One of many emotions that LGBTQ people are navigating and grappling with is a very distinct and cutting sense of betrayal. Despite repeated attempts by veteran activists, countless writers and influential organizations to warn about the radical dangers for the LGBTQ community under a Trump/Pence administration, 14 percent of our voting community reportedly aligned themselves with the Republican ticket.
And that is a sobering and agonizing reality.
The message sent by the results of the election and subsequent exit polls are not ambiguous: A significant portion of the LGBTQ community prioritized other issues and experiences over the threat that many of the most vulnerable members of our community could face under a Trump presidency.
As Queer Voices Editor-at-Large Michelangelo Signorile points out, “We are in for a full-blown assault on LGBTQ rights the likes of which many, particularly younger LGBTQ people, have not seen. Progress will most certainly be halted completely, likely rolled back. And it’s already underway.”
It’s a difficult and painful outcome to comprehend. What motivates a marginalized person to vote against the best interests of their community members? What set of internalized values allows an LGBTQ person to vote for candidates that are championing the most anti-LGBTQ platform in the Republican party’s history? A platform that not only embraces conversion therapy, but is largely being guided by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a dangerous anti-LGBTQ extremist that all queer people should rightfully fear?
The reality of the LGBTQ community ― like all communities ― is this: we are a very diverse, expansive group of individuals whose lives and experiences contain multitudes. But a specific portion of our community embodies a significant number of markers of power and privilege ― things like whiteness, maleness, cisness, having able bodies and class-based privilege.
And, predictably, Donald Trump’s top LGBTQ supporters seem to largely be made up of white gay men who appear to have either sanitized their politics, severely disliked Hillary Clinton, or found other reasons to rationalize a vote for the Republican party’s candidate.
And so, they voted Trump.
But why have these individuals seemingly abandoned the fight for queer liberation that involves an intersectional approach to equality for all minorities? Could their recent successes ― the legalization of same-sex marriage and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ― really be all they care about? Could self-interest really trump the need to protect and look out for our community’s most vulnerable?
These are questions that the rest of us in the LGBTQ community ― and other communities who are vulnerable, as well ― are now trying to understand.
At times like this, it’s important for us ― and these voters ― to zoom out and recognize that queer liberation is a battle that is still very much ongoing for the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community and all of us. Trans people, people of color, women, homeless queer youth, intersex people, people outside of the gender binary will all suffer tremendously under a Trump/Pence leadership structure.
Even those in the LGBTQ community who apparently feel safe may be in for a shock once the new administration begins unrolling plans and polices for the future trajectory of our country.
And this should be both mortifying and disconcerting for everyone. 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. The majority of states don’t have anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Trans people literally can’t even use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity in many states ― and are terrified for what’s to come. Hate crimes against LGBTQ people ― and ALL minority groups ― are on the rise post-election. And the list goes on.
So, LGBTQ people that voted for Trump and Pence ― this is the outcome that you wanted, that you voted for. But this choice will likely have long-standing, possibly life-threatening, repercussions on the most vulnerable members of our community, and that is something that you need to both examine your role in and shoulder the responsibility for.
Because, in the end ― as it has always been with our community ― we are all in this together.