Dispatches From the Queer Resistance

[content note: transphobia, homophobia, gender policing, sexual assault]

Exit polls showed that LGBT voters overwhelmingly cast ballots for Hillary Clinton (77%) compared to Donald Trump (14%) in Election 2016. With LGBT identities cutting across all racial, gender, ethnic, and religious/non-religious identities and socioeconomic classes, the reasons for this support are likely many. So, here I'll speak to my experience.

The first election in which I voted was in 2000, placing me within a generation of lesbians who came of age as adults during the Bush II years. I remember these years feeling like an ongoing barrage of anti-LGBT sentiment, not just from politicians but from the religious right, as well. Organizations like National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Family Research Council ran campaign after campaign seeking to restrict LGBT rights and promote special privileges for anti-LGBT religious organizations.

George W. Bush generally opposed LGBT equality as President, opposing LGBT adoption, supporting Don't Ask Don't Tell, opposing marriage equality, and opposing hate crimes legislation that covered sexual orientation. In 2004, Bush succumbed to pressure from Evangelical Christians and supported an amendment to the US Constitution banning same-sex marriage, a move that set him apart from his Democratic opponent John Kerry. Of note, Kerry also opposed same-sex marriage, as did many prominent Democrats then, but I saw a general consensus among my LGBT friends that Democrats had more potential to evolve on the issue compared to Republicans. Questions about support for trans people's rights do not seem to have been regularly asked of candidates in "On the Issues" surveys back then, but I do not remember Bush as a public advocate for trans rights either.

Then, in 2009, early in President Obama's first term, the National Organization for Marriage released a propaganda video, "A Gathering Storm," which true to the group's gay-baiting style painted same-sex marriage as a quasi-terroristic threat to the nation. Instead of being effective, the video inspired a strong backlash against bigotry, as dozens of high-profile parodies and responses were created. In retrospect, the video seemed to foreshadow NOM's Obama Era decline. (It's really hard to even find the original video, but here is one version, in which someone inserted a laugh track, because of course they did).

During President Obama's two terms, as just some examples, he signed legislation repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, signed federal hate crimes legislation, supported marriage equality, called for an end to "conversion therapy" for gay and trans youth, and signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation (and more). At the same time, progress has lagged for trans people. For instance, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell did not end the ban on allowing trans individuals to serve openly in the military. And, anti-trans groups continue to propose "bathroom bills," demonizing trans people as predators and policing gender.

Now, with Mike Pence serving on Trump's team, Evangelical Christians rallying around Trump, and the threat of an upcoming Executive Order that would grant religious organizations the special privilege to discriminate, many in the LGBT community fear a rollback of progress made during President Obama's tenure.

It is no surprise to me then, that since November 8, 2016, my social media timelines have been full of LGBT people resisting Trump in various ways. Today, I'd like to highlight just a few recent instances that I'm aware of (which I'd like to make semi-regular updates to, as well):

1. Stonewall Protests Over the Weekend

On Saturday, thousands of LGBT people (and, presumably, allies) gathered at Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village to protest. The intent was, per The Guardian, "to stand with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers outraged by the president’s executive order banning refugees and travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the US."  I love the intersectional message here: you come for any of us, you come for all of us.

Stonewall Inn, of course, is a historic site of LGBT resistance in the US, even though advocacy work had begun before the riots of 1969. Many accounts credit a black drag queen, Marsha Johnson, and a Puerto Rican transgender woman, Sylvia Rivera, for sparking the crowd to fight back against the ongoing police raids at the bar, which many now see as the symbolic beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. Other sources include further claims that the first punch was thrown by a butch lesbian who was being arrested. (ps - I skipped the recent Stonewall movie).

2. Comedians Raise Money for Trans Organization

As a reminder that mainstream Republicans are hardly innocent in paving the way for Trump, here is former presidential contender, and Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee tweeting over the weekend:

Here, Huckabee ridicules Senator Schumer for having gotten emotional while speaking out against Trump's Muslim Ban (Trump ridiculed Schumer as well). As a broad note, Mike Huckabee might be one of the political establishment's least funny guys. The Christian Reverend's Twitter "jokes" consistently rely on appealing to cruelty and  a complete lack of empathy for other people. In this tweet in particular, Huckabee is policing gender (real men don't cry!) while also referencing as the "punchline" of his joke a movie that's based on Brandon Teena, a trans man who was raped and murdered by men who policed his gender.

Truly deplorable.

In response, actually-funny comedians (and real-life married couple) Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher started a campaign to raise money for the nonprofit Trans Lifeline, in Brandon Teena's memory. So far, they've raised $13,000.

I propose adding Mike Huckabee's opinions to the ongoing tally of things to never normalize. (ps - Take My Wife, starring Butcher and Esposito, is funny and good if you're looking to support queer women's art).

3. Kristen Stewart on Saturday Night Live (SNL)

On a lighter note, I enjoyed Kristen Stewert's opening SNL monologue. She accomplished three important items:
  • Stewart referred to herself as "so gay" during the monologue. I hear *some* queer women have feelings about that (n=1?). In all seriousness, by appearing on SNL, she's now in all likelihood on Trump's (and his fans') radar for further cyber-bullying. I hope she is able to navigate that safely.
  • She also accidentally said "fuck" on live TV, which made Kate McKinnon have this reaction:
As a general note about resisting Trump, I've seen a fair amount of tsk-tsking about "appropriate" resistance behavior and cursing, in particular. I'll just point out that from a posterity standpoint, "I didn't oppose fascists because the people resisting said 'fuck' sometimes" is probably not going to age well.

When I made foray into blogging 10 years ago, one of the first slurs aimed at me was from a homophobic Christian who called me a "potty-mouthed dyke." To paraphrase, Solange: yeah, well, we've got a lot to say "fuck" about.

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