The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest

James+Lindsay+speaks+at+an+event+hosted+by+Turning+Point+USA+at+Pitt+on+Tuesday+evening+at+Alumni+Hall.+
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.

James Lindsay, author of “Cynical Theories,” staunchly defended his assertion that “Queer theory is the doctrine of a religious cult” at Turning Point USA at Pitt’s event in Alumni Hall on Feb. 20. The event was met with a protest outside of the building organized by Trans Action Building.

The protesters, who were brought together by Trans Action Building, dressed as clowns and chanted “Who are the real clowns?” at Turning Point members as they entered the event.

“We just don’t think that these speakers deserve to be platformed, and that they themselves are clowns,” Stephanie, a Pitt alum, said.

Past Turning Point speakers include Riley Gaines, a former swimmer who speaks against allowing transgender women into sports, and Cabot Phillips, a right-wing commentator. Both events were met with protests and opposition, including groups of around 300 people for Phillips’ event.

Protesters argue with Turning Point USA at Pitt members from across the street before the speaker event with James Lindsay on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Lindsay opened up the event by disavowing “queer theory” and comparing it to a cult. 

“Queer theory is the doctrine of a religious cult,” Lindsay said. “That cult is based on sex. That cult primarily targets children and that cult has virtually nothing to do with gay people.”

According to Stephanie, Lindsay “popularized calling gay people groomers.”

“Only a couple weeks ago, in a different state, a teenager was beaten in a school bathroom for being trans,” Stephanie said. “And so hate speech, this rhetoric, calling LGBTQ people groomers — all of it has real consequences. And we can’t stand for that here. We can’t stand for that at Pitt — we need to protect our LGTBQ community.”

On Feb. 7, a transgender student was bullied and beaten at Owasso High School in Oklahoma and died after sustaining injuries. This came shortly after Oklahoma passed legislation restricting gender identity expression, mandating individuals to use bathrooms that align with their assigned birth gender. 

James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening inside the Connolly Ballroom at Alumni Hall. About 45 people were in attendance. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Farah Mili, a junior psychology major, said they find Lindsay’s presence on Pitt’s campus “repulsive.” 

“I’m here protesting because Turning Point USA is bringing in a guy who I quite frankly am embarrassed to have on my campus,” Mili said, “I don’t really think it behooves Pitt to have this on their campus.” 

Lindsay emphasized his belief that queer education is “indoctrinating” children and “emotionally manipulating” them into following a “sex-based cult.” He said there were multiple reasons why he thinks children are targeted.

“One, they’re a captive audience in their schools,” Lindsay said. “They can’t get away. Two, they have not yet gone through the cortical formation of their brain where they can satisfactorily differentiate between fantasy and reality, and three, because they’re generally very vulnerable.”

Mili said the idea for protestors to dress as clowns was to “annoy as many of them as possible.”

“They like to record us a lot and make fun of us,” Mili said. “I don’t think that’s fair. You can’t make fun of a clown for being a clown. That’s it.”

During the event, Lindsay said identifying as queer is a political stance that is “defiant opposition” against legitimacy.

“That has very little to do with gay people,” Lindsay said. “Unlike gay identity, which is real, queer is not an identity at all. It is a political position against the normal, the legitimate and the dominant. You cannot be ‘queer’ queer. You can only act queer.”

Lindsay believes that this event was delayed several times because of “milieu control,” which he thinks was present during Mao Zedong’s leadership in China. He said the reason that the control is not as strict is because of the “Constitution or First Amendment.”

“You have to control the environment of people in a cult completely,” Lindsay said. “You have to control the milieu so that all that they see and all the experience reflects back on the cult. You don’t allow alternative ideas to enter into the cult environment or people in the cult environment.”

James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening inside the Connolly Ballroom at Alumni Hall. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Trans Action Building calls for resource center funding, trans-inclusive health care and housing, “all of which could be done with some of the funding that’s been provided to have security at these hateful, heinous events,” Stephanie said. 

“We call on Pitt to actually resource our [queer] community instead of covering fees for these hateful speakers,” Stephanie said. “We know from past events that those security fees have been up to $18,000, and that’s absurd to be covering with our [tuition] money.” 

Towards the end, Lindsay opened up the event to questions. One student asked if queer theory is a “manifestation of satanism,” to which he responded that he believes “Queer theory opens the gates to hell.” 

“If you define it as the worship of the self, I think it’s actually undeniable that they set themselves as a sacred object that is spiritually pure and imposed upon by the outside,” Lindsay said. “Let me be clear — yes.”

Mili asserted that as long as Turning Point hosts speakers like Lindsay, there will be opposition protests.

“It just feels like Pitt has sort of been hoping this will all go away,” Mili said. “We hope to show Pitt that we’re gonna walk the walk.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new information about the student’s death at Owasso High School in Oklahoma, as well as to remove grammatical errors.

About the Contributors
Briana Bindus, Staff Writer
Khushi Rai, Senior Staff Writer