Blog / 2023 / A Crabby Kind of Pride

June 6, 2023

This year’s Pride Month is a doozy. In the US, the attacks on queer rights—and particularly on the rights of queer youth—have been hugely unsettling. “Love is love” is grand, but a little bit more “trans rights are human rights” would go a long way towards making things better.

painting process for Progress Pride flag crab
painting process for Crabby Pride

In early 2022, right before Russia brought war to Ukraine, but not before anyone who was paying attention could see what Putin was ramping up to, a moderator stopped me from speaking. I was participating in a Zoom discussion about humanist activism, and he was in charge of keeping the conversation going, which he’d managed to do just fine by allowing plenty of other participants say their piece. It seemed strange that he would cut me off.

When I tried to keep speaking after he interrupted me, he told me that he didn’t think bringing up the Third Reich would take us anywhere interesting, but I’m pretty sure that was just a cover.

What I mean is that, before the moderator shut me down, I’d been saying that the Nazis had used homophobia in much the same way that Putin has been using it in recent years: to unite people under a socially conservative ideology by stoking a shared fear of queer. Obviously, that isn’t the only play in the book of fascist takeovers—Jewish people and people of any ethnicity that can be “othered” along with disabled people have long been identified as fascist targets. Still, whipping up homophobia is incredibly easy. The fascists knew that in 1930s Germany, just as they know it in Russia today and in the US as well.

In fact, I’d say that the moderator knew it too, on a visceral level. My guess is that he stopped me from speaking because I broached the topic of queerness. We were discussing humanist activism—secular activism, specifically—and we’d been focusing on the environmental catastrophe that is our planet, the pervasive oppression of racism, the scary ways “god talk” is taking over our public spaces, and Republican attacks on reproductive rights. I thought it made sense to talk about how queerphobia plays into all these other problems, but, for this well-meaning liberal cis hetero white dude, that was a bridge too far.

Queerness and queer rights are often characterized in just that way: as taking things too far. And that’s true even for well-meaning people like the moderator, which is why queerphobia is so useful to fascists looking to convert liberals to their cause.

Progress Pride flag crab by nonbinary artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Crabby Pride
acrylic on paper
10 x 8 inches

This year for Pride, it’s my dream that we all face the fact that Republican attacks on the rights of queer kids are meant to draw even well-meaning people a little more towards social conservativism and, eventually, get them to accept out-and-out fascism.

Love is love, and that means we need to stop simply tolerating queerness and instead love LGBTQIA humans fully.

Progress Pride flag crab design illustration
cut out of Crabby Pride

The original Progress Pride flag crab piece is currently for sale at the Trenton City Museum’s shop as part of the Ellarslie Open 40 show, for which another of my pieces has been selected as a finalist. Fingers crossed that the piece that’s a finalist makes it into the exhibit, but, whatever happens, Crabby Pride is currently available via the Trenton City Museum’s shop for $350 plus shipping and tax.

For prints and t-shirts with this crabby design, go here in my print store!

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