Well aren’t we lucky? We, the queer community in 2016, alive to see such a historic presidential race. To watch the partisan divide on LGBTQ issues collapse into a bipartisan orgy of love and acceptance. To know that even the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, would fiercely defend our rights in the White House, guarding against a rollback of our recently gained freedoms.
Apparently, for the first time in American history, the presidential nominees of both major parties are enthusiastic and unequivocal champions of the LGBTQ community.
This statement is, of course, ludicrous. But that hasn’t stopped the media from persistently promoting such a myth throughout the election campaign.
The New York Times has written that Trump’s acceptance of gay issues sets him apart in the G.O.P., while MSNBC has called Trump 2016’s most gay-friendly Republican. Mind you, being the most gay-friendly Republican is a bit like being the most gun control-friendly NRA executive, so the bar wasn’t set too high for the guy. Still, the news media seems to have seen something more in Trump, with the Boston Globe calling his nomination a “sea-change moment” for the queer movement, and TheWrap fawning over his “historic embrace” of the LGBTQ community.
Perhaps desperate to find some redeeming quality in Trump, these articles overlook the fact that he has promised to appoint Scalia-like judges to the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the legalization of gay marriage. They don’t mention that he would undo Obama’s executive orders protecting LGBTQ workers, and sign the anti-queer First Amendment Defense Act, sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people across the country. They ignore the fact that he is running on a platform that pledges to discourage gay people from adopting children and make conversion therapy – which can involve inducing vomiting or administering electric shocks to “patients” while they look at homoerotic images – legal for minors.
But hey, he nuzzled Rudy Giuliani while the New York City mayor was dressed in drag this one time 16 years ago. #acceptance.
But lets put all that aside for a moment. Trump’s stance on queer rights is irrelevant. Because even if Trump supported gay marriage, promoted queer adoption, embraced the trans* community, and fought against LGBTQ discrimination, he would still be the most anti-LGBTQ presidential candidate in recent history.
Trump is not a champion for our community because he is not a champion for those who make up our community. He is anti-queer because he is anti-woman, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-black and anti-Latinx.
He is anti-queer because our community is made up of the people Trump has attacked and denigrated. We are not a monolithic entity, walled off in our gay ghettos, detached from our other identities. We are rich and poor, young and old, disabled and enabled. We are black, brown and white; men, women and non-binary; indigenous, immigrants and descendants of immigrants. We are adherents to every religion and live in every country. We are as diverse as the fabric of America, a mosaic of identities that stretches across boundaries of ethnicity, gender, religion, class and nationality.
This diversity means that if we are to have the right to claim that we exist as a community, we need to consider the issues queer people face outside of their gender identity or sexual orientation queer issues. The assault on black lives is a queer issue. The desecration of Native land is a queer issue. The sexual assault epidemic is a queer issue. The gender pay gap is a queer issue. The wave of Islamophobia and xenophobia currently sweeping through America is a queer issue.
And regardless of Donald Trump’s stance on LGBTQ-specific issues (which, as mentioned, is horrific), his response to these other issues has been hateful, venomous and cruel.
He has regularly fueled racism to advance his political aims, falsely claiming that African Americans kill 81 percent of white murder victims, refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, and spinning false, racially-tinged conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s birthplace.
He has callously ridiculed and smeared anyone who has ever offended him, calling women fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals, mocking a disabled reporter, and insinuating that the father of a U.S. army captain killed in the Iraq War wouldn’t allow his heartbroken wife speak at the Democratic National Convention because the family is Muslim.
He has stirred up xenophobic prejudices against immigrants and anybody who doesn’t look American enough to him, calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, claiming that an Indiana-born federal judge hearing a lawsuit against him couldn’t do his job because “he’s a Mexican”, and labeling the US-born children of undocumented immigrants “anchor babies” who should be deported along with their parents.
He has bragged about sexually assaulting women. Because “when you’re a star, you can do anything.”
And the only time he speaks about queer issues on the campaign trail is to stress that only he can save us from the incoming horde of Muslims who apparently want to throw us off roofs, by killing terrorists’ families, banning Muslims from entering the United States, establishing a registry of Muslims already living in the United States, and ordering surveillance on all of the country’s mosques. Of course, he also wants to send all the Syrian refugees already in the United States – including the queer ones – back to Syria. You know, the place where ISIS is throwing gay people off roofs.
So when Trump says that he is much better for “the gays”, he isn’t talking about the queer Muslims he would ban from the country and force to register in a national database. He isn’t talking about the queer African Americans he would subject to stop and frisk policing and disenfranchise through restrictive voter ID laws. He isn’t talking about the innocent queer relatives of terrorists he would kill. He isn’t talking about the queer undocumented immigrants and queer children of undocumented immigrants he would deport within two years of becoming president. And he certainly isn’t talking about the queer Syrian refugees he would send back to Syria.
No matter how much Trump tries to use gay rights as a smokescreen through which to enflame anti-Islam sentiment, the vast majority of queer people in America are far more worried about a pervasive domestic culture that fosters everyday prejudice than they are a radical fringe movement that, while worrying, is wholly unrepresentative of Islam as a whole.
They worry, if they are black, that maybe they shouldn’t wear a hoodie and jeans tonight, because perhaps it will be the night they finally look a bit too threatening to the police. They worry, if they are Muslim, that they will have to switch their hijab for a hat tomorrow, because the media coverage has gotten pretty frenzied and it’s better safe than sorry. They worry that maybe they should wear shorts to the party instead of a skirt, because they don’t want to seem like they’re “asking for it”.
And while Trump harps on about the “hateful foreign ideology” that supposedly threatens our lifestyle, his bigoted rhetoric contributes to the hateful domestic ideologies that produce and perpetuate these fears.
Of course, the diversity of the queer community also means that we have a variety of political views. There are any number of reasons why people, including LGBTQ people, might be tempted to vote for Trump that have nothing to do with racism, misogyny, sexism and xenophobia.
But the undeniable fact is that regardless of his other views, Trump is racist, misogynistic, sexist and xenophobic. So if you’re queer and you vote for Trump, you are disavowing the idea of a queer community that stretches across the boundaries of ethnicity, religion and gender. You are saying that the marginalized voices within our community don’t matter, that the only queer rights you care about are those of people who look, act and talk like you. And that’s a shame. We’ve spent a long time building the shards of our community into a mosaic of identities. Lets not see it break apart at the seams now.