MassEquality counter-protested the SHFA event – The Rainbow Times | New England’s Largest LGBTQ Newspaper | Boston


The organizers of “Super Happy Fun America”, the producers of Straight Pride, organized a fundraiser to celebrate the January 6 riots on the Capitol; MassEquality counter-protested

By: Chris Gilmore / TRT Reporter—

WORCESTER, Mass .– Late last month, the MassEquality counter protested a fundraiser for Capitol Hill insurgents from the anti-LGBTQ + group, Super Happy Fun America, SHFA – the same group behind the Straight Pride March that took off. held in Boston, Massachusetts in August 2019. SHFA hosted the event to celebrate the Capitol Hill Uprising and the seditious actors behind it at the Sportsmen’s Club of the Century in Auburn, Mass.

“Freedom of speech works both ways,” MassEquality Executive Director Tanya Neslusan told Rainbow times. “The Super Happy Fun America platform is not only homophobic and transphobic but also racist and xenophobic. As an organization dedicated to lived equality, it is our duty to denounce inflammatory hate speech wherever we find it and to counter it with a message of love and support. “

The events of January 6, 2021 marked the history of the nation and “remind us all of the devastating consequences of extremism,” according to the organization’s statement. Their swift action was organized to fight disinformation and to raise awareness in the community about an event that seemed to be going under the radar.

“We also had to make sure that the local residents were aware of the event and that the organizations involved (SHFA and Proud Boys, among others) saw that they could not infiltrate the small towns and believed that no one would notice.” , reiterated Neslusan. “We had to nip this in the bud.”

Super Happy Fun America, an organization whose slogan is “It’s great to be straight” and whose ten point plan includes language that harms the LGBTQ + community, immigrants and other marginalized communities has sought to “Raise funds” for “the heroes of January 6 ‘” according to a leaflet they posted online.

“Beyond that, it is offensive to raise money for the legal defense of traitorous insurgents, who endangered Auburn’s own congressman on January 6.e“Neslusan added.” I vividly remember seeing Congressman McGovern’s face on CNN as the insurgents smashed down the bedroom door and I was terrified for him. Caring about our country and about our constitution is not the exclusive domain of those who promote hate speech and division. ”

Some of the demonstrators; Photo: Mass equality

Quick response

Many, including this post, immediately took MassEquality’s swift response to social media. They called their action “Patriots for Equity: A Counter-Protest”. The counter-demonstration gathered in Southbridge and West Streets, in Auburn, Mass. and a few dozen people joined her.

“In total, around 30 people attended the event,” Neslusan said. “The executive director of Black and Pink (Michael Cox) came to support us as well as several members of SURJ Worcester, some members of the Libertarian Party and some members of the local committees of the democratic city. Most of the attendees were local residents, who were appalled that the event was taking place in their backyards. “

People from other parts of the Commonwealth have also gone out to protest this form of fanaticism. One person joined in this action and also protested against the Straight Pride Parade in Boston.

“I went to the counter-demonstration,” said Jeff Cohen, co-chair of the No Place for Hate committee in Salem, Project Out board member and ally. “I went to the one in Boston in 2019 and really wanted to do like [I] did it then… to let them know that there are more who believe that they are racist fanatics and that we are more than them.

Cohen, who drove 2.25 hours each way from Salem to Auburn, wanted to get a clear message that SHFA’s xenophobic actions are not welcome in most states. He also wanted to show his support because their actions are dangerous for most Americans.

“It is important that we stand in solidarity with and support all those white supremacists, anti-Muslims, anti-Semites and anti-TBQIG + are trying to marginalize,” he told the Rainbow Times by email. “They are dangerous, creating fear wherever they go, and it is only when we unite that they will understand that they will not prevail.”

mass quality

Photo: Mass equality

Although a few people drove by and yelled at them, most of the time went without incident, according to Neslusan.

“We had a few people yelling at us, but for the most part we were getting honks and waves of support,” Neslusan added. “We spoke with the Auburn police before the event and agreed that the police presence was not necessary, but they passed several times and one of the police stopped at a given time just to watch over us. and make sure no one is giving us trouble.

Although it was a last-minute protest, there were apparently more counter-protesters than those attending SHFA’s fundraising event, according to Cohen.

“The police wouldn’t let us approach within a mile and when I left I tried to find them, but couldn’t,” Cohen said. “[I] was said [it] was a very small group. The welcome from those driving next to us was excellent, at least [there were] 30-1 support us.

SHFA context

In a report by Rainbow times in August 2019 of the Straight Pride Parade, SHFA aka John Hugo, organizer of the Parade, wrote via their website that they then organized the event to “achieve inclusiveness and raise awareness of issues impacting straight people “. Hugo, who has made his anti-LGBQ and Trans statements in the past via social media, wanted his “right flag” to be hoisted at town hall, according to a Fox News Interview in June 2019.

Most of the time, straight white men at the time of the Straight Pride Parade, with obscuring clothing – MAGA hats, sunglasses, American flag bandanas, to conceal their identities – attended the parade while holding signs in favor. of Trump’s re-election campaign, and then holding damaging placards against oppressed groups. Some of the signs say: “Make normal again normal; United America 1st; Flag, Nation, God; Drain the swamp; Secure the American borders; 2020 Trump; We believe in God; It’s great to be straight; and another banner displaying a cartoon of Trump knocking the crowd down.

“This was clearly a parade rooted in white supremacy and a blatant Trump 2020 re-election event,” said Noelle Nickerson *, a counter-protester, in 2019. “It was evident that the protesters and their message had nothing to do with mere pride, and everything to do with keeping the majority in power.

The implication of MassEquality

MassEquality, in the latter case, has taken direct action to oppose the spread of hatred and the promotion of insurgency and disinformation in the community.

While MassEquality supports the right of all Americans to lawfully assemble, the organization also supports the right of counter-protesters to assemble and peacefully express their concern about the motives or message of those gathered and as “Organization that promotes equality experienced for all members” of their community. , Neslusan said: “We cannot stand idly by and let hate unchecked.”

Mass Equality is the leading statewide human rights organization working to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave free from discrimination and oppression based on the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We work in partnership across identities, issues and communities to build a broad, inclusive and politically powerful movement that changes hearts and minds and achieves political and electoral victories.

[Originally published in the August 12, 2021 Issue of The Rainbow Times].

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