Pride Has Become a Victim of Its Own Success | Opinion

Go to a Pride Parade in any major city in America and you're going to see families with children—alongside men in leather harnesses being led on leashes, and gyrating drag queens flopping on the ground showing off their tucking skills. This juxtaposition has led to a debate in recent years: Should Pride be family-friendly, or a place where people can joyously express their most flamboyant selves? But it also exposes a paradox in LGBT life in 21st century America, namely, that Pride has become a victim of its own success.

As a Right-leaning gay Black man, I will be the first to admit that the major changes for LGBT Americans over the past decade have been crucial—and transformational. We've seen the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban against military service by openly gay soldiers that I advocated for at the White House in 2010, as well as marriage equality for same sex couples and the addition of LGBT Americans to the Civil Rights Act that now legally protects us from employment discrimination. These are important wins that will be felt for generations to come.

And yet, instead of the assimilation into mainstream culture that generally comes with victories for groups that have been historically discriminated against, some in the LGBT community and their allies seem to be going in the opposite direction, incorporating increasingly radical ideas about gender into education and entertainment meant for children.

Think of the mainstreaming of Drag Queen story hour, or the lesbian kiss—created, erased, then reinserted—into Disney's Lightyear, or the Democrats going to the mat for the right to teach kindergarteners about sexual orientation. Again and again, the far Left has used LGBT people as a wedge in the culture war, pushing the goalpost from equal rights—something most conservatives support these days—to a mandated embrace of the extreme.

It's turned what was once a fairly innocuous celebration of the LGBT community that came around once a year into what feels like a sideshow designed to turn off the mainstream in the name of "progress." That's the problem with Pride in 2022: They took a culture war issue that they won and moved the goalpost so that conservatives would still be on the "wrong side of history." And in so doing, they hurt us gay Americans most of all.

It seems to me that the vast majority of us in the gay and lesbian community want what all Americans want: to be free to live, earn, serve, and get married in peace. But that's not good enough for the far-Left activists who thrive on negative attention—and who need to smear conservatives as "anti-gay" to maintain power.

Of course, it's a lie: President Trump was the first president in American history to enter office as a supporter of marriage equality. And that Supreme Court ruling that protects LGBT Americans from workplace discrimination? That happened in 2020, with the majority opinion written by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Unsurprisingly, according to exit polling, 28 percent of gay and lesbian Americans voted for President Trump in 2020. These numbers suggest that Democrats relying on LGBT Americans to be a voting bloc similar to what they've managed with African-Americans are in for a rude awakening.

Pride has become a victim of success
Members of the 'Studio Kink' float prepare to take part in the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Mardi Gras parade began in 1978 as a march and commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots of New York. It is an annual event promoting awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues and themes. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

This is not to say it's not all smooth sailing, though; in the absence of the gay-friendly Trump to bring the GOP together, fractions are arising. An "RNC Pride" Coalition in partnership with LGBT Republican organization Log Cabin Republicans was announced to derision from some on the Right. The head of the Oklahoma GOP said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel "must resign" for courting the votes of gays and lesbians.

But most Republicans would be horrified to see America return to the days when it wasn't safe for a same-sex couple to walk down the street hand in hand; those conservatives who can't embrace the LGBT in our ranks should be thankful they've never had to wonder whether they'd be attacked for loving a person of the wrong sex.

No matter what the Left tells you, we gay and lesbian Americans are among the freest in the world; LGBT folks from other countries regularly risk death to come here. Billion-dollar companies and corporations line up to show their support every June, changing their logos to reflect Pride's colors on their social media handles for fear of facing backlash or even boycott. Even the Empire State Building is lit up in rainbow colors!

Still, it just isn't enough for the fringe that has overtaken the Left. A movement that was founded with the noble goal of mainstreaming and protecting LGBT Americans achieved its goal and is now being eaten alive by the far-Left fringe that is laying claim to it.

And you can expect this trend to continue. Expect more colors and symbols on the rainbow flag as it is "updated" to reflect whatever Leftist movement wants to attach itself to the intersectional nexus of oppression. Expect more ideology meant to engender a sense of oppression to a privileged few, who will continue to create new ways to separate themselves from the mainstream.

And expect the backlash from the Right to continue, because that is exactly what the radicals want.

But they are alienating their own, too. If the trend continues, young LGBT Americans may soon find themselves becoming interested in the politics and ideology of the gay and lesbian conservatives they once shunned.

Imagine that.

Rob Smith is a decorated Iraq War Veteran, Host of the 'Can't Cancel Rob Smith' Podcast, and founder/President of The Douglass Society. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Columbia University. Find him on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram @robsmithonline.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.