The folks fueling the culture war, like the now disgraced Tucker Carlson, neo-nazi Nick Fuentes or the controversy-embroiled Steven Crowder, make up a small-but-vocal minority of American conservative thought. These commentators, who thrive on stirring up vitriol in their fanbase, operate political spin factories; they take simple issues, like that of equal rights or media representation for the LGBTQ community, and reframe them as attacks against Christianity, masculinity and family values writ large. In doing so, these incendiary talking heads create the illusion of a public that is entirely against the LGBTQ community.
The anti-LGBTQ society created by these commentators has one glaring issue: It is not anchored in reality. The majority of Americans believe in equal rights and more representation for the LGBTQ community, not less. According to GLAAD’s 2023 Accelerating Acceptance study, 84% of non-LGBTQ Americans support equal rights for the LGBTQ community. A full 91% agree that LGBTQ people should have the freedom to live their lives and not be discriminated against. (A separate poll shows support for marriage equality at 63%.)
Polls debunk Huckabee claims
Mike Huckabee says Americans have had it with the LGBTQ community. The former governor of Arkansas and a prominent Christian Nationalist, recently declared that Americans have had it with LGBTQ Pride and are finally waking up. Americans, however, clearly disagree. Concerning company support for the LGBTQ community, 70% of non-LGBTQ adults agree that companies should publicly support the LGBTQ community through hiring practices, advertising, and/or sponsorships.
Given that so many Americans are in favor of LGBTQ-themed advertising and sponsorships, who is engineering the boycotts against companies that have Pride displays? We need look no further than the conservative commentators and their Christian Nationalist base. By trashing Target stores, shooting Bud Light cans and creating a ruckus with the help of lawmakers and commentators, Christian Nationalists create the illusion of a discriminatory public. They use this illusion to make Huckabee seem right and to pressure brands that support the LGBTQ community.
Despite the high numbers reported in the GLAAD study, the LGBTQ community still faces rampant discrimination. Some of this is due to confusion and lack of understanding. GLAAD reports that 55% of non-LGBTQ Americans do not understand the dimensions of the LGBTQ community or how to describe individuals that make up the LGBTQ community. Less than 30% of those polled personally know a transgender person, and 50% say that transgender and nonbinary people are new to them.
Familiarity breeds support
This lack of contact with and understanding of the LGBTQ community makes representation all the more important. Respondents who were exposed to the LGBTQ community in media were 30% more likely to feel familiar with LGBTQ people than were respondents who did not have the same exposure. And 60% of adults agree that LGBTQ representation in advertisements makes them more comfortable with people who are different than themselves. Evidently, representation has a positive impact on increasing understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
While the general public is not in favor of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, conservative lawmakers’ attempts to limit the rights of LGBTQ people through discriminatory legislation is a problem of its own. Unlike the majority of Americans, who value equal rights for the LGBTQ community, lawmakers who propose, draft, or vote for anti-LGBTQ bills are complicit in discriminating against and harming the LGBTQ community. These lawmakers are cashing in on the faux-outrage culture war waged by Christian Nationalists to garner support for anti-gay and trans bills. We cannot allow their version of America – discriminatory and hateful – to be legislated into existence.