To say that 2022 was a bad year for the LGBTQ community’s dignity would be an understatement.
This year saw the creation of a whole new slur for LGBTQ people and their allies – “groomer” – as well as unprecedentedly ugly attacks on transgender people, with governors accusing supportive parents of trans kids of child abuse.
Along with that, there were attacks on the mere mention of LGBTQ identities, as if it’s so shameful to be who we are that the public has a right to be shielded from knowledge of our existence.
And still we stood up with dignity.
This year’s nominees for LGBTQ Nation’s 2022 Hero who Stood Up with Dignity are B. Pagels-Minor, a former Netflix employee who organized protests of Dave Chappelle’s transphobic comedy special; Barbra Seville, a drag queen that stood up to a GOP politician and brought receipts; Maia Kobabe, a nonbinary author who found emself at the center of the right’s book-banning craze; Adrian Jawort, who sued a pastor who lied about her and misgendered her… and won; and HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow, who testified in Congress about LGBTQ people’s rights in the wake of Roe being overturned and stood up to a Republican Congressman who was erasing bisexual people.
The nominees for Hero who Stood Up with Dignity came out, fought back, and stood tall. Vote now for LGBTQ Nation’s 2022 Hero who Stood Up with Dignity.
“There’s no longer tolerance for intolerance,” B. Pagels-Minor, the former Netflix program manager, wrote in an editorial for The Washington Post, following a walk-out they helped organize at the streaming giant in October.
Pagels-Minor had been fired the week before.
The facts are in dispute, but Netflix claims the former program manager leaked viewer metrics about Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special The Closer, a day before they and the Trans* Employee Resource Group at the company organized the walk-out. Pagels-Minor denies the charge.
The show premiered October 5th and ignited a firestorm among the trans community and allies, because Chappelle has described himself as a TERF and made transphobic and homophobic jokes.
“We could have been seen as partners, our opinion valued and considered,” they said. “Instead, Netflix ignored us.”
The walk-out attracted hundreds of protesters and a media circus to the streamer’s headquarters in Hollywood, helicopters circling.
“We in the trans community know this is a marathon, and we will never stop fighting for equity and respect,” Pagels-Minor wrote. “Let this backlash be a lesson.”
This summer, Kari Lake’s drag queen buddy Barbra Seville had finally had enough.
The two went back decades, when Lake was a well-liked local evening news anchor in Phoenix, and Seville worked the club circuit there. Over the years, through Lake’s political party switches and eventual MAGA brainwash, Seville stayed friendly.
But then Lake, now the Republican nominee for governor, joined in the broader GOP war on drag queens: “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens. They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow.”
Barbra had to respond.
“Now that @karilake has waded in to the war on drag queens,” Seville, posted on social, “know she is a complete hypocrite. I’ve performed for Kari’s birthday, I’ve performed in her home (with children present,) and I’ve performed for her at some of the seediest bars in Phoenix.”
“She’s come to my parties and has been asked to leave because door people thought she was too intoxicated to remain on premises.”
The receipts were a series of damning — for Lake — photos showing just how much the MAGA candidate loved drag queens until she ran for office.
Despite a cease and desist order, Seville didn’t shut up. She wanted the world to know that there’s nothing shameful about the art of drag.
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E never asked for it, but Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer has become the poster child for America’s book-banning hysteria.
The nonbinary and asexual artist and writer discovered last October that eir debut graphic memoir, Gender Queer, had been banned in Fairfax County, Virginia.
The book, first published two years earlier, charts Kobabe’s journey to self-acceptance and explains ideas around gender and sexuality.
The book has a few decidedly unsexy – but frank – discussions of sex, which was enough to get it labeled “child porn” by the far-right and turned into a symbol of how liberalism is destroying schools.
After Fairfax County, school districts across the country followed suit. Gender Queer, Kobabe came to understand, had sparked a bonfire of intolerance that was raging out of control.
Kobabe wrote an illustrated op-ed for the Washington Post that plainly and reasonably explained why the book was necessary, and why libraries, representing everyone they serve, are so important. Kobabe stood up amid the heat with quiet, cool intensity.
“You probably won’t ever see this,” e quoted from a message, “but I am a queer FCPS student! My mom and I read your book. I loved it! I related to almost everything you said. I felt so understood and not alone.”
According to pastor J.D. Hall, a former darling of the far-right wing in Montana, Native American trans activist Adrian Jawort accosted and threatened an elderly state senator in the halls of the state capital in Helena, to the point he sought protection from the sergeant-at-arms.
Hall wrote the story – entitled “Who’s the Gothic Transvestite Haunting the Halls of the Montana Capitol?” – on his website, misgendering Jawort, calling her “mannish,” and called her mentally ill because of her trans identity.
Jawort, who wasn’t even in Helena when the purported incident happened, sued for libel.
And she won. Big. A judge ordered the pastor to pay a $250,000 fine and publicly apologize. He retracted the story and admitted it was false.
“Montana has had transgendered people since time immemorial,” Jawort said after her victory. “Indigenous cultures have always accepted them under a ‘live and let live’ doctrine.”
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which established the federal right to an abortion and was a key legal victory underpinning individual freedom, LGBTQ people grew concerned about the threat to equality.
HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow testified at a Congressional hearing in July about the threat to the community’s rights, including the rights of many LGBTQ people to obtain an abortion, something that dumbfounded Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who didn’t seem to understand what the definition of bisexual is.
“An individual who is attracted to people of both sexes – both men and… male and female – is someone who’s bisexual. They can be in long-term, monogamous relationships,” Warbelow explained carefully to Gaetz.
“I don’t ask this to be dismissive, but you’re saying that lesbian women are also capable of being into men?” he responded.
The point that he – like several other Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) – was trying to make was that LGBTQ people don’t need abortions because they can’t get pregnant.
Warbelow stood up to Gaetz’s badgering, even when he blasted her on social media, making sure that the diversity of the community could be understood by a wider audience.
Also at the hearings, Warbelow made headlines when she called out an anti-choice activist who claimed that minors who terminate their pregnancies aren’t getting abortions, so they won’t be affected by abortion bans.
“I heard some very significant disinformation,” Warbelow responded, not letting that ridiculous statement slide.