The LGBTQ+ Community is Fed Up with Escalating Bigotry

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In 2020, the first public Pride event was held in Putnam County. Since then, there have been three increasingly larger events, and this year will be perhaps the largest. That makes five years Putnam County has seen a local Pride without a problem, and yet the hate-filled rhetoric is somehow intensifying with each year.

This is obviously not just a local issue; it is fueled by a national political conversation that is deliberately homophobic and transphobic in nature. Of course, local policies like Cold Spring and Philipstown’s ban on the Pride flag a couple of years ago have also contributed to bigots feeling empowered.

But we are not some small town in Tennessee or Texas; we are one hour from the city where the concept of a Pride march originated, and many Putnam residents grew up there or nearby. We know better. We all know LGBTQ+ people, and we all know Pride is a thing that’s been happening for 55 years now.

So, when local people threaten gun violence against Putnam Pride, or to “shut it down” as a means of intimidating us into staying home, it is especially sinister. Some have also called to boycott our business supporters; luckily our sponsors and vendors know that giving in to such threats only perpetuates the bias. It is how the Nazi regime began its strategy to exterminate Jews, after all.

I have had it with the defamatory comments casting all LGBTQ+ people as degenerates and pedophiles. I have had it with the suggestion that we are “grooming” kids to be drag queens, or that somehow drag and rainbows are more threatening to the community than these calls for violence. I’ve had it with harassing e-mails and texts attempting to scare us into calling off the event. I’ve also had it with the lack of proactive assistance we get in handling these threats from the relevant authorities.

It is all tied together. When the aggressors know that no one is there to help us, they are emboldened to do what they please. It won’t look good for the county when something happens eventually and they took no steps to stop it in advance.

I’m writing this to encourage everyone not to give in to intimidation and fearmongering. The only way to change the conversation is to show up and stay visible. Support the sponsors and vendors listed at putnampride.com. Counter the hate by attending the event, volunteering with us or writing a letter of support to your local paper.

There is strength in numbers, and we need your presence and your voice now, more than ever.

Eileen McDermott
Putnam NY Pride

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