One Year Later, The Trump Nightmare Is As Horrific As Many Of Us Imagined

LGBTQ rights have been dealt a stunning blow. Yet, a year since Election Day 2016 we're stronger and ready for the fight.

A year ago tomorrow we woke up in an insane and terrifying world.

As I arose from my bed that morning, for a few moments I thought that the night before, the election returns and the horrifying reality, was a terrible nightmare.

But no. We’ve been living the nightmare for a year already. And none of us knows where it’s going, nor for how long.

And yet, we are unleashed, finding our way, hitting back and ducking for cover in a new political battlefield. And we’re banging on doors and waking people up. The Resistance has made all of us stronger. And yesterday, Election Day 2017, gave us enormous hope and has now energized us further.

The Resistance itself is standing on the shoulders of so many different groups that had built strength over the previous years. One of them is the LGBTQ rights movement. Had queer people not marched forward in recent years and demanded our rights, changing not just the political reality but the cultural landscape as well, we’d not have been able to withstand this current assault.

And make no mistake: it’s been a full-on assault. I know it’s annoying to play the
“we told you so” card. But truly, there were so many of us warning the community, the media, and the world that Donald Trump would work toward eviscerating LGBTQ rights.

No, they told us ― from The New York Times and across the establishment media ― he’s “more accepting on gay issues” than other Republicans and is “not your enemy”. “We-told-you-so” is important because we have to keep reminding them of how wrong they were because we can never let this happen again. All the signs were there and yet political reporters chose to ignore them, as did some LGBTQ people and even Trump supporters who told themselves “he’ll never do that” about everything from the Muslim ban and mass deportations to promoting full-blown discrimination against LGBTQ people and attempting to take away marriage equality via the Supreme Court.

The fact that many of us saw through it wasn’t because any of us were clairvoyant. It was all obvious and plain as day. Trump was courting our enemies, from Jerry Falwell Jr. to Pat Robertson, making promises to them on their media outlets. And Trump made the anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence his running mate. In retrospect, how is anything that has happened, from the ban on transgender people serving in the military to Jeff Sessions’ attempts to allow job discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual workers, a surprise to anyone? 

This, as I’ve written, is the most anti-LGBTQ presidency in history. There’s no question that we’ve been set back, rights have been taken away and people have been harmed. At the same time, we’re well-positioned to organize and fight back, joining with so many others, from African-Americans and immigrants to women and Muslims, to take on Trump’s agenda.

Election Night 2017 showed that, as Democrats sailed to victory in governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia against candidates pushing hate and courting racists ― what Steven Bannon called “Trumpism without Trump” ― and as the first transgender woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, Danica Roem, beat a transphobe and bigot who’d been in office for 24 years.

Roem’s victory was yet another rebuke to Trump, a man who’s done more harm to transgender people, trying to stunt their march forward, than any national politician. Roem’s victory in a Southern state showed where most Americans really stand. And it showed how far LGBTQ people have come, further fortifying a long-resilient movement over the past decade that would be an essential part of the Resistance. 

Election Day 2016 was one of the darkest days many of us have collectively experienced in our lives. But Election Day 2017 showed us how strong we’ve become in this past year, and how, together, we can and will beat back bigotry.

Follow Michelangelo Signorile on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msignorile