(NEW YORK) — Two newly released reports capture the growing anti-LGBTQ+ extremism across the U.S., that has led to protests, threats and violence against the queer community.
A new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has found significantly more incidents of anti-drag protests, threats, and violence than previously reported, with the report adding that anti-drag efforts are accelerating amid growing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment from conservative politicians.
Another report from the Anti-Defamation League and the LGBTQ+ organization GLAAD shows there have been more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism or assault from June 2022 to April 2023, which the report states coincide with an increase in rhetoric and legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
Advocates warn of the dangers that they say lie in growing anti-LGBTQ+ extremist activity.
“Extremists, including elected officials, must be held accountable for inciting violence and using vile rhetoric against marginalized people who just want to live in safety and peace,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Targeting people for who they are, or for their race and faith, is an attack on fundamental freedoms, and the health and well-being of all in our country.”
From June 2022 to May 2023, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report recorded 203 incidents that targeted drag events online and offline across the U.S. The report found an increase in incidences where online anti-drag commentary led to offline activity against these events.
These threats are being carried out by not just anti-LGBTQ+ groups but also neo-fascist, white supremacist, parental rights and Christian nationalist groups, according to the study.
“The numbers in this report suggest that we run the risk of dangerous backsliding toward hate and violence directed at LGBTQ+ people,” said Clara Martiny, digital research analyst of ISD, in a statement on the report.
The increase in threats coincides with the increased use of false anti-LGBTQ+ stereotypes by conservative figures that activists say have historically been used to marginalize the community and rile up a political base.
“It is no surprise that when political leaders advance anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and schools are forced to censor LGBTQ+ voices, anti-LGBTQ+ threats and harassment rise,” Martiny said.
The Proud Boys is the leading group behind anti-drag activity, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report. They’ve targeted 60 drag events, according to the report, with 39 protests resulting in verbal or physical altercations.
The social media account, Libs of TikTok, on Twitter and TikTok is one of the largest purveyors of anti-drag content online, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue report states.
“The spread of anti-LGBTQ+ hate in the U.S. is advancing across the globe,” said Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of ISD, United States in a statement. “It’s imperative that policymakers address the rise of hate and extremism online and off. It starts with taking online threats seriously. We need to be proactive in protecting LGBTQ+ communities to avoid a snowballing effect of hate.”
Other anti-LGBTQ extremism
Similar to the report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the GLAAD and ADL report found that false “groomer” or “pedophilia” conspiracy theory was the most-cited anti-LGBTQ+ trope cited in 191 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault.
According to the GLAAD and ADL report, almost half of all incidents — 49% — were perpetrated in some way by people associated with extremist groups.
Perpetrators most frequently targeted drag events and performers, making up 138 of the more than 350 incidents. Schools and educators, health care facilities and providers and government buildings and elected officials were among the targeted places and people.
The ADL and GLAAD state that these figures only capture publicly reported incidents: “Since many anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism incidents go unreported, the true numbers are likely far higher,” a statement from the groups read.
“We hope these stark findings serve as a wakeup call to lawmakers, civil society leaders, and community leaders to stand up to this onslaught of hate and support our LGBTQ+ community,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement.
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