In a recent op-ed for TheHill.com, Joseph R. Murray (a gay conservative who was a former campaign official for Pat Buchanan) came out in support of the Trump administration (no surprise) and chastised the LGBT community for going “off the rails” over Trump’s election.
“There are no signs that the LGBT community will be in the crosshairs of a Trump administration,” Murray writes. “Here was the president-elect, a man who has long been compared to Hitler by progressives, saying he was fine with marriage equality. What did the LGBT community have to fear if their right to marriage was safe?”
Murray’s op-ed mirrors a lot of post-election posturing from the LGBT community. After watching him shrug off any intention of overturning marriage equality in a 60 Minutes interview (contrary to his campaign trail promises), many LGBT voices – in particular those of white gay men and women – took to rhetoric that downplays the danger of a Trump administration, particularly because marriage equality is (allegedly) out of harm’s way.
“We should wait and see what he does.”
“We survived Reagan, we can survive this.”
“We have to come together right now.”
“We have to spread love, not hate.”
It’s the same rhetoric that allows openly gay billionaire Peter Thiel to accept a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention and ultimately a role in the Trump administration’s transition team. It’s the rhetoric that allows The Log Cabin Republicans to endorse Trump and, following his election, brazenly solicit LGBT dollars to help them “have a relationship with our nation’s incoming chief executive” and “ensure the advances in LGBT freedom we have made thus far remain secure and continue in a Trump administration.” It’s the rhetoric that allows members of our community to champion a laissez faire attitude, as the Trump administration daily unfurls an increasingly disturbing vision for governing America.
The story of the gay rights movement has predominately been the story of white gay men and women, and the chief concerns of the movement have been dictated by the concerns of that community. The movement has been mostly assimilationist, pouring its efforts into teaching America that we are all “just like everyone else” and championing issues, like marriage equality, that disproportionately serve its white, middle-class members. The equality earned by the movement has been lopsided at best, exclusionary at worst.
Yes, the movement has allowed many of us to live openly. Yes, the movement has made LGBT lives visible. Yes, the movement has forced our politicians and leaders to discuss our lives and concerns. But somewhere along the way, we traded away real inclusiveness for partial progress, and we left behind the concerns of many in our community.
We left behind queer people of color. We left behind trans people. We left behind gender-noncomforming people. We left behind non-monogamous and polyamorous people. We left behind many ofthe people who now find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of the new administration.
With whatever collective power we have as white gay men and women, we need to steer the movement back towards real justice.
That means expanding the interests and activism for our community beyond marriage equality. We have to fight for employment nondiscrimination, fight against “bathroom bills” that target trans people, fight against “religious freedom” bills that legalize discrimination against any of us, work to end the epidemic of homeless queer youth, continue the fight against HIV and AIDS in those communities that are still at-risk. These are issues that affect every one of us, at the community level, and they deserve the same passion and action that we gave to marriage equality.
It also means recognizing that the fight for LGBT justice won’t be won until we fully invest in other justice movements, too. Black lives, trans lives, Muslim lives, female lives – we have to care about all of them. We have to do our part in those struggles in order to fully achieve what we say we want in our struggle. Our community includes all of those lives, and we cannot say we believe in equality if we only fight for the equality of some. There’s no justice for any of us until there’s justice for all of us.
The future of our community depends on white gay men and women taking all of the victories won by the gay rights movement and fighting to expand those victories for all of us in the LGBT community.
There’s no “wait and see.” Lives are at stake.