Our LGBTQ community is under siege

Sam Martino
Out In Jersey magazine editor Sam Martino

Editor’s Letter

In the last year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for religious exemptions giving people the right to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. What’s next? Banning women from wearing pants? No more man buns?

When Roe v. Wade was overturned in some states, we knew that there was more to come. These laws are dangerous for every single one of us.

If you are an LGBTQ person of a certain age, then discrimination is nothing new, but the blatant anti-gay reversal of hard-fought rights may be both surprising and shocking. We tend to think that once we’ve gained this right or that right, then they are set for evermore, but not today.

Today, with the infiltration of fake news, misinformation, and the people who spew its nonsense, these rights can and are being eroded away.

What can queer people and our allies do? We can run for office, even if it’s a small town that you live in, all of our efforts collectively make a difference. Vote for LGBTQ people. If you have children, attend meetings at the school, or better yet, get on the school board. Join national organizations that are fighting for our rights like the Human Rights Campaign or ACLU. Write letters to the editor. Volunteer at your local LGBTQ community center.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement on these discriminatory bills:
“…Neither of these laws are about protecting youth — they are about spreading dangerous misinformation against the transgender community; they are about doubling down on efforts to attack drag artists and transgender youth. Gender- affirming care is age-appropriate, medically necessary care that is only provided in consultation with doctors and the consent of parents. And drag is a longstanding, celebratory form of entertainment and a meaningful source of employment for many across the state.

“These extremist politicians who took an oath to protect all of the people of Tennessee are telling us loud and clear that they have no plans to uphold fundamental rights or demonstrate respect for all of their constituents.”

We are currently in a fight for our lives. The younger generation might not recognize it. But at 59 years old, I do.

In the latest issue of Out In Jersey magazine (April/May 2023), “Unpacking the LGBTQ Generation Gap” asks the question, what’s dividing the community?

In my opinion, the younger generation didn’t really have to fight for their rights, because when they came out on the scene we had already fought the good fight. They don’t remember blacked-out windows, and police arresting and beating people just because they were queer. We have fought long and hard. I will leave you with this one word: Stonewall.