In a span of three days, several attacks impacted LGBTQ+ communities in the US in Maryland, Arizona, and New York.
On Saturday, February 18, a group of far-right extremists called the Proud Boys, known for their violent behaviour, tried to forcibly enter a bookstore where families with small children were enjoying Drag Queen Story Hour.
The Proud Boys assembled outside of Loyalty Books in Maryland, where they proceeded to intimidate counter-protesters who were playing music and singing songs to drown out the protesters’ hateful remarks.
Police had to intervene after the Proud Boys kicked and shoved counter protesters, leaving one LGBTQ+ supporter with a bloody nose and minor facial injuries. The counter protesters were able to successfully protect the children from the violence by shielding the bookstore’s entrance with Pride flags and colourful umbrellas.
In recent years, there has been a surge of attacks against the LGBTQ+ community in the US, especially of far-right attacks against drag performers. However, despite the attempted disruption, the event was able to proceed as planned in this case.
Owners of Loyalty Books have pledged to continue hosting drag queen story hours at their location, sharing: “Yesterday afternoon Loyalty came under attack from hate groups who tried to force their way into our store during a Drag Queen Story Hour with physical violence.
“Because of [counterprotesters’] efforts the children inside the store got to enjoy doing the Hokey Pokey, hearing beautiful books read aloud basking in the presence of the wonderful Char Chateau. They did not have to hear about bodily mutilation or listen to the slurs and the unhinged, graphic accusations.”
8/ I’ve gotten some more footage and images of us holding the line as the Proud Boys attempted to reach the doors, destroying umbrellas and assaulting ppl.
In the 4th image, you can see a PB using his elbow to shove a volunteer’s head into the window. pic.twitter.com/0HC0foUsWq
— Kristin Mink, Montgomery County Council (MD) (@KristinMink_) February 19, 2023
Another one of the recent attacks against the LGBTQ+ community in the US happened on Sunday, February 19, when an LGBTQ-owned coffee shop in Arizona was forced to end its Drag Queen Story Hour after the venue received a bomb threat.
Another group of Proud Boys arrived outside the Brick Road Coffee over the weekend, and the coffee shop received a bomb threat about 20 minutes after the event had started. Police responded promptly, but did not find any explosives. While it is unclear who made the threat, the police are continuing to investigate the matter.
Local Mayor, Corey Woods, shared this message with the community, “In Tempe, we celebrate, respect, and protect our diverse communities and businesses. We do not tolerate hate toward our LGBTQ community, and we stand up for the people and businesses who champion inclusion.”
The coffee shop has stated that they are prepared to deal with protestors and they do not want to give the Proud Boys more visibility. Unfortunately, they continue to be bullied for supporting LGBTQ+ events and shared that they have received numerous unwarranted 1-star reviews.
— Brick Road Coffee (@BrickRoadCoffee) February 15, 2023
In the early hours of Monday morning on February 20, an arsonist used a lighter to set fire to a ‘Make America Gay Again’ Pride flag hanging outside the Little Prince restaurant in New York.
The attack happened at 1:30 am Monday, when the restaurant was closed for the evening, but one employee was inside. The flag was immediately engulfed in flames that spread to the surrounding balcony of the occupied building, endangering residents who had to evacuate.
The incident was captured by a security camera, which provided clear images of the arsonist jumping back into her white SUV before she drove away.
The New York police department is investigating the attack as a hate crime. The community has mobilised to help identify the arsonist, and gay City Council member Erik Bottcher installed a new, larger Pride flag as a replacement for the one that was destroyed. He shared on Twitter: “The morning after a bigot set fire to the pride flag outside Little Prince restaurant in SoHo, we raised a new flag. Our community will not be intimidated.”
The morning after a bigot set fire to the pride flag outside Little Prince restaurant in SoHo, we raised a new flag.
— NYC Council Member Erik Bottcher (@ebottcher) February 20, 2023
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