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Anti-LGBTQ hate thrives in "post-Trump" America
Trump loyalists know that Trumpism can't survive without continuing to embrace religious extremists
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Let’s get this out of the way first: Not all Trump supporters are raving homophobes, nor are they all verbally promoting discrimination and violence against transgender people. A few of them are even gay or trans themselves, or, as they like to say, some of their best friends are.
But all supporters of Donald Trump — a disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term loser who continues to be the leader of the GOP — without question tolerate hate against LGBTQ people and other groups. They know there’s no future for Trumpism without the evangelical religious extremists and other anti-LGBTQ hatemongers — from QAnon cultists to white supremacists.
Donald Trump and every Trumpist Republican elected to the House or Senate in the past severals years ran for election by courting a base that includes those who openly revile LGBTQ people. They couldn’t win without every last one of them turning out (and Trump even lost in 2020 with just about every last one of them turning out, but did better than even he expected). And, under the current strategy, they can’t ever win again without every last one of the vocal haters turning out.
Any other Trump voter going along for the ride — maybe because they have a grievance against another group or issue, while they don’t really have a problem with LGBTQ people — have the Richard Grenells or Caitlyn Jenners of the world to help them rationalize that Trump and these Republicans aren’t really hurting queer people even as they galvanize our enemies.
While we rightly celebrate the sea change that Joe Biden brought, undoing Trump’s most vicious anti-LGBTQ executive orders, and seeing a Democratic-controlled Congress promoting the Equality Act, it’s dangerous not to acknowledge the gathering storm and get lulled into a false sense of security. Trump’s four years in office, and the elevation of extremists, has had a horrific effect on American culture, giving permission to homophobes and transphobes to vocally spew their hate.
Just look at what happened at an LGBTQ house at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, when ex-frat boys tried to break in to the building last week while yelling anti-LGBTQ slurs and urinating on the porch of Fran’s House. When public safety officials arrived, according to one witness, they excused the ex-frat boys and didn’t even talk to the victims. Tyler Leong, a residential advisor for Fran’s House, said, "When Public Safety arrived, they laughed at the situation…. and the officers bonded with our offenders, reminiscing their college days and calling them handsome young men.”
Safe spaces for LGBTQ students like Fran’s House have thrived on campuses in recent years after decades of fear and invisibility. Now those leading the backlash feel emboldened to engage in harassment and violence — and get the support of law enforcement.
The GOP, which has completely embraced Trump in Congress and in the states, has been pushing dozens of laws against transgender people, attacking trans kids in vile ways, and trying to make the dehumanization of trans people acceptable. The GOP is also promoting laws attempting to thwart bans on conversion therapy, and they’ve heralded Supreme Court justices Trump put on the court whom they hope will turn same-sex marriage into second class marriage, with religious exemptions for businesses, medical providers, educators and others opposed to same-sex marriage.
In the state of Montana, where the GOP is in Trump’s grip like everywhere else, the Republican attorney general has decided to challenge a federal judge’s ruling that a gay man who was sentenced to seven years in prison on a sodomy law almost 20 years ago — for having consensual gay sex at 18 — shouldn’t be on the state’s sex offender registry.
This, even as sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003. Three states still have “crimes against nature” laws on the books — and have gay men on sex offender registries — and some evangelical conservatives who are part of the Trump base would like to expand that group, re-criminalizing same-sex sexual acts more broadly.
The Trump-supporting insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th — and who Republicans have defended in hearings, while resisting a commission looking into that attack on our government — are dominated by anti-LGBTQ zealots. I wrote about an insurrection-inspired event in upstate New York that occurred in April, and whose co-organizer was arrested days after the event for his involvement in the attack on the Capitol. One of the speakers at the event, a local GOP elected official, discussed putting gays “on an island.”
The anti-LGBTQ base of Trump’s support will be further energized in the months to come. Whether Trump runs for office again or a Trump loyalist takes up the mantle as the presidential candidate in 2024, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies will be part of the platform and anti-LGBTQ hatred will be promoted in American culture — as is happening now, as we head to the 2022 mid-term elections for Congress. Without these extremists, the Trump base is nothing. Trump knows that and so does every politician who now embraces him.
And even those few in the GOP who are less loyal to Trump — even those Republican who’ve stood up to him, from Mitt Romney to Liz Cheney — got elected while speaking against and voting against marriage equality and transgender rights. In fact, they laid the groundwork for the Trumpist GOP, courting the haters, using dog whistles or hiding behind their supposed religious morality.
But they brought into the GOP the very immoral people who would destroy the party and usher in Trump, who has decided he’s not giving up his power any time soon. And if he continues to dominate, so does the agenda set on destroying LGBTQ rights.
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