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#GaysForTrump: Racism in the Gay Community

February 19, 2017

It is no secret that the majority of white voters showed up for Donald Trump on Nov. 8; according to Pew Research Center, white voters preferred Trump by a 21 percentage point margin over Hillary Clinton. Men also tended to lean towards Trump’s camp, preferring him by a 12 percentage point margin over Clinton. Nonetheless, what may be most surprising is that a portion of LGBTQ+ voters actually favored him, which seems to defy all logic. How could a ticket including Mike Pence and a man who promised to fill the empty Supreme Court seat with someone who would emulate the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s originalism succeed in any LGBTQ+ circles? It seems that the first two voting trends mentioned in this article supercede trends based on queerness (which show that LGBTQ+ voters overwhelmingly supported Clinton over Trump); when you look at Trump’s top LGBTQ+ supporters, the image is very white and male.

It is not difficult to see. Just check Twitter. If you look up #GaysForTrump you’ll find white gay men pouring their hearts out for our new President. The Twitter account @gaysfortrump has a picture of the moderators of the account, two white gay men, embracing each other in their profile picture. Now check their tweets. The @gaysfortrump account’s first non-pinned Tweet says “Everything I needed to learn about Islam I learned on 9/11,” and features the hashtags #Trump2016, #FeelTheBern and #Hillary2016 (in an effort to spread their wisdom across all the American political spheres on the internet of course) along with a picture of the moment the second plane hitting the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The account also features a tweet calling Senator Bernie Sanders a racist with a picture of white people chained and shackled together wearing “I’m Sorry” shirts and being driven by a black man, emulating the infamous photos of African-American slave transportation in pre-Civil War America.

Are you starting to get an idea of the problem? These white gay men support Trump because of their own racist beliefs. From what I’ve shown you, this seems to be a social media-isolated phenomenon. But let us take a look at some of Trump’s top LGBTQ+ supporters.

Milo Yiannopoulos is a gay writer for the ultra-conservative (and what many would call “alt-right”) news platform Breitbart and he supports Donald Trump. What many remember Yiannopoulos for is having his account deleted from Twitter after the platform found him responsible for the barrage of racist and misogynistic comments hurled at “Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters” (2016) actress Leslie Jones, which led to her deleting her own account for a period of time to escape the harassment. His backing amongst Trump supporters has grown since the election as many rose to defend him against protestors at University of California Berkeley, where he was scheduled to speak but had his talk cancelled after protests turned violent.

Chris Barron, a Trump supporter and founder of the LGBTQ+ conservative group GOProud, reflects what many LGBTQ+ Trump supporters seem to like the most about the president: his stance on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, which we all know has not been very friendly. He stresses the threat of ISIS and Islamic governments persecuting gay Muslims by throwing them off buildings and giving the death penalty to those who engage in homosexual conduct (both of which do happen today). Barron’s support of Trump comes from Trump’s policy of limiting immigration from Muslim-majority countries, which he believes will keep the American LGBTQ+ community safe. Yet this hope seems somewhat countered by the fact that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the most prominent countries where homosexual conduct is a basis for the death penalty, were excluded from Trump’s recent immigration ban.

It is not illogical for the LGBTQ+ community to fear ISIS or oppressive religious governments that would persecute them. We have already seen evidence of ISIS’s anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs in the gruesome attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando last June. But to assume all Muslims share the same views as ISIS and oppressive Islamic governments generalizes them to a dangerous extent. We can’t assume all Muslims are dangerous to the LGBTQ+ community and use this assumption as a basis to deny entry to the U.S. to foreign Muslims, many of which need a refuge from the political chaos of crises like the Syrian Civil War. If all 1.6 billion Muslims were as dangerous as Trump supporters claimed, the LGBTQ+ community would cease to exist. But ISIS represents a miniscule portion of self-proclaimed Muslims, while many Muslims condemn their actions because they go against mainstream Islam.

The islamophobia these gay Trump supporters hold runs so deep that they find themselves defending Trump’s stance on LGBTQ+ policies. While Trump has stated he will fight to protect LGBTQ+ rights, many of his decisions during his campaign and as president say otherwise.

Meanwhile Vice President Mike Pence is arguably one of the most homophobic politicians in modern American politics. As governor of Indiana, Pence defunded the state’s needle exchange program, which provides clean needles to drug addicts to prevent the spread of HIV.  The program worked to bring HIV infection rates down without an increase in the number of drug users in the state, showing the same results as other needle exchange programs across the country. The end of the program brought about a large spike in the number of new HIV infections that caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate the program in certain Indiana counties. HIV/AIDS has plagued the LGBTQ+ community, specifically gay men, since the 1970s. Despite this, Pence dismissed the program that would have helped to fix one of the largest health issues the LGBTQ+ community faces today.

Pence also signed Indiana’s infamous Religious Liberty Bill into law and sparked the passage of similar bills in other states. The bill allowed businesses to deny services to people based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity if they contradicted the business owners’ religious beliefs, essentially allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers. In his past, Pence was a staunch supporter of conversion therapy, psychological “treatment” for LGBTQ+ children to “help” them become straight and/or cisgender. Conversion therapy has been known for its dangerous and fatal effects on youth that enter these programs, which increase rates of suicide among LGBTQ+ teens. While Pence did not comment on this past support during his vice presidential campaign and has not mentioned it since before then, he has not publicly apologized for his support of this deadly practice. The domestic policy chair of Trump’s transition team, former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell, also issued similar beliefs, stating that he believed homosexuality was like arson and kleptomania in that it can be “contained, repressed or changed.”

Putting Pence on the ticket was not Trump’s only anti-LGBTQ+ decision. His promise to fill the empty Supreme Court seat with someone reminiscent of Antonin Scalia worried many LGBTQ+ Americans. Scalia in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the decision that legalized same-sex marriage in June 2015, opposed the decision based on his originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Scalia’s originalism is the belief that the Constitution should be interpreted the way it was when it was written, the year 1787. He used this view of Constitutional interpretation to argue against the idea of legal same-sex marriage by claiming that the Founding Fathers did not mean to include same-sex marriage when they wrote in the right to marriage, which is probably true. But times have changed. Are we really going to let 230 year-old beliefs dictate civil rights issues in the modern era? Apparently, we might.

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has proclaimed his admiration for Scalia multiple times in the past and also subscribes to his originalist views. With issues regarding religious liberty claims conflicting with anti-discrimination laws still present in the judiciary system, like the one that arose in the Washington State Supreme Court last week dealing with a florist who wouldn’t sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ” (the court ruled 9-0 in favor of the couple but the florist is planning on appealing the decision and taking it to the Supreme Court), it is important that we have people in our highest judicial office who will protect civil rights for all Americans.

Despite these actions and the inclusion of other politicians in his administration who have supported anti-LGBTQ+ policies like Jeff Sessions, Ben Carson, Tom Price and Betsy DeVos, a portion of the gay community still supports Donald Trump and the way they do it is truly pathetic. Many gay Trump supporters will cite a picture of Donald Trump holding a pride flag at one of his rallies with the words “LGBTs FOR TRUMP” written across one of the bars in sloppy, grammatically incorrect, kindergarten-like Sharpie letters. They also reference how Trump’s immigration ban stated that it aimed to protect Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Nonetheless, one could argue that he simply included this to make himself look more moderate. He has used the issue of LGBT discrimination to push his islamophobic policies in the past. After the Pulse nightclub shooting, then Republican presidential candidate Trump took to Twitter to accept “congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism” before he offered condolences to the families of the victims, the city of Orlando and the LGBTQ+ community.

Supporters like to talk about how Trump has included gay people in his administration. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, a gay Trump supporter who has pushed for cooperation with Trump in Silicon Valley, was a part of Trump’s transition team. But, this is simply a reiteration of the “I have a (blank) friend, so I can’t be (blank)” excuse. Think of it this way. If someone has a gay friend but continues to use words like “f*ggot” and gay itself in a malicious manner and doesn’t support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples are they still a homophobe? The answer is yes.

They may like their gay friend, but overall their actions demonstrate a lack of respect for gay rights. Many people use this excuse to get out of being called a bigot. But there is a clear difference between employing a gay person and an anti- gay person. Homophobia is actually harmful, especially in positions of power like the Vice Presidency of the United States, so hiring someone despite their harmful views puts the employer’s morals into question. Homosexuality is not harmful, so you are not hiring someone despite anything harmful. Also, the inclusion of gay administration employees could be another tactic Trump uses to paint himself as a moderate conservative.

Racism in the gay community is not a new phenomenon. Activists have attempted to combat the issues of disproportionate representation of white gay people in media and preference listing and filtering on gay dating apps for years now. Many white gay men fail to realize the privilege they still have because of their race and gender. They spew the false ideology that, because they are a minority, they cannot hold prejudices against other minorities. It may very well be hypocritical, but it still happens. It is time now for white gay men to let go of their “no fats, no femmes, no Asians” policies, their islamophobia and inability to recognize their own privilege or else they will let hidden homophobia destroy them by their own action.

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