Content Warnings: Homophobia, shootings, suicide
As sad as it is, none of us are shocked when homophobia runs rampant in our society anymore. Mass tragedies have occured like the 2016 Pulse Shooting at an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) club in Orlando, Florida. I remember watching the news coverage on Pulse at 13 years old and bawling my eyes out. Today at 17, I just went and sobbed to my mom about how I don't want to die just for loving the same sex. The Trevor Project estimates that almost 2 million LGBTQ+ individuals aged 13-24 seriously consider suicide every year. Every. Single. Year. We are scared. We are out and we are proud, but we are so scared to be slaughtered and forgotten because of how we identify or who we love.
What is Operation Pridefall?
Ever heard of the bulletin board site 4chan? The site has been around since 2003, and many folks say it's a breeding ground for toxicity that's past its prime. It has also been described as "an edgier reddit kept alive by shock value and teenagers". The picture I paint of it is not a pretty one, and for good reason. 4chan is the homebase of Operation Pridefall (OP), a massive cyber attack on the LGBTQ+ community set during our month of June. OP is being planned as I write this, led by anti-LGBTQ+ extremists and that's terrifying. Operation Pridefall is about raiding LGBTQ+ safe spaces, boycotting supportive brands and influencers, and trying to silence LGBTQ+ voices.
Why is Operation Pridefall so scary?
While it's true that the LGBTQ+ community has been targeted for centuries, forced into closets, shamed, and murdered like other minorities, this is frightening because it's so large and targeted. Even in quarantine, homophobes are trying to find a way to attack LGBTQ+ individuals. They have no mission but hatred and misery, and they're united on the common ground of hurting us because we're different. The individuals behind Operation Pridefall specifically chose to desecrate the month of June, to invade safe spaces during a month meant to commemorate everything the community has been through. June is Pride Month because we fight for our right to be proud, to legalize our identities, to marry who we love, and most of all, to not be murdered or attacked for our differences. Statista estimates that over 4.5 billion people used the internet daily in April of 2020. If even half of those individuals, if even five percent of them join Operation Pridefall, it would be devasting.
What should I do to stay safe?
As much as it saddens me, a lot of resources are saying hide your pride until it all blows over. Make every social media account private. Remove LGBTQ+ identifiers from your account. Stop discussing pride-related things on public forums. While it will keep you safer, it also means they win. It's up to each and every individual what they do about this. If you need to stay safe and choose to hide, it is okay. I love you. You are valid. Protect yourself.
What are you doing during Operation Pridefall?
Everything I can. I will not hide my identity. I will not stop using social media. I will not stop discussing my identity and how proud I am of the person I've become. I'm a content creator with social media and a blog, so I will continue to use Instagram, Twitter, Discord, and any other site I happen to use. I will keep talking about this. I will not let these extreme terrorists take away the love I feel for myself as an LGBTQ+ individual. I fought for this. I bled for this. The LGBTQ+ individuals who came before us suffered to give us a better shot at being welcomed and safe in our society. I'm using my platform to spread the word and raise awareness. I'm doing all I can.
I know this is a scary time. We are all stuck indoors, trying to return to normal slowly and already shaken. Do what you must to keep yourself safe. Do what you can to protect others. To all those who have wept, bled, and fought for the LGBTQ+ community: thank you. I love you. We are making a difference.
P.S. For the first time, the image at the top of this article is mine. I am a proud, queer individual and I will not be shaken nor will I negotiate with hostile domestic terrorists.
An article from an LGBT site, PinkNews
My own blog, where I will keep fighting (Hiraeth Vellichor)
A masterlist of resources to help those in crisis (helpline masterlist)