January 14, 2021 at 5:27 am EST | by Kathi Wolfe
Storming of the Capitol should give you nightmares
(Screen capture via Twitter)

“I just keep thinking about all the times I walked through the Capitol,” my friend George said to me over the phone on Jan. 5.

It was the afternoon of Jan. 6. An insurrection was taking place at the U.S. Capitol. A mob, incited by Donald Trump and his false claims of election fraud, chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Stop the Steal” was seizing the Capitol.

George has worked with Republicans and Democrats in the White House and in Congress. He’s known for his sense of humor – not for being overcome with emotion. But, glued to the news, he wasn’t joking that day.

Since then, queer or not queer, we’ve been reeling! If you’ve been to the Capitol even once, you remember the awe that you felt when you entered the building.

The mob failed in its aim. Though the insurrectionists caused the Electoral College count to be delayed, Congress reconvened, and confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Yet, the insurrectionists, a mob fueled by beliefs in white supremacy and baseless conspiracy theories, came perilously close to achieving its goal. Though the rioters had planned their rampage on the Capitol on the dark web and social media, the Capitol Police offered little resistance to their entering the building. One of the officers was photographed taking a selfie with one of the rioters.

You can bet that things would have been radically different if the people in the mob had been primarily Black or brown, instead of mostly white. Police had no trouble arresting people who peacefully protested George Floyd’s death last summer or arresting people in wheelchairs who peacefully protested against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

As I wrote in the Blade in 2018, “The bruises started appearing this morning and I imagine my arm will be covered in pretty colors over the next few days,” Anita Cameron a disabled Black lesbian emailed me after she was arrested for peacefully protesting repeal of the ACA.

I seldom think like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star and former (Republican) California governor. Yet as he said in a video that went viral, I felt that the insurrection on the Capitol was like Kristallnacht. On Kristallnacht in 1938, Nazi mobs destroyed Jewish synagogues and businesses. If you have relatives, as I’ve had, who fled Nazi-occupied Europe because they were Jewish, Schwarzenegger’s comparison of the Capitol insurrection to Kristallnacht is spot on.

Queer or not, the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol should give you nightmares. But, if you’re LGBTQ, the hairs on the back of your neck should be standing on end.

As Sam Sanders, host of the NPR podcast “It’s Been a Minute” writes in an essay on NPR.org, it’s a lie to say that the armed insurrection of the Capitol on Jan. 6, “isn’t America!” (Sanders is Black and gay.)

As Sanders and many others who are Black and brown have pointed out: the storming of the Capitol revealed what America is: a nation founded on slavery, empowered by white supremacy (and its racism and anti-Semitism).

It’s good that, as the Blade reported, LGBTQ rights groups from the Human Rights Campaign to PFLAG condemned the siege of the Capitol. “Trump and those who aid and abet him have a clear pattern … of attacking people of color,” Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality told the Blade.

But this isn’t enough. We who are LGBTQ need to reflect on, examine, and call out our community. Trump won 28 percent of the LGBTQ vote in the 2020 election, according to Edison Research exit polling. We need to ask ourselves why more than one in five of us voted for Trump despite his racism, anti-immigration stance, and anti-LGBTQ rights administration.

As I write, Trump has just told reporters that his remarks to the insurrectionists before they stormed the Capitol were “totally appropriate.”

When will LGBTQ Republicans condemn Trump for his incendiary remarks?

Many of us like to think that because we’re queer, a current of racism doesn’t run through our community. We need to call out the racism within LGBTQ organizations, businesses, and ourselves. If we don’t do this, we’re just shedding hollow white tears.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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