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Anti-LGBT vandalism highlights community’s struggles during Pride Month

Frequent anti-LGBT vandalism in downtown reinforces the community’s determination during Pride Month.

Image By: Thomas Yonash

For many LGBT individuals, the month of June means more than just another summer month. June is Pride Month, a month-long celebration of the LGBT community and its impact locally and globally. The month will invariably be highlighted by Pride parades in every major city across the country, with rainbow flags waving in the streets and on the buildings. But for some, the month serves as a stark reminder of the barriers that LGBT individuals still face in America.

Patrick Farabaugh, the publisher of the Madison-based LGBT magazine Our Lives, knows all too well how tough it can be for that community. On May 18, the Our Lives staff arrived at work to discover that a rock had been thrown through the glass door in what Farabaugh suspects was a hate crime. Although surprising, the incident at the office comes after years of “regular vandalism” toward the distribution boxes that the magazine has set up around the downtown area.

Distribution boxes for other publications are also periodically vandalised according to Farabaugh, but not with the same intent. "The frequency that our boxes are getting targeted is quite a bit higher," he said. “And the vandalism isn’t just generic vandalism.”

The different methods of vandalism that Our Lives has seen range from torn-off labels to boxes stuffed full of trash to the outright theft of the boxes themselves. Three of Our Lives’ boxes have been stolen off of the sidewalk in the past few months. "I don't want people to think that I’m just running around yelling the sky is falling and over-dramatizing it because this really is something that’s happening exclusively to us," he said. “This is stuff that we have to deal with that I don't see other boxes having to deal with.”

Farabaugh estimates that boxes used to be targeted about once every two months, but the frequency has recently increased to every two weeks as a result of what he calls “weaponized rhetoric” from President Trump and the Republican Party. "They don't try to hide that with LGBTQ stuff,” Farabaugh said. “It's just out in the open and blatant against us."

With the vandalism at their office coming soon before Pride Month, Farabaugh says that it has helped to reinforce his thoughts on the necessity of the month. He recognizes that it can be easy to be insulated and to think that anti-LGBT discrimination is a thing of the past. However, he believes it is important to recognize that some LGBT individuals, transgender women of color in particular, must live their lives “centered around survival and the right to exist.”

Pride Month 2018 ends on June 30, but that does not mean the struggle from the LGBT community will be over. Anti-LGBT vandalism is sure to continue for the foreseeable future, and although it serves as a stark reminder of the obstacles facing the community, it also reminds everyone of the necessity of Pride Month in the first place.

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