Make America Gay Again
With the new Trump/Pence Republican duo approaching office, should the LGBTQI community be worried for their social safety?
By Olivia Wickstrom, Portland State University
“Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”—via Donald Trump’s Twitter @realDonaldTrump
As I sit down to write this article, I’m shocked.
Not at the election results (I mean, that’s pretty shocking too), but at the fact that I’m writing an article concerning politics. I’ve never been one for governmental news; I get my daily dose of the world through arts and culture websites like “VICE” and “Frankie Magazine.” But now, as a queer woman in America, I’m paying attention.
I’ll admit, this is selfish; Now that politics actually concern me, I’m concerned. As soon as I discovered the results of the election, a series of “what if” scenarios began to overtake my mind: What if my girlfriend and I aren’t able to get married someday? What if we’re targeted on the street as a homosexual couple? What if we can’t openly express our love for one another without being confronted by hate?
I imagine that millions of gay millennials are feeling the same way right now. Up until this point, we’ve had it easy. Gay marriage has been legalized making our future with a queer partner possible, multiple gender identities have been recognized as “official” allowing self-expression and same-sex couples can now adopt in states across the nation. Don’t get me wrong, queer millennials have struggled to have their voices heard, and I’m not undermining that struggle. But it’s the generations before us that took on the burden of making a queer life a possible life, and it’s us who benefited from that burden. Compared to gay individuals in the 80s and 90s, we’ve rarely had to fight for our rights.
Rumors and fabrication have overwhelmed the media post-election, so let’s look at some specifics: What will Donald Trump initiate concerning the LGBTQI community during his presidency, and how will that community be affected? Surprisingly enough, Trump has been praised as “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party.” On top of this, he’s hinted at appointing an openly gay person to his presidential Cabinet. But despite these triumphs, there are still serious threats posed to the queer community by the new leader and his party.
Though Trump has claimed that he is “fine with same-sex marriage” and that the issue has been concluded by the Supreme Court settlement, when asked if he would appoint judges to overrule these decisions made by the Supreme Court, he responded with, “I would strongly consider that, yes.” In addition to this, Vice President Mike Pence has noted that a “societal collapse” would follow marriage equality. Though there are no direct threats, there are hints that the progress same-sex marriage has made may begin to decline rapidly.
And speaking of Mr. Vice President, let’s look at some of his past involvement with America’s gay community. In 2000, Pence endorsed freezing the funding of HIV/AIDS support and redirecting that money to organizations providing “assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” In 2015, Pence initiated the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” which allows individuals and businesses to exercise their religion and deny same-sex couples service. Though the conservative duo don’t directly attack America’s queer community, their actions and beliefs indirectly threaten it as well as the progress it’s made.
It comes down to this: Though Trump may personally “support” the LGBTQI community, his personal opinions don’t matter as “he will now be held to the G.O.P platform.” And it’s not only about Trump, it’s about Mike Pence and the Congress. It’s about their followers who will take discrimination to the extreme. And these individuals―in combination―may mean trouble for a queer America.
No longer feeling safe and recognized is a wake-up call for the young gay community. Donald Trump’s election is causing LGBTQI youth to realize we’re not as protected as we may think, and maybe the struggle for equality is far from over. It’s completely fucked up that we have to face discrimination for our so-called “choice” of being gay. But my plea to you fellow queer millennials is this: Keep going. Keep fighting.
Instead of being brought down by the election, get out there, volunteer. Save a young queer, transgender or bisexual life by serving at your nearest LGBTQI center. Reassure them that it will be okay despite the recent setbacks. Understand that it’s your turn to stand up for your rights, just like the gay advocates of the 80s and 90s. And please―I beg of you―don’t get violent. I live in Portland, Oregon, a city in which Trump riots have begun to take place nightly. Car windshields have been smashed, storefronts have been shattered and vandalism has painted its way through the city center. But violence isn’t the answer to not getting what we want―that’s child’s play. Violence contradicts our mission of universal love and acceptance.
Instead of reacting in hateful ways toward the outcome, we must remember that we are here to be the bigger person, the person that stands up to homophobia, racism and bigotry. This also means we stand up to destruction and anger. We must remember that the future of America depends on openness and acceptance. Trump’s America depends on u