[There was a video here]
“Only weeks ago in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist target: LGBTQ community. No good, and we’re gonna stop it,” said Donald Trump during his presidential nomination acceptance speech last night. The abbreviation that was supposed to represent the United States’ queer population was reduced to alphabet soup dribbling off Trump’s lazy tongue; he stumbled between the “G” and the “B”. “LGBTQ” is a catch-all for queerness that attempts to be inclusive while reflecting diversity. In another context, this could be sneered at as “politically correct,” but coming from Trump’s mouth, it sounded flattened so impersonal as to border on the clinical. At the RNC, “LGBTQ” existed in the abstract—just as the threat of Islamic radicals to this country’s queer population that Trump says he’s gonna stop did.
“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of the hateful foreign ideology—believe me!” he continued.
Cheers and chants followed, and Trump congratulated his party: “I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you.” This phrase seemed to imply that openness to the rights of gay Americans was something on which the Republican party has laid special claim. Of course, the opposite is true. The GOP is the party of a hateful domestic ideology that his platform has openly spouted against those citizens for two decades now. Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence perpetuates a hateful domestic ideology, calling being gay a choice, and warning of societal collapse resulting from same-sex marriage. He has enacted legislation to allow “religious freedom” to be a license to discriminate. This is all to say nothing of Trump’s own hateful ideology that supports North Carolina’s anti-trans HB2, on which Trump and Pence seem ideologically aligned.
That the attendees of the RNC would entertain the idea of queer people without openly jeering, that they would deign to let an openly gay man such as Peter Thiel say he’s proud to be so on the stage before them (while politely glossing over it by stating that he’s also proud to be a Republican) counts as progress. That those things count as progress reveals how far behind this party is when it comes to equality. Instead of embarrassment, though, the reaction was one of pride.
For the gay who has it all and isn’t going to lose it any time soon—a white cisgender male billionaire like Peter Thiel, for example, who used his speech to disavow the “fake culture wars” that mostly don’t apply to him anyway—the Pulse nightclub shooting may have introduced something to worry about: A threat to identity and well-being, however distant and unlikely. Other members of the LGBTQ “community,” which is too diverse to be flattened by Trump’s monolithic rendering of it, have more pressing concerns. Stigma. Homelessness. Joblessness. HIV. Being able to walk around without being harassed or beaten up or murdered. Using a restroom. Many of these things disproportionately affect queer people of color, which are unlikely to be recognized or acknowledged by Trump or the GOP any time soon.
In 2010, Ann Coulter, who fancies herself a gay icon (“the Judy Garland of the Right”) said that “gays are the molecular opposite of blacks” and that gay marriage “is not a civil right — you’re not black.” Well, some gays are, actually. And some gays are Muslims. And some gays hurt other gays, whether by guns or gossip or crippling lawsuits. But what most queer people do have in common is being gifted, generally from a young age, with the ability to understand what it is to be different. What is clear to us, by virtue of our difference, is how wrong it is to discriminate and hate on basis of difference. That doesn’t stop racism and other bigotry from poisoning communities within our queer population, but it does make said bigotry shameful, outrageous, and illogical. We know better than that, we know better than to be seduced by sloppy lip service, and we know better than to unite over the hatred that Trump fosters.