Growing up as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans individual presents itself with a very different and unique set of challenges ― even in today’s world ― but doing so throughout the pre-LGBT rights period of time was extremely difficult. This is not to say that people can not relate as I feel that anyone that has known struggle knows that it is real. Also, I am not comparing the strife to that of anyone else. This is not a contest. Ridicule and bullying play an all too real role in development and I have written extensively on my thoughts regarding heterosexism and the misogyny associated with homophobia.
My point, in this article, is to point out a real looming feeling that most of us within the LGBT community are currently feeling. It’s easy to sit back as a person not affected by bigotry, of any kind, and say just give things a chance. Your privilege gives you the room to wait and see. However, for those of us who have actual skin in the game, the ongoing developments in our country are extremely discouraging and frightening.
Most love to argue that Donald Trump said outwardly that he feels “Gay Marriage” has been settled. They expect it to be left at that. The problem with that hypothesis is that it just does not carry any weight. There is no factual evidence that Trump is an ideologue of any sort, being instead quite pragmatic, and is in fact an empty vessel for the movement in which he has spawned. A movement that is filled with racism, homophobia, misogyny, and religious intolerance. It also, beyond the Trumpkins, just makes absolutely no sense from a legislative point of view. In one utterance he says he is fine with gay marriage but in the next pledges to nominate Supreme Court justices who favor repealing Roe vs Wade. The problem with this defense is that the two are not mutually exclusive. Almost any potential candidate that supports repealing abortion law is going to be a deeply conservative think tank and will, quite probably, also favor repealing Obergefell. You can’t say that things have been “settled” when it comes to marriage equality but then say a decades old law regarding abortion rights is free game. The only power the executive branch has over the legislative is whom gets nominated. After that, they are free to pick up any case and are able to rule on such cases in any manner they deem appropriate.
Your privilege gives you the room to wait and see. However, for those of us who have actual skin in the game, the ongoing developments in our country are extremely frightening.
Beyond the obvious state of marriage equality, there is also a real and present danger when it comes to countless Obama executive orders that have made the lives of many LGBT much more safe and tolerable. Most of which Trump has, on record, stated that he is in favor of overturning right away. The lives of our trans brothers and sisters, while still quite difficult, have seen enormous progress in a short amount of time under President Obama. These include such things as expanding prevention of bullying and hate crimes associated with LGBT Americans, supporting LGBT health, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Anti-Discriminatory Measures, taking steps to ensure LGBT equality in housing and crime prevention, and recognizing the pivotal role our community has played throughout history.
There is also much more work that needs to be done. Most don’t know, for example, that in most states it is still completely acceptable and legal to be fired for being gay. My home state of Texas is one that leaves no legal recourse other than applying for unemployment. Trust me, as I have had it happened to me. As we have seen, throughout history, leaving basic rights up to the will of the majority or at the mercy of free trade does nothing to progress equality. The entire point of our Bill of Rights is to protect the most disenfranchised from the majority.
“I can tell you I’m pretty hopeful based on what Donald Trump has said over the last year,” says Kerri Kupec, legal communications director for the Alliance Defending Freedom. “In September 2015, he said that his first priority if elected president ... would be to preserve and protect our religious liberty.”
Kupec says religious liberty will be tested in a case to be heard next week before the Washington State Supreme Court. A floral designer is accused of discriminating against a gay customer after declining to do the flower arrangements for his wedding.What does this have to do with Trump’s election? Kupec says the case could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court, to which she expects President-elect Trump will appoint justices who will be sympathetic to claims of religious liberty. A code term most of us have seen used countless times for being sympathetic against LGBT rights.
In the last eight years, a real shift in opinion has occurred regarding my community within the general public. At the bottom of our plight is public opinion and bigotry, not all of which can be regulated. However, because of the overall change in consensus regarding us there has been increased support from all angles. The evolution of perception showing a quite profound change in such a small period of time. It brings me great happiness to know that an increasing number of LGBT youth will not be faced with the same sort of discrimination and hatred that I did growing up. However, my biggest concern under a Trump presidency, is the overall shift we have seen just in the last year regarding this type of behavior. I receive hundreds of anti-gay messages throughout social media every day and, while I am equipped to deal with such things, not everyone is able to process the bigotry.
Trump has fostered and given all forms of hatred an avenue to be heard and an overall validation with his own rhetoric. Our commander in chief should be a beacon for the disheartened not an infestation of the vile alt-right. Just within the short amount of time since the election, Trump has floated multiple names out as part of his staff that are vehemently antigGay in belief, rhetoric, and overall legislative history. There has been a rise of anti-LGBT crimes since the election and the hate induced rhetoric is at an all time high. There have been countless reports of homophobic remarks and attacks in the wake of the election results.
There is no other better example of the before mentioned homophobic parts of the Trump campaign than in our newest vice president-elect, Mike Pence. A person who has been able to, very successfully might I add, shield himself from much scrutiny at all this election cycle. Considering that Pence is really the only adult in the room so far when it comes to actually having governing experience it should really of great concern to our community. There are very few as unequivocally anti-gay as Mike Pence. Rachel Maddow, the first lesbian to host a primetime news show, called Pence the “most vociferously and consistently anti-gay statewide elected official in the country.” During his career as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and governor of Indiana, Pence has said that federal funding should be diverted away from HIV/AIDS treatment programs and advocated for public funding toward conversion therapy, voted against a law that would prohibit discrimination of LGBT individuals in the workplace and said gay couples signaled a “societal collapse.”
“Mike Pence is really, really out there on his anti-gay politics,” Maddow said. “He’s on the very edge of the branch, on the very edge of the twig, on the end of the branch, on the last leaf on that twig.” It is quite surprising Pence’s stance on gay rights didn’t come up during the campaign — especially because President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t taken a firm stance on the issue. “You think it would have gotten at least some attention,” Maddow said. “But in fact, no one paid much attention to it all. And honestly, I think it’s because no one paid much attention to Mike Pence at all.”
Numerous studies have shown that lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual youth have a higher rate of suicide attempts than do heterosexual youth. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center synthesized these studies and estimated that between 30-40 percent of LGBT youth, depending on age and sex groups, have attempted suicide. These are staggering facts that show that the rhetoric used towards LGBT children should always be of the utmost importance. It is our job to make sure that everyone knows they are worthy of love.
We must remain hopeful that Trump can be trusted with the future of LGBT acceptance, but it undoubtedly is a very tough pill to swallow. All that we can do is continue to fight back against injustice, in all forms, and use our voice to speak out against all forms of bigotry. It is imperative for the future of the next generation for us to not allow the rock to roll backwards.