Metro Weekly

The LGBTQ Community is Leading the Way to a Better World

From Taipei to Tbilisi, we are the "joyful warriors" on the the front lines of global equality.

kamala harris, douglas emhoff, vice president, lgbtq, dc, pride, pride walk, vice president
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at the 2021 DC Pride Walk — Photo: Twitter

If ever you needed a moment of clarity, an obvious overview of the battle lines, you got it mid-May. The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), May 17, essentially set the tone. Granted, I might not have even noticed were it not for our wonderful vice president’s Instagram post celebrating the day.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and accepted for who they are,” Kamala Harris wrote. “On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, we continue our work to ensure LGBTQI+ people everywhere are protected from all forms of violence and discrimination.”

Thanks very much, Mme. Veep. In this battle, you are most certainly on my side — the same side, presumably, as nearly everyone reading this — as you have been for years.

The same day, the federal government issued a starker statement, further clarifying this ain’t all about rainbows and glitter. “The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” reads the May 17 Worldwide Caution, in part.

A couple of days prior, on May 15, a scene-stealing performance in Taiwan reminded us, however, that rainbows and glitter can be as political as any manifesto. On that glorious mid-May day, a sextet of drag queens bedecked in the colors of the rainbow, led by RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Nymphia Wind (aka Leo Tsao), took to the main staircase in Taiwan’s Presidential Office Building.

Wind, in yellow to represent the yellow water lily, performed for outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, the nation’s first female president. Wind also thanked Tsai for all she’s brought to the island nation, claimed by its bullying big brother, the People’s Republic of China.

“Thank you for your contributions to this country, so that I could grow up to be like this today,” Wind said to Tsai, as reported by CNN. “Thank you for your eight years of dedication, becoming our Taiwan mother.”

Tsai returned the favor, reckoning the building had never before been “so lively, filled with vibrant colors and so many beautiful people,” as translated by Focus Taiwan. “I believe Nymphia’s journey of growth will also inspire many young people in Taiwan to be courageous to stay true to themselves without fear.”

Meanwhile, back in the PROC, a June 2023 NBC News story advised the Beijing LGBT Center was shuttering after 15 years. It wasn’t alone.

“In 2019, Chengdu Milk LGBT Service Center announced that it would cease operations,” NBC News further reported. “In 2020, Shanghai Pride, which held China’s only major annual LGBTQ celebration, said it was suspending all activities after 11 years in existence. LGBT Rights Advocacy China, which had led major legal cases, shut down the following year, months after dozens of LGBTQ accounts run by university students were deleted from the WeChat social media platform.”

President Xi Jinping is no friend.

During Tsai’s time as president, 2016 to 2024, she fought fiercely for her nation, helping Taiwan become the first Asian nation with same-sex marriage, passing that law on May 17, 2019. Nepal followed last month, and Thailand’s lower house of Parliament approved in March — by a huge margin — a law to recognize same-sex marriage. With particular carve-outs, these efforts aren’t absolute marriage equality, but they mark undeniable progress and bright spots for freedom. Which, as Americans, we love, right? Go, Freedom!

Maybe not. Some Americans seem ga-ga enamored of Pooty (aka Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, aka The Topless Terror) and his rapidly regressing Russia. Tucker Carlson, J.D. Vance, Marjorie Greene, and Donald Trump come to mind.

Pooty is obviously a freedom-crushing autocrat, but that doesn’t bother folks on the other side of the battle line. They may admire him. They express this admiration by attacking Ukraine. Not with the bombs Pooty delivers daily, but with cuckoo conspiracy theories and undermining U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense.

Ukraine may not be the LGBTQ oasis Taiwan is, but it’s light years beyond Russia. On the IDAHOTB, we could clearly see the same holds true for Georgia. As the Kremlin-leaning government pushed through a Pooty-stinking bill regarding “foreign agents” on May 14, the young generation of Georgians that longs to lean into Europe has been protesting fiercely against this tool used in other Kremlin-kissing locales to crush dissent.

And the Georgian ruling party has been beating them down in response. While their protests were quieter come May 17, thousands of Georgians filled the same public spaces of Tbilisi for a government-supported Family Purity Day.

“Declared an official government holiday this year,” Reuters reports, “the ‘Day of Family Purity and Respect for Parents’ celebrates what the Georgian Orthodox Church calls the country’s ‘family values’ of marriage between a man and a woman…. [The ruling party] introduced a bill in March that would ban sex changes and adoption by same-sex couples, among other restrictions, a move seen by opponents as an attempt to boost its popularity ahead of elections later this year.”

Because these are the battle lines. How a country or a government treats its resident LGBTQ community is the litmus test of our times. Whereas it may have once been an ethnic minority, religious minority, an oppressed majority, or women, it’s now us. Granted, these forms of oppression remain in abundance, but we’re the worldwide, low-hanging fruit of persecution politics.

The Queer rainbow now has as much to do with freedom, individual rights, progressive values, liberty, equality, multiculturalism and pluralism as it does with sexual orientation and identity. Whether we like it or not, it is a global battle flag. That’s why Pooty banned it.

The horrible Moms for Liberty may have co-opted the phrase, but I’m still giving credit where due and thanking Kamala Harris for popularizing the phrase “joyful warrior.” In this battle, let’s all be joyful warriors, kick ass, and lead the way to a better world.

Will O’Bryan is a former Metro Weekly managing editor, living in D.C. with his husband. He is online at

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