Waving my pride flag

no tolerance for hate

How is it that things have moved backward in America? I feel a greater need to wave my pride flag, at least metaphorically, than I have in years.

Just last month, I quoted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about the xenophobia that targets many folks. “They started by finding marginalized groups to demonize to unite people around a common enemy… to hate. Then they launched overwhelming campaigns of disinformation that ensured the people didn’t know what actually was happening in the world, only what they wanted them to know.”

It’s astounding how much misinformation – strike that: DISINFORMATION – is being spread about LGBTQ+ people.


An NBC News story on June 1: Companies under fire as Pride Month kicks off. “Some corporations are stepping into a fierce fight over transgender issues in the U.S. Target, Bud Light and Kohl’s are just a few of the companies getting backlash. ” And so is Chick-Fil-A?

To that end, this is from the Boston Globe. “From campy to controversial: How drag queens became a target of conservative lawmakers. The performers have gone from being the life of the party to facing tough restrictions and open animosity.”

From the LA Times on June 2: Police stepped in to split up protesters in a tense scene outside a North Hollywood elementary school as more than 100 parents rallied against a Pride Day assembly, bringing to a head weeks of turmoil that saw a transgender teacher’s LGBTQ+ Pride flag burned.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ civil rights group, issued its first State of Emergency in its 40-plus year history, citing a record number of bills across state legislatures targeted at regulating the lives of queer people. 

Several media outlets report that the Proud Boys plan to escalate their presence during Pride Month. “In private Telegram groups, Proud Boys have planned to counter Pride events by ‘taking back June’ with a so-called ‘Proud Month’ that would, as one militia member put it, ‘challenge this perversion of the Nuclear Family and Gender.” Proud Boys also plan to disrupt and co-opt Juneteenth celebrations with coordinated ‘Proud Day’ events “to break the chains of Pride Month” on June 17, two days before.”

The fight continues

Thus it becomes incumbent for allies to stay vocal and visible. The straight, cisgender Weekly Sift guy, notes, “I have attended Pride parades or seen drag shows. I’ve always found such events uplifting and life-affirming. I’ve never felt like anyone was telling me I should be gay or trans or anything else. The point is that we can all be what we are, and maybe even what we want to be.

“I see LGBTQ Pride as a little like ‘Black Lives Matter’; it’s a response to a negative. So often, our society sends the message that Black lives don’t matter, or that being anything other than heterosexual is shameful or sinful. Simply saying ‘I’m not ashamed of what I am’ doesn’t seem nearly strong enough, so I fully support people expressing pride in themselves.”

The AFL-CIO notes:  “We fight for all working people—no matter the gender, race, ethnicity or any other identity. Those identities intersect with your own identity as a worker, as a parent, as a sibling.  In America, we believe all people should be able to work without fear of discrimination or violence… LGBTQ+ people still lack basic federal legal protections in the workplace, which make them vulnerable to recent appalling and shameful actions by state legislatures. We have no tolerance for hate in our movement.” Amen.

Couch Guy: why people are watching

shame as a tool

couch guyAs is often the case, my daughter says to me something that just doesn’t register. A few days ago, she asked “Have you heard about Couch Guy?” It is her apparent obligation to keep me up to date on cultural trends. I had no idea what/who she was talking about.

If you go on Yahoo, you can type in Couch Guy Tiktok and find the video; it’s less than a minute. It is ostensibly about a young woman surprising her long-distance boyfriend. What it became is what NBC News suggested how internet sleuthing can be toxic.

“The video, posted Sept. 21 by Lauren Zarras, shows her boyfriend, Robbie…surrounded by friends and sitting on a couch next to three other women.

“Many of the people who have commented on the video.. suggested that Robbie was, in fact, not happy to see Zarras. Some went so far as to accuse him of being unfaithful to her. Not long after it went viral, TikTokers began meticulously combing through the video…”

My first position was to be the grumpy old man and think, “Why should anyone care about this?” But as someone who recognizes that how people communicate matters, I found myself utterly fascinated. Not by Robbie, the couch guy, for whom I feel bad that people find the need to so scrutinize ten seconds of his life.

Now some folks – I found several examples that won’t bother linking to – who ‘analyzed” the video out the sense that it was hot copy, even though they thought it was a lame narrative.

However, this phenomenon – I have to say obsession – provides some odd validation for these online sleuths. Indeed, for those who have rooted out racism and violence, e.g., that is an accomplishment.


The NBC piece discussed Morgan Forte, 23, who has “experienced what happens when it feels as though the internet has collectively decided to pick apart your life based on a seconds-long clip.

“Forte, of Jacksonville, Florida, said she posted a short video of her parents dancing a few years ago. Some claimed that Forte’s mother was acting grumpy in the clip.

“When the video blew up, getting about 15 million views across accounts that had shared it, some commenters began saying Forte’s father should leave her mother because of her demeanor in the video.” As they say, OMG.


Producer and activist Monica Lewinsky – yes, that Monica Lewinsky – is an anti-bullying advocate. She has produced a movie called 15 Minutes of Shame which she discussed recently on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

As Rolling Stone quoted her, “’One of the factors in the film is around the idea of how shame has been used since the beginning of time as a social tool.’ With the onset of the internet and tabloid culture — the problem worsened.”

John Della Volpe reported on new polling:

1) Nearly 2/3 of Americans who use platforms believe life was better without them.
2) 42% of #GenZ addicted, can’t stop if they tried.

It’s useless to rant, “You kids, don’t you have better things to do?” For many of them, the answer is no.

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