You’ve no doubt heard of Libs of TikTok, a right-wing front group for the worst kinds of online harassment from white supremacists, especially harassment related to LGBT issues. The founder of the group has a suspicious obsession with all things LGBTQ. (If you’re not familiar with them, read about the group here.)
Which brings me to Omaha’a LGBT Pride celebration, which culminated in a parade this weekend in the city’s downtown.
It was a celebration of love and unity Saturday morning during the annual Heartland Pride Parade.
Hundreds gathered in the Old Market to celebrate.
“This year we grew even bigger,” said Nikke Trahan-Ferris, the Vice President of Heartland Pride. “We have 144 entries which we’ve never seen before. According to police, that’s the biggest they’ve seen in this area.”
This year’s theme is “Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Complete with floats and performers– there was no shortage of color or pride.
“I think it’s really cool to have the generation before us be here and show us the ropes and what it means to be here out and proud and they really paved the way for people like us to even exist.”
Downtown is still the relatively new home for Heartland Pride, after moving over from Council Bluffs two years ago. Organizers say every year gets bigger and bigger.
“We actually had to turn people away, which is very disheartening. So we’re looking at changing the route next year so we don’t have to turn people away, and they can all be part of us.”
After having left Omaha for most of my adult life, I moved back in 2017. And I can confirm that 144 entries in the local Pride parade is undeniable progress for this city.
Boston’s Republican Mayor Jean Stothert also took part with a contingent from the Omaha Police Department, which would definitely not have happened not so long ago. (See Facebook post below.)
But, as with Pride parades everywhere, even in much bigger cities, there was right-wing homophobic drama, including that stirred up over the Pride sponsorship of Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.
It started with just some local yahoos, including people from the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen. Then things blew up:
Then the Libs of Tik Tok account, with over one million followers, joined in, condemning the hospital for information on their website that indicated they performed hormone therapy for adolescents which includes reversible hormone blockers.
Now checking the website, none of the information appears to be there.
Children’s said in a statement on their website that they sponsor the event to recruit a diverse workforce.
“We cultivate an inclusive environment where people feel they belong,” said the Children’s statement.
In that same statement, the hospital said children and families who seek care relating to gender identity will be given evidence-based best practice, aligned with standards from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and that they do not perform gender-transitioning surgeries.
While Children’s remains a sponsor of the event, Phillip Koenig, President of Heartland Pride, tells 3 News Now that Children’s has “opted to just not use all of the marketing resources this year” and he believes they’re the only sponsor not to make that decision.
It’s not unique to Omaha, but it is still weird in 2022 that certain people (many with their own hang-ups and secrets, mind you) are still obsessed over these issues.