Dear Pride Family,
January 27, was chosen as Holocaust Remembrance Day because it was the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated in 1945. Millions of Jews, political dissenters, religious minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people lost their lives at the hands of Nazi Germany. It is important that we don’t simply remember their loss, but how we got there. In the early 1900s, Germany was a thriving mecca for the queer community, but hate-filled scapegoating and propaganda bred fear, genocide, and global war. Too many are staring in the face of history and greeting it like a stranger.
As a Jewish, queer, non-binary, Mexican-American, first-generation US citizen, I was raised being taught the history of WWII and the Holocaust. As a multi-ethnic person, it has always pained me to see clearly how connected our seemingly disparate struggles truly are.
Many forget or were never taught that while Paragraph 175 was a German statute that criminalized sexual relations between men, its interpretation and expansion were only made more deadly under Nazi rule. Trans and gender-nonconforming people were some of the first people targeted by the Nazis, who early on in their rise to power raided and destroyed Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology, erasing decades of research on gender expression, identity, and sexual orientation.
For years this country has seen a rise in violence targeting Black trans women, in a hyperpolarized political environment that has uplifted xenophobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny, racism, transphobia, and homophobia. Canaries in a coal mine.
As of my writing this there are 229 piece of anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation being entered into legislative bodies across the country, some of which include prison time. With Justice Thomas’s concurrence alongside the Dobb’s decision that struck down Roe taking aim at Lawrence v Texas which decriminalized same-sex intimacy, the intentions of right-wing extremists couldn’t be more clear.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security’s terrorism advisory bulletin announced in November that Americans motivated by violent ideologies pose a “persistent and lethal threat” to LGBTQ, Jewish, and migrant communities. Our community is being used as a political wedge issue yet again, and we know these political threats have real-life consequences.
Recently in Santee, an innocent Black trans woman who was minding her own business became the target of what has become a national media storm playing off false and dehumanizing fears surrounding the trans and LGBTQ community. Yesterday, 27 regional LGBTQ organizations spoke out in support of Christynne Lili Wrene Wood and all transgender people in advance of her public comment at Santee City Council last night.
We all need to stand up.
We cannot allow a scenario to play out that leads us to repeat the words from 1946 written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.” This April we are launching our first Pride Power Summit where we will train the next generation of activists to engage in this fight. Even if directly engaging in grassroots organizing isn’t where you feel comfortable, the responsibility still rests with each of us to show up for each other in our daily lives and confront discrimination when and where we find it. Nothing can undo the hate, death, or violence any of our communities have faced over the generations, but we can stand shoulder to shoulder, ready to take action in our shared intersectional struggles in hopes that we all may Thrive!
Fernando Z. López
San Diego Pride