniversary.

This conference is also during Pride in Orlando.

When the White House administration has bigots on the payroll and rolls back anti-discrimination policy, they empower organizations like this to come out of the woodwork. The louder these assholes get, the more hate-motivated politicians will run for office and the more we’re going to fall backwards. To put it bluntly, the more people like this come out of the woodwork, the more likely we are to find out what will happen to legally married same-sex couples, like Emily and her wife, when Trump repeals marriage equality.

The only way we can fight this is by being louder than them; by fighting harder than them. When we stand up for love, we can stop fearing a regression to darker days. When our voices of acceptance and inclusion drown out the sound of hate, we can stop worrying that we’re all on a path to Gilead.

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Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay

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