In the year 2018, it’s a simple, warm greeting about as controversial as “Happy Mother’s Day.” So why can’t the White House say it?
That’s right: For the second year running, our president and his staff have been unable to issue a meaningless proclamation that June is Pride Month.
It’s not that they’re too busy; Mr. Trump has managed to proclaim this month African-American Music Appreciation Month, National Homeownership Month, National Ocean Month, National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, Great Outdoors Month.
Let’s be clear. There’s no cost to a presidential proclamation. This isn’t about money, or about some contentious issue, like whether a baker can refuse to bake me a cake or whether a doctor can refuse to treat my daughter in the emergency room. Indeed, Christians can now refuse, scorn, and discriminate against me all they want, just like Jesus told them not to.
This isn’t even a policy decision. Trump could declare Pride Month and keep going about his business of appointing anti-gay judges who think that trans children are Satan’s spawn. Hypocritical, yes, but hardly new ground for this administration. (To be fair, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed Pride Month, both personally and via the State Department website.)
But it is political nonetheless. Donald Trump is in the White House because conservative evangelicals put him there. He knows it, they know it, and everybody knows he’s got to keep kissing their asses if he wants to stay in power.
And if there’s one thing religious conservatives don’t want, it’s for people like me to be proud of who we are. Indeed, according to them, even to say “who we are” is a mistake. We aren’t anybody—we aren’t gay, we certainly aren’t trans. We’re just confused people who choose a “lifestyle” of sin. And why should anyone be proud of a sin? We ought to be feeling shame.
Really, I don’t even blame the White House for adopting these Christian Right lies that trans people are mentally ill, that gay people are just straight people into anal sex, and of course, that the Imaginary Man In The Sky created the world 6,000 years ago, fossils and all, and that it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. Politics is politics. Trump has to shore up his base.
No, the ones I blame are those willfully ignorant folk who say that LGBTs are doing just fine under Trump/Pence, or that we’re actually better off under a flaxen-haired strongman who keeps us safe from Muslims who want to kill us.
First of all, even if that statement were true—and it is not one iota true—it would be immoral as hell. I’ve got mine, it says, and screw the immigrants, Muslims, working poor, and everyone else on the wrong side of the Trump regime. As if the first thing an oppressed population should do, when it’s gotten a taste of liberation, is crap on all other oppressed populations.
Fortunately, however, LGBT people face no such choice in 2018. We don’t have to choose between our freedoms and everyone else’s, because along with everyone else who isn’t a white, Christian upper-middle-class-or-above man, we’re getting systematically beaten down by this clown car of an administration, bit by bit by bit.
Need a reminder?
– The Justice Department has implemented a religious exemptions policy that insulates everybody—companies, individuals, whatever—from civil rights liability if they have a religious reason.
Forget the cake baker, OK? Per Jeff Sessions’ “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” memorandum of October 2017, Hobby Lobby can turn gays away, refuse to hire gays, refuse to pay for LGBT or women’s health expenses, and put up a sign saying “God Hates Fags” and attorney generals are ordered not to investigate them. I am not exaggerating.
– Not to be outdone, the Department of Health and Human Services now has an Office of Discrimination to investigate any complaint that a hospital, doctor, pharmacist, or other health care worker is being “discriminated against” by being required to give my baby daughter a checkup. Again, not exaggerating: This actually happened to the daughter of a lesbian couple in Detroit.
– The Department of Education rescinded guidance meant to protect vulnerable trans students, since according to right-wing fearmongers, trans people are actually sexual predators who want to rape people in the bathroom rather than kids who want to pee (and are reportedly starving themselves so they don’t have to).
– The Department of Justice rescinded Obama-era rules on trans people for the same set of reasons—also because of the Adam and Steve thing, above.
– The Commerce Department scrapped a plan to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 census, so we’ll have no official data on how many LGBTs there are in the country. After all, we don’t exist anyway, remember?
– According to Lambda Legal, 20 anti-gay federal judges have been confirmed so far to life-tenure appointments. That number is based on documented statements the judges made.
– One of those judges is Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote a recent opinion that the right to same-sex marriage does not include any of the benefits of marriage, like having your employer pay spousal benefits.
– The on-again, off-again ban on transgender soldiers is humiliating, degrading, and unjustified by any rationale other than pandering to the Christian Right’s transphobia.
– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been banned from even using the word “transgender.” The anti-trans campaign is part of the administration’s overall war on science, which denies scientific fact if it conflicts with someone’s dogma.
– One of the most extreme anti-gay bigots in America, Tony Perkins, is now on the U.S. Committee for International Religious Freedom, where he and his boss, former Gov. Sam Brownback, have been given carte blanche to use the platform to implement anti-LGBT and anti-choice policies worldwide.
– Cutbacks at the State Department also mean that crucial aid to LGBT organizations struggling against repressive regimes will be decimated. Instead, it’s likely that Brownback, Perkins, et al will aid the “family” orgs that are persecuting them.
– Likewise, our country’s abandonment of international human rights endangers millions of LGBT people around the world. These people depend on the international community monitoring what their governments are doing—and now America won’t help.
– Finally, queer people are not magically insulated from the attacks on immigrants and others. Many undocumented immigrants fled here because their families and communities would kill them if they found out they were LGBT. Whether they were granted asylum or not, sending them “back” to their home countries can mean a death sentence.
Yes, Pride Month is a symbolic gesture. But Trump’s non-declaration of Pride is a symbol backed up with countless substantive attacks on LGBT equality and freedom. Whether it’s pro-Trump white gay bros or comfortable cisgender gay men who think we’re all fine because they happen to be fine, any queer or ally who thinks that “this is fine” is deeply and dangerously deluded.
Maybe Trump is right. Maybe we should forget Gay Pride Month. Let’s declare June the month of Queer Rage.