How the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and violence is impacting the community

The murders of several LGBTQ+ people and allies in recent weeks are raising alarm across the U.S. O’Shae Sibley was stabbed to death in Brooklyn after police said he confronted a group who made homophobic slurs and Laura Ann Carleton was killed in California for apparently refusing to remove a Pride flag from her store. Geoff Bennett discussed more with GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    The brutal murders of several LGBTQ+ people and their allies in recent weeks are raising alarm across the country.

    Among those cases, the shooting death of 66-year-old Laura Ann Carleton earlier this month in Lake Arrowhead, California. Carleton was killed after an argument about a rainbow pride flag hanging outside her store. And, last month, the murder of 28-year-old dancer O'Shea Sibley. Sibley, who was gay, was fatally stabbed during a confrontation at a gas station in Brooklyn, New York.

    Police say Sibley confronted a group of people who made homophobic slurs and racist remarks while he and his friends were dancing and voguing.

    I recently spoke about these attacks and the larger problem of violence against LGBTQ+ people with Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD.

  • Sarah Kate Ellis, President, GLAAD:

    Thanks for having me.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    We are living in a moment where accepting of LGBTQ people has never been greater.

    Looking at GLAAD's latest survey, nine out of 10 heterosexual Americans, 91 percent, think that LGBTQ people should live without facing discrimination; 84 percent support equal rights for the LGBTQ community. And yet GLAAD documented a more-than-300 percent increase in anti-LGBTQ incidents during this past Pride Month over last year.

    What do you make of that?

  • Sarah Kate Ellis, President, GLAAD:

    Yes, it's actually really shocking what's happening in our culture in our world today.

    And I think it really is simple. And it boils down to the politicization of our community. Really, what we're seeing is that politicians are filling the airwaves with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and it's getting picked up on social media.

    And then it's turning on — from online to offline in real life into hate and violence. And so, even though it is such a small — and this is exactly what you pointed out — this is a very tiny group of people who are anti-LGBTQ. The vast majority of Americans are allies or are LGBTQ.

    And so — but they're making a lot of noise, and they're super violent. And I just want to point out, not only are they now violent toward our community, which we're kind of used to, sadly, as a community. They're violent toward our allies. They're violent toward corporations, if you remember back to Pride Month, when Bud Light and Target were threatened with violence from these anti-LGBTQ folks.

    So they have really heated up and turned up the volume on violence against our community and our allies.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And nearly half of the documented incidents, as I understand it, were perpetrated by people with extremist ties.

    What's the best way, in your view, to confront that?

  • Sarah Kate Ellis:

    This is really tough. This is a tough situation that we're in.

    And what we need to do is see leadership on this. And we're not seeing that right now out of the Republican Party. Actually, what we're seeing the Republican Party do is villainize us and marginalize us. We're actually seeing faith leaders like the pope who is reaching across the aisle and talking about, the church is for everyone, everyone, everyone, he said a few weeks ago.

    We need to see the leadership, the political leadership in America on the Republican side, stop villainizing us and to stop politicizing us.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    What's the impact of all of that on the LGBTQ+ community?

  • Sarah Kate Ellis:

    It's devastating, honestly.

    The violence that you talked about, we have seen 350 acts of violence or threats of violence against our community — this is a poll that we do or a measurement that we do with the ADL — in the past year. We have seen over 600 anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation proposed since January.

    There's nine active now bills of don't say gay across America. It's not just Florida. And it's not just Texas. What we're seeing is a prolification across the states in America with these anti-LGBTQ bills. And all of that rhetoric, all of that fearmongering, it turns into violence and hate against our community.

    And it makes it really dangerous for us to exist. But we don't cower to this. We never have, and we never will, and nor will our allies. And we saw that beautifully both with O'Shea and with Lauri, who stood up for what they believed in.

    But you shouldn't have to die in America for being for a marginalized community.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    As you mentioned, Laura Ann Carleton, she was not a member of the LGBTQ community. She was an ally. And she was defending her Pride flags in front of her store the night that she was shot.

    And O'Shea Sibley, 28 years old, that is — was with his friends at a Brooklyn gas station was dancing to Beyonce songs and was fatally stabbed.

    Reflect, if you can, on what they represented.

  • Sarah Kate Ellis:

    They represent the best of America, living their lives freely, supporting their community in one case and being an ally in the other case.

    They represent, honestly, the American people, the majority of America, and not the small minority that we're talking about. And I think that standing up for your values shouldn't mean that you get gunned down or stabbed. That's not what this should be about.

    And we should — I — a week ago, we hadn't even heard the representative in Lauri's district speak out against this and in support of her. I don't know if that's changed in the recent couple of days.

    But what kind of leadership is that? That's perpetuating and promoting hate and violence.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Sarah Kate Ellis is the president and CEO of GLAAD.

    Thank you for being with us.

  • Sarah Kate Ellis:

    Thank you for having me.

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