Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims is best known for responding to a visit from Vice President Mike Pence to his city by raising his middle finger and saying, “To be clear, we’re a City of soaring diversity…So keep that in mind while you’re here raising money to attack more families, spread more lies, blaspheme with your bible, and maybe even talk to a woman without your wife in the room.” He ended his post declaring, “So…get bent, then get out!”
LGBT media cheered on the display of “resistance” during gay pride month. Then, just a few days ago, Sims filmed himself berating an elderly woman who stood in front of Philadelphia’s Planned Parenthood quietly praying. In a tweet posting his video he said, “Push back against Planned Parenthood protestors, PLEASE! They prey on young women, they use white privilege, & shame. They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition. Push back, please! #YouAreStrongEnough.”
He then began recording the woman while asking his followers to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood for every hour she stood praying. He approached her and asked, “How many children have you clothed today? How many shoes have you put on children today? How many have you fed? Or have you spent all day standing outside Planned Parenthood shaming people for what they have a constitutional right to do?” The woman ignored him and continued praying.
For nine minutes Sims berated the woman with growing aggressiveness, calling her a “racist,” “disgusting,” and referring to her as an “old white lady” who is telling people what they can do with their bodies. As of this writing, the video has nearly 600,000 views.
Push back against Planned Parenthood protestors, PLEASE! They prey on young women, they use white privilege, & shame. They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition. Push back, please! #YouAreStrongEnough https://t.co/rYQOiAhC0D
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) May 2, 2019
Writing for a local Philadelphia paper in response, Christine Flowers argues correctly, “I am extremely troubled by the fact that a man who is paid by our tax dollars feels it is appropriate to publicly shame one of those taxpayers just because he disagrees with her.”
In a previous video Sims approached four women praying outside the Planned Parenthood and told his followers he would give anyone who could identify them $100. He then berated the peaceful protesters as not being real Christians. They tried to explain their purpose, but he ignored them.
Repentance Is the Last Thing on Sims’s Mind
The pro-life organization Live Action posted the video to their followers saying, “WATCH: Pennsylvania State Representative @BrianSimsPA harasses an elderly woman who is peacefully advocating for the lives of preborn human beings and women who are considering abortion. This is shameful.” Sims responded, “Bring it, Bible Bullies! You are bigots, sexists, and misogynists and I see right through your fake morals and your broken values. #BeReal.”
After a great deal of backlash he defiantly posted, “‘Don’t discriminate against our discrimination. Don’t bully our bullies. Don’t hate our haters.’ – [P-ssy] Grabbers and Baby Cagers.” This has become a common response to overt bigotry from the left, especially within LGBT circles. They view any response to “bad” people as justified. This angry, aggressive, and abusive mindset drives much of LGBT advocacy today.
In an interview in April, Sims ironically said, “In my six years in government as a civil rights attorney, LGBTQ advocate, and activist, I learned one thing that I think makes for good government: it’s empathy. It sounds kind and sweet to hear a cis white man say that, but what I mean is the more the substance of empathy. Empathy is about putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. And being a good legislator is about having the ability to do that.”
From those with Sim’s perspective, the world is divided into good and bad people and it is the responsibility of the good people to shame and shun the bad ones. When he sees an elderly lady praying quietly to herself, he sees what he believes to be an oppressive movement designed to harm others. He feels justified in hostility because he believes her very existence is hostile to others. He genuinely believes he is fighting for the right cause in the strongest way possible for people he views as vulnerable and attacked. He simply cannot imagine empathy for anyone he determines is a “bad” person.
This Will Obviously Backfire on Gay People
In 2018 after Sims won re-election, LGBTQ Nation gushed, “Sims, a liberal firebrand, is known for his nonstop advocacy for LGBTQ rights and his unique take on politics. He’s popular on social media and in queer media.” In another LGBT media profile, Queerty began an interview with the author musing, “Brian Sims reminds me of that older next-door neighbor gay kids might have had crushes on in elementary school: sexy and smart, and so friendly we almost didn’t feel like outcasts when we were in his presence. And like those guys, our imaginations would run to the impossible dream: If only a man like that could be gay.”
Sims’s aggressive and hostile interactions with anyone who challenges him, or whom he views as a “bigot,” is reminiscent of the early days of the gay rights movement. For many gay people, this in-your-face, open rage, and bullying is a sign of strength and progress.
While Sims may believe he is fighting for what is right and may indeed be helping a great many people, he does not realize, or possibly care, the damage he is doing to the movement. Unfortunately, none of the current generation of LGBT activists does.
Despite the glory of movies and historical revisionism of a heroic, rebellious LGBT movement, to most people these kinds of tactics come off as arrogant bullying. Angry protestors screaming insults and shouting profanity is not appealing to anyone outside of the movement. It is not a show of strength, and it is certainly not effective in winning people over. In truth, it is more likely to energize an otherwise tolerant population into opposition.
This Is Not How to Advocate for Gay Rights
What does it mean to be an LGBT rights advocate today? From what we see most often, it appears to require a great deal of anger, hostility, and self-righteous intolerance. This is not merely a biased opinion of political opponents, it just seems to be the way the left chooses to promote LGBT people in media.
It also appears to be a narrow generational mentality in current LGBT leadership. Last-generation LGBT advocates like Ellen DeGeneres and RuPaul embraced society’s curiosity and discomfort. They used humor, empathy, and personality to allow the broader population to wade in gently and get a good look around at what gay mainstream culture had to offer. Instead, today’s LGBT leaders are harsh, full of rage and indignation, and eager to start a fight and demonize their opponents.
LGBT advocacy today comes from a place of rage and hatred. It is built on the assumption that to achieve equality, advocates must break through the doors, intimidate the naysayers, and take over the loudspeakers. It is a movement of obnoxious lecturing, silencing, intimidation, bullying, and bitter rage that does little more than validate their prejudices.
It is undermining, with dynamite, the foundation Ellen and RuPaul built carefully just a few decades ago, and it is creating animosity in otherwise polite people. No one should praise an adult man for harassing an elderly woman or attempting to publicly humiliate and intimidate several women peacefully praying on the sidewalk, no matter how passionately he opposes their beliefs.
More importantly, our elected leaders should be held to a higher standard and should not harass citizens practicing their civil rights. If Sims’s driving goal is empathy, he needs to genuinely address his own deeply held bigotry and speak to those he disagrees with, not shout at and shame them on camera. If LGBT people want to keep the social acceptance they’ve fought so long for, they need to stop promoting such hateful voices as their leaders as well.