After years of progressive strides, 2016 turned out to be an unfortunate stumbling block in the LGBTQ community’s quest for equality.
Unquestionably the year’s most devastating blow took place on June 12, when 49 people, most of whom identified as queer, were killed in the devastating Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. As sickening as that grisly act of homophobia was, hopes that such an unparalleled tragedy would encourage national solidarity with the LGBTQ community were soon dashed when Donald Trump, who ran on an explicitly anti-queer platform, won the U.S. presidency in November.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s actions were, of course, an unprecedented level of extremism that lie beyond critical scope. But there were a number of public figures whose actions and words during 2016 fed into the culture that allowed an act of hate like the massacre to occur.
From former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who aggressively backed his state’s anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who suggested he’d rather be crucified than ditch his opposition to LGBTQ rights, 2016 made in very clear that there are still people in positions of authority who want to dismantle the progress the LGBTQ community has made over the past decade.
As keen as we are to be forward-thinking after the challenges of the last year, we also must reckon with the forces ― and individuals ― who still oppose our basic rights. In the spirit of resistance in 2017, here’s an honest look back at 13 people who actively worked against the rights and humanity of LGBTQ people in 2016.
We can (hopefully) only go up from here, folks.
Vice-President Elect Mike Pence
Andrew Kelly / Reuters
Raleigh News & Observer via Getty Images
JOHN GURZINSKI via Getty Images
The boxing champion-turned-lawmaker sent shockwaves
through his native Philippines in February after claiming that gay people are “worse than animals
“Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better,” Pacquiao, who is a conservative Christian
, said in an interview. “If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.”
Pacquiao later apologized
for the remarks in a series of Instagram posts, but has remained steadfast
in his opposition to marriage equality. Read more here
Lucas Jackson / Reuters
There's no telling what the president-elect REALLY thinks about the LGBTQ community, which arguably makes him the most terrifying political figure on the list.
At different points throughout his campaign, Trump says he opposes same-sex marriage
and would “strongly consider”
appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn the landmark decision legalizing it. After winning the election, however, he suggested he was "fine with
" same-sex marriage.
He's also flip-flopped
on the issue of whether or not transgender people should be allowed
to use the public restrooms which best align with their gender identity.
Actions, of course, speak louder than words, and by selecting Mike Pence
as his running mate and tapping some of the nation's most anti-LGBTQ politicians
for his cabinet, its clear Trump does not have
the queer community's best interests at heart. Read more here
Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
The conservative "Clueless" star turned out to be, well, just plain clueless this year. While promoting her new book, There Goes My Social Life: From Clueless to Conservative,
in June, Dash took aim at Caitlyn Jenner
for wanting to use the women’s restroom.
“It’s tyranny by the minority,” Dash said referring to the political battle over trans rights
. “Why do I have to suffer because you can’t decide what you wanna be that day? It’s your body! So, it’s your decision, right? We all make choices.”
When it was pointed out that transgender people wouldn’t classify their gender identity as a “choice,” Dash wasn’t having it. “OK, then go [to the bathroom] in the bushes,” she fired back. “I don’t know what to tell you, but I’m not gonna put my child’s life at risk because you want to change a law. So that you can be comfortable with your beliefs — which means I have to change my beliefs and my rights? No.”Read more here
Mike Blake / Reuters
The Mississippi governor faced a backlash in April when he signed his state’s radical anti-LGBT bill
House Bill 1523 allows people with religious objections to deny wedding services
to same-sex couples, and clears the way for employers to cite religion in determining workplace policies.
The Republican lawmaker slammed
the pushback he received from the “secular, progressive world” after he signed the bill, and compared much of the criticism he’d received over House Bill 1523 to the various ways that “Christians have been persecuted throughout the ages.”
“They don’t know that if it takes crucifixion, we will stand in line before abandoning our faith and our belief in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he said. “So if we are going to stand, now is the time and this is the place.” Read more here
Tom Williams via Getty Images
The Louisiana attorney general may have an openly gay brother
, but that doesn’t mean he’s on board with protecting members of the LGBTQ community in the workplace.
In December, the Republican applauded a state judge’s decision to toss out an executive order
issued by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards
, which had aimed to prevent discrimination
based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state jobs.
When Landry was asked about his brother, Nicholas
, who is openly gay, he said the siblings had discussed their respective stances on LGBTQ equality.
“Look, I love my brother. That’s unquestionable... [But] we have to respect the law," he said. "We have to respect the Constitution.” Read more here
Michael Tullberg via Getty Images
The former child star who played Cindy Brady on “The Brady Bunch” made headlines in December when she unleashed a homophobic, slur-filled rant
against one of her critics.
After actor Leon Acord accused her of spreading "misinformation" on a radio show she co-hosted, Olsen allegedly blasted him
as a “pussy” and the “biggest faggot a** in the world” in a Dec. 7 Facebook message. Days later, it was announced that LA Talk Radio had severed its ties with Olsen because of “hateful speech." Olsen would later argue that the controversy stemmed from her outspoken support
of President-elect Donald Trump. Read more here
The pastor of Arizona’s Faithful Word Baptist Church has been known to make misogynous and vehemently anti-LGBTQ proclamations in filmed sermons, and 2016 was no exception.
In May, Anderson, who “holds no college degree but has well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word
," offered up one of his most bizarre sermons yet. In it, he argued that business owners who have turned away same-sex couples
because marriage equality violates their religious beliefs were actually being too nice
Claiming that such businesses are “tools of the media to brainwash you,” Anderson asked, “Who thinks it’s a hard decision if some faggot wants you to make them a wedding cake? Anyone struggling with that right now?”Read more here
Jim Urquhart / Reuters
The president of National Organization for Marriage (NOM) vowed to ramp up his fight against the LGBTQ community this year. In early December, Brown announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family
, or IOF, which aims to “take the global fight to preserve and protect marriage to a whole new level.”
Calling IOF a “great development for the international pro-family movement,” he said the group “is assembling a coalition of allies to take the worldwide lead in fighting for marriage, religious liberty, parental rights, the truth of gender and other issues.” Read more here
ATLAH World Missionary Church
PYMCA via Getty Images
The church, based in New York's Harlem neighborhood, has a long-standing reputation
for being outspoken in its opposition to the LGBTQ community.
This year, however, it looked like the ATLAH World Missionary Church might be
finally getting its comeuppance when the Ali Forney Center
, a homeless LGBTQ youth advocacy group, launched an online fundraiser
hoping to repurpose the church as housing for its clients. The building was reportedly due to be sold
at a foreclosure auction.
Sadly, though, the foreclosure attempt has since been thwarted
, at least for now. That meant Pastor James David Manning went right back
to his homophobic sermons as if nothing had happened. Read more here
JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN / Reuters