The recent arrests of 31 people accused of planning to riot near a Pride parade in Idaho might be perplexing to some, but White supremacy goes beyond just intolerance for racial groups.
White supremacy has long been bound up with rigid views about gender, masculinity and sexuality.
Take a long-since-forgotten Ku Klux Klan raid on a gay nightclub in what’s today Miami-Dade County. In November 1937, nearly 200 members of the Klan, wearing spectral robes, publicly burned a cross during an induction ceremony.
Then they descended on La Paloma nightclub, where they assaulted patrons in an attempt to close a joint that the Klan saw as an affront to tradition.
Julio Capó Jr., an associate professor of history at Florida International University, analyzes how the raid and transnational forces shaped the city’s history in his 2017 book, “Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940.”
Capó has written before that the Klan claimed that its actions during the raid and elsewhere “represented its commitment to saving White homes, families, women and traditions.”
To further explore the White supremacist dynamics that were on display last weekend in Idaho, we spoke with Capó, whose research focuses on how gender and sexuality have historically intersected with ethnicity, race, class and other aspects of identity.
Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Why would White supremacists target a Pride event? Isn’t their bigotry focused elsewhere?
Homophobia is often rooted and embedded in anti-Blackness, in forms of White supremacy, including in building a particular vision of what the nation should look like or what they (White supremacists) imagine the nation should look like. Homophobia, whether it looks like an attack on a gay club or different forms of policy, is very much about White supremacy. Homophobia and White supremacy are often parts of the same structure.
The names of White supremacist groups change over time. But their core ambitions stay the same: They want to maintain a rigid social order. Could you give an example of a historical parallel that might put into context what happened last weekend?
As advances are made in, for example, LGBTQ rights, there’s a kind of fear among White supremacist groups that they’re losing their power. This story is now decades if not centuries old.
When I was writing my book, I uncovered a raid on a gay bar on the outskirts of Miami called La Paloma. It was raided in November 1937, but not by police. It was raided by nearly 200 members of the Ku Klux Klan.