At Pride Houston, growing threats to LGBTQ rights loom large

Saturday was Katie Marseille’s first and last Pride Houston event.

Two years ago, she moved her family to Texas after a stint in Germany for work, and was thrilled to live in a city that would welcome and support her transgender child, Logan. But Houston wouldn’t be their problem. As Republican lawmakers across the country continued to target LGBTQ rights, the Marseille family’s sense of security quickly faded.

“It’s been tough,” said 15-year-old Logan Marseilles. “Really hard.”

Katie Marseilles said she knew it was time to go in February, after Governor Greg Abbott ordered state agents to investigate the parents of children who are receiving hormone therapy, a decision which, according to two parents, pushed their child to attempt suicide.

“We are running away,” Marseille said on Saturday. “There is too much fear.”

His family was among thousands of people who gathered in downtown Houston for the annual Pride event held near City Hall. Many said they did it to celebrate while fending off a growing wave of threats to LGBTQ rights in America.

“I just wanted to make my voice heard,” said Rocio Roses, 24. “We celebrate myself, my voice, my rights and my power… But I’m scared for myself. And I’m scared for other women.

The event, which drew crowds that at one point wrapped around several city blocks, came a day after the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, which included comments from Justice Supreme Court Clarence Thomas that the Court should consider revisiting landmark rulings on same-sex marriage and other rights. long denied to American homosexuals.

Thomas’ comments follow years of growing hostility towards LGBTQ people, namely transgender Americans who have been targeted by hate groups, religious extremists and GOP-run state houses. Earlier this month, a truckload of members of the white nationalist hate group Patriot Prayer was stopped en route to a Pride celebration in Idaho. Seven of the men were from Texas.

And, on Friday, a man in Washington state was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill LGBTQ people at a Pride event.

Growing threats — both physical and legislative — loomed large on the minds of many at Saturday’s Houston event. Friday’s Supreme Court ruling on abortion only added to the sense of impending doom many described as they waited in the scorching heat to attend the event, or clamored in tents before the annual evening parade.

“They are still there and still looking to attack us,” said Samantha Falk, a 27-year-old truck driver who spent part of the day arguing with street preachers separated from the event by light barricades. .

“They show a fetus to shock people here with children around,” she said as she stood a few feet from the group of men. “How is it worse for me to be here kissing someone than showing them gore to the kids?”

Some of the preachers were affiliated with Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches, an ultra-conservative Christian denomination in which explicitly violent and anti-gay rhetoric has taken hold for years. The Washington man arrested ahead of his alleged plan to attack LGBTQ people earlier this month attended one of these churches; and in Texas, some members of an IFB splinter group openly called for the execution of trans or queer people.

Falk said the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion has made her increasingly concerned that LGBTQ rights will be targeted next. The Texas Republican Party pledged to pursue the removal of these rights as recently as this month. But she hopes more voters will step up as abortion — which Americans typically support by wide margins — is suppressed in many states.

“They think they’ve won,” she said. “But they’re going to have a rude awakening because they pissed off 80% of the women in this country.”

Katie Marseille hopes that’s true. As transphobia has grown, she says she’s been appalled by the number of people who have misconceptions about hormone therapy, or who think American trans kids just wake up one day, declare their gender and undergo surgery and treatment soon after. According to the American Medical Association, studies have linked gender-affirming treatments to reduced rates of suicide attempts, in addition to lower depression, anxiety and drug use.

Additionally, she said, it was heartbreaking to be described by some as an abusive parent for giving her child the care they had discussed for years, including with input from professionals.

“It’s such a shame,” she said of the pain that accompanies this judgment. “There are people who actually call us child abusers for supporting our child and seeing them for who they are.”

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