Dispatches from the Queer Resistance (No. 4)

[Content Note: Transphobia, homophobia, torture, Christian supremacy.]

Here's a periodic reminder that 77% of LGBT voters chose Hillary Clinton over any other contender in the 2016 general election.

Many reasons exist for this disproportionate level of support for Clinton. I suspect that a big one was the accurate prediction that, as signaled by his selection of Mike Pence as his VP candidate, Donald Trump would become a hypocritical Christian Cultural Warrior for the far-right.

During the lead-up to the 2016 election, it was hip for some folks to claim that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or more generally Democrats and Republicans, were just as bad as one another. As someone who came of age as a lesbian during George W. Bush's presidency, in which he leveraged the hatred of LGBTs for political gain, I knew these comparisons were irresponsible.

Let that false equivalence marinate when you read this post.

1)  Trump "Jokes" That Pence Wants to Hang Gay People

A New Yorker article recently alleged that Trump likes to mock Pence's religiosity and has "joked" that, when it comes to gay people, Pence wants to "hang them all."

When the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper, asked Pence's spokesperson if the "joke" was true, Pence's spokesperson didn't specifically deny it.


What I'll observe here is that maybe even just a few years ago, during the Obama presidency, this sort of joke might have been career-ending, even for a Republican. The press might also have widely demanded an answer as to whether the vice president really did want to execute gay people. Today, it barely makes a ripple in the news cycle.

So, what, then? We're supposed to just add the possibility of hanging to the ever-growing list of ways this Republican Administration might kill us?

More broadly, I'll note that Donald Trump doesn't make "harmless jokes."  He knows that his words are under constant, intense scrutiny even when he's off-camera. He whines about this constantly. This "joke" is a prime example of the straight-up abusive way he uses his platform to instill, at the very least, a persistent state of low-grade fear in marginalized populations.

2) More Torture Allegations in Chechnya

Via The Guardian:
"A Russian man who alleges that he was kidnapped and tortured in Chechnya's 'gay purge' has appealed to the government in Moscow to properly investigate the actions of Chechen authorities.

Maxim Lapunov is the first person to go public with torture allegations without hiding his identity. At a press conference in Moscow on Monday, he said he was held in a basement for 12 days in March and beaten by Chechen security forces, who demanded to know whether he was gay and for him to give the names of his sexual partners."
Reports have also emerged that pop singer Zelimkhan Bakaev has been detained and murdered in this purge.

As I noted previously, the Putin-backed Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied allegations of a gay purge by claiming there are no gay people in Chechnya and saying that even if there were, they should be removed to "cleanse our blood." Ah yes, the old we're totally not purging gays, because gays don't exist; but if gays did exist, we would totally purge them defense. Somehow that's not very convincing.

Donald Trump has still not addressed these reports.

3) Trump Speaks at the Values Voter Summit

Earlier this month, Donald made an address at the conservative Christian Values Voter Summit (VVS), something no sitting president had ever done before. Per its website, the VVS "was created in 2006 to provide a forum to help inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life, and limited government that make our nation strong."

The event's primary sponsor since its inception has been FRC Action, the legislative arm of Family Research Council (FRC). The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FRC as an anti-LGBT hate group for its long history of denigrating LGBT people (full profile here). From 2013-2015, Josh Duggar was the Executive Director of FRC Action, before resigning after he was revealed to be a sexual predator, and later admitting to adultery.

At the VVS gathering of Americans who have bedrock values, Donald Trump, who has admitted on tape to grabbing women's genitals without consent, referenced the familiar culture war talking points that he stokes among his base. These topics include kneeling NFL players, saying "Merry Christmas," vowing to take on "radical Islamic terrorists," and protecting "the unborn."

It's unclear to me whether hanging gay people fits into this Christian-supremacist agenda.

4) Republican State Rep. Suggests HIV/AIDS Quarantine

Georgia State Rep. Betty Price (R), the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, recently asked in a Committee meeting if people living with HIV/AIDS could be legally quarantined.

For context, this question is a throwback to the early days of the crisis circa 1987, when homophobic Republican Jesse Helms called for the quarantine of those living with AIDS, suggested that prisoners with AIDS should be kept imprisoned indefinitely, publicly referred to men who have sex with men as "perverts," and opposed prevention efforts that were affirming of gay and bisexual men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, per the most recent year for which data is available (2014). According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, approximately 55,000 people are living with HIV in Georgia, about two-thirds of whom are Black.

Price didn't seem to delve into the specifics of where/how these individuals might be interned. But, after receiving criticism, Rep. Price issued a statement that read in part:
"I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context. I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients. I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena — a fire that will result in resolve and commitment to ensure that all of our fellow citizens with HIV will receive, and adhere to, a treatment regimen that will enhance their quality of life and protect the health of the public."
Here's a phenomenon we're going to keep seeing, thanks in part to Trump's war on "political correctness." People in positions of power are going to feel more and more emboldened to "just put ideas out there" to be "provocative." These ideas might sound reasonable to a general populace ignorant of pertinent historical and political context, such as HIV/AIDS. So then, it becomes a "reasonable debate we need to have" because free speech/political correctness or what-have-you. These ideas, if enacted, would actually be quite horrific to the marginalized people impacted.

5) Conservative Evangelicals Sign "Nashville Statement"

In 2009, conservative Christians put forth a document called the Manhattan Declaration, urging Christians to sign on to this statement affirming that, among other things, same-sex marriage and abortion are both immoral and more properly within the jurisdiction of "God" rather than the state. In 2010, some Christian leaders then tried to get lawmakers to sign on to this statement.

Those efforts, for a variety of reasons, mostly fizzled out.

Flash forward to August 2017: Conservative Evangelical leaders have signed the so-called Nashville Statement laying out their beliefs on homosexuality and gender. It's everything you'd expect, but here's a sample: "We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God's holy purposes in creation and redemption."

In 2010, the pro-LGBT Barack Obama was president, which likely played a role in the Manhattan Declaration not going anywhere. In the 2016 election, 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. More to the point, he has to use his position of power to keep delivering them culture war wins in order to retain their support.

As I wrote previously, "Donald Trump may not be a legitimate Christian, but under the guidance of Pence, Donald and Evangelical Christians seem to have made a bargain to use each other for their own mutually-beneficial ends." Stay tuned. I don't think this is the last we'll be seeing of this Statement.

To end on a more positive note, here is some better news:

6) California Recognizes Nonbinary Gender Designation on Official Documents

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed a law earlier this month allowing Californians to designate a nonbinary gender option on their birth certificates and driver's licenses.


7) Small Town Hosts First LGBTQ Pride

Orange City, Iowa (population 6,200) hosted its first pride this past weekend. Congratulations!

8) This Is Not a Drill

Carol is currently on Netflix right now, in case you were wondering and want to watch it on repeat until this hellscape nightmare ends!

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