I said on Facebook and I’ll say it here: my feed is likely to become a lot more political in the coming months and through the coming administration. If this is a thing that’s likely to bug you, you are welcome to stop reading my blog and social media accounts. If you like my writing but need to limit the amount of politics in your internet, believe me, I understand.
With that in mind, yep, this is going to be a political post. And it’s going to be a long one.
One of the things I’ve seen in the news this week is a general call for unity in the wake of the election results. Obama’s been saying that, and yeah, that’s fine; he’s the outgoing President and it’s kind of his job to urge the American people to come together.
Another thing I’ve seen is that people are not understanding why queers are freaking out about Trump. I have had multiple iterations now of a conversation that goes something like this:
Me: I’m stressed out and terrified about this election because I’m queer.
Other Person: But I thought Trump was pro-gay. I saw an article about how he was waving a rainbow flag at one of his rallies.
Me: I am way less concerned about Trump personally than I am about his cabinet. His VP is virulently anti-queer. His cabinet members are virulently anti-queer. His party is on record as being opposed to marriage equality, and his VP and other cabinet members are people who think that not only should I not have the right to be married to my wife, my wife and I are abominations against their God, and we should be legislated right back into the closet if not outright put to death. So yes, I am terrified.
What happens next in the conversational flow is one of these three options:
Other Person: …
Other Person: *weakly* Well, try not to worry, I’m sure it’ll be fine!
Other Person: I don’t believe you! Trump is the most pro-gay President the Republicans have ever elected! And also, the Orlando shooter was a Taliban-supporting Muslim!
Now, how does this tie into the call for unity?
Trump put out a pretty speech about how he intends to be a President for “all Americans”. But here’s the thing: some Americans are queer. And when he has been elected by a party who has as a solid tenet of its platform that queers should not be allowed to marry one another, he cannot claim to be pro-gay no matter how many rainbow flags he decides to wave around.
When he said during his campaign that he would not personally oppose rolling back marriage equality (as of back in January 2016), he cannot claim to be pro-gay.
When his supporters have already started lashing out against queers and other minorities, and he says absolutely nothing to stop it or condemn it, he cannot claim to be pro-gay.
When the people he is appointing to his transition team and cabinet are virulently anti-queer, believe queers are an abomination, and believe they have a religious mandate to code into law that discrimination against us is allowable on religious grounds, he cannot claim to be pro-gay.
When all he has to try to prove that he is pro-gay is “I will keep Muslims from getting into the country so they can’t shoot queer people”, that is not enough. I am not scared of Muslim immigrants shooting queers. I’m scared of Americans who are already here shooting queers. I’m scared of my fellow Americans legislating against us. Denying us medical treatment, or the right to be at the sides of our spouses if, gods forbid, we have to go to the hospital. Assaulting us. Killing us. And of there being an uptick in this kind of violence because the party that’s about to be in power condones it.
There is no having unity with this. There is no “agree to disagree” when one side is “I agree that queer people should have the right to marry one another and live their lives in peace” and the other side is “not only do I think gay marriage should be illegal, I think queers are an abomination and should be locked up and/or put to death, and I will be doing everything in my power to pass laws against you.”
This is why queers are terrified about the impending Trump administration.
I am not going to go so far as to claim Trump is not my President, because, well, I’m an American, and he was rightfully elected. Is he the next President of this country? Yes.
Is he going to be a President who actually cares about me and people like me?
That’s the thing, isn’t it?
And right now, I’m not seeing evidence that this is going to happen. I don’t care how many photos there are of him waving rainbow flags. I care about what he actually said during his campaign, and the contradiction between his blithe “ask the gays” remarks on Twitter and how he’s also on record as saying he won’t stand in the way of rolling back marriage equality. And how his transition team is full of people who think my wife and I are abominations.
If he really wants to make me believe that he’ll be a President for all Americans, I need to see him come right out and say, for the record, that he will oppose revoking marriage rights. And then I need to see him put his money where his mouth is. I need to see a distinct lack of executive orders against queers. I need to see him vetoing any attempt of a Republican Congress to roll back marriage equality–and I don’t believe for an instant that a Republican-controlled Congress is not going to try to do that, just so’s we’re clear on that, too.
I need to see Trump specifically and explicitly condemning the violence his supporters have started slinging against queers and other minorities. He needs to make it clear to the country, now that he is the one who’ll be taking office, that such acts are unacceptable in a civilized society–that they are unacceptable in America.
(And yes, I am aware that there have been acts of violence against Trump supporters in the news this past week, too. For the record, yes, I do in fact condemn that too. I will say that loud and clear right here, and I’ll say it again any time you like. As I am not in fact an idiot, I do not claim that all progressives are blameless paragons of virtue. Please do not try to come at me with any arguments of that nature.)
If you’re a Trump supporter and you’re not happy that progressives are expressing our terror about this, if you’re wondering why we’re not trying for that unity, this is why.
If you’re a Trump supporter and you actually personally care about the rights of queers, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, etc., then listen to us when we tell you we are terrified. Do not dismiss our fears as “drinking the DNC Kool-aid” when we’re coming at this from our own life experiences, and in many cases, all too much discrimination actively thrown directly into our faces. Do not tell us to “wake up” when we’ve been spending our entire lives fighting that discrimination.
Go read John Scalzi’s post on The Cinemax Theory of Racism. I co-sign every word of that post. Although he chose to focus on the racism aspects of the Trump campaign, everything he says in that post is equally applicable to sexism and homophobia. If you’re a Trump supporter, even if you are not personally racist, sexist, or homophobic, you signed up for this as part of the package when you voted for him. You need to own that.
And if you really care about that unity being called for, then get on board with helping make sure that your candidate, now that he’s got the White House, will not be wrecking the lives and the rights of the people who are not you. Listen to us and believe us when we express our fears to you.
Say to us, “We hear you, and because you are fellow citizens, we’ve got your backs, and here is what we’ll do to show you.”
Then and only then will I believe that unity can happen.
Editing to add: Jim Hines has an important post along these lines up over here, with some links off to incidents of harassment this past week, specifically ones for which there is supporting evidence (photos, videos).