Flying Progress Pride in the Face of Online Hate

Jun 24, 2024 | Real life, Sapphic | 0 comments

German-born author Jae is a dynamo in the sapphic literature community, famous for writing relatable, slow-burn romances. One of the most successful writers in the history of Ylva Publishing, the sapphic romance specialists, Jae has won numerous literary awards for her oeuvre, 24 books to date.

But Jae is not only a powerful author, avidly supporting other sapphic writers on social media and her website with, for example, her annual reading challenge, Sapphic Book Bingo. She is equally upfront about taking a strong stance against homophobia, transphobia & fascism. And doing that is not always easy.

This June, Jae is holding an immensely popular Pride Reads Celebration. That’s 30 days of fantastic sapphic reads featuring works from 80 popular authors in the sapphic fiction community. So far, 56,000+ readers have visited the events page, with people from 65 countries entering the giveaways.

“Unfortunately,” says Jae in a recent newsletter, “the event has also attracted a lot of homophobic comments. From day one, I had about two dozen homophobic comments on each post, but it got worse every day, especially on my Facebook page (not my Facebook group). After one of my daily posts received 400+ homophobic comments, I had to block anyone who wasn’t already following me from commenting. Sadly, the hateful comments kept coming, now via DMs and even a couple via email.”

In the ten years since Jae started organizing sapphic book events, she has never seen anything like so many hateful comments and never anything as aggressive and violent. While most of the hate comes from white cis het men, Jae was especially sad to see a handful of hateful comments coming from people within the sapphic community, who criticized her for using the newest version of the Progress Pride flag to illustrate the daily doors of her Pride event. Some critics were clearly transphobic, others were simply misinformed. These people said that the original rainbow Pride flag represents everyone equally and that using the newest version of the Progress Pride flag—which has extra elements for trans, nonbinary and BIPOC people and, now also, intersex people—would cause division in the community.

Pushing back against the phobics, Jae says, “There’s no ‘right’ flag to use. I’m using the new Progress Pride flag for my daily doors because while equality is the goal, it’s not yet a reality. I strongly believe that we are all part of the same community and should be equal, but as a white cis lesbian, I can acknowledge that there are identities in our community who often don’t feel seen, who are underrepresented, and who experience added layers of hate and discrimination. That includes LGBTQIA+ people of color, intersex people, trans people, and nonbinary people.”

Jae continues, “The newest version of the Progress Pride flag signals to trans, nonbinary, intersex, and BIPOC people that my online book event welcomes them and is safe for them to participate in because I won’t allow any transphobic comments, racists comments, or any other discrimination. I hope that’s something everyone in the sapphic community can support.”

On a more cheerful note, despite the rain this year, Jae marched in her local Pride parade, called Christopher Street Day in Germany. “It was wonderful to see so many people—12,000 people, which is more than ever before in Freiburg—celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and take a stance against homophobia, transphobia & fascism. It was a great day, which balanced out some of the online hostility and homophobia.”

Further reading

Get to know Jae
The Progress Pride flag, designed by Daniel Quasar. “I love seeing anyone using the flag in a way that makes them happy and proud to be themselves.” — Daniel Quasar

Frolicky footnote

In 2024, the Netherlands celebrated Pride Month in the northern city of Groningen. Highlight of Pink Saturday (June 22) was the performance by Dutch diva Willeke Alberti, who enthralled the huge crowd of happily lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual and nonbinary+ marchers—as well as heterosexual allies—gathered on the Grote Markt. Photo by Richard Brouwer von Gonzenbach


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