Why Pride lost the public

Bridget Phetasy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably witnessed the backlash to Pride. There have been mass boycotts of Bud Light after the beer company partnered with trans woman and TikTok influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, sending her a custom can to celebrate her first year of “girlhood.” Target was next to come under fire for its Pride display targeting children and their “tuck-friendly” bathing suits for women. 

This set the stage for the most divisive Pride month in some time. First, the boycotts. Then videos of angry parents at school boards went viral. Conservative radio hosts and commentators vowed to make Pride “toxic” to brands. But it’s not just conservatives who are pushing back; according to a recent Gallup poll, even Democrats have seen a drop in the acceptance of same-sex relations.

Which begs the question: what happened to Pride? After decades of progress for gay rights, growing acceptance of gay marriage and the normalization of same-sex relationships, Pride is unexpectedly political again. Why? 

In search of an answer, I spoke to prominent LGBT thinkers and writers, many of them dissenting voices when judged against the views of many LGBT advocacy groups. Their answers surprised me. Across the board they all said some version of “this was inevitable.”

“When it comes to gay issues, conservatives largely lost the culture war,” Katie Herzog observes. “But something about recent trends has reignited that passion — and issues that seemed resolved are up for debate again. I guess the Nineties really are back.”

“The core reason for the backlash is pretty simple: children,” Andrew Sullivan explains. “The attempt to indoctrinate children in gender ideology and to trans them on the verge of puberty has changed the debate. Start indoctrinating and transing children… and you will re-energize one of the oldest homophobic tropes there is: ‘gays are child molesters.’”