Despite Donald Trump’s post-electoral pledge of being a “president for all Americans”, things look decidedly unsettling for the LGBT community, right now. Granted, he only said he would a be president for all Americans. He never at any point intimated that he would be a president anyone would like, a fact that likely hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Indeed, if subtexts are anything to go by, members of the American LGBT community should be justifiably worried. His cursory courtship of this demographic aside (which involved brandishing the rainbow flag like an outsized towel at a spa resort, and stumbling, through sheer unfamiliarity, over the “LGBT” initialism, as though a random sequence of arbitrary letters, rather than being representative of real people with real concerns), Trump has surrounded himself, both pre-and post-election, with as homophobic a coterie as could conceivably be assembled. Like a boy band for bigots, the roster may well change, but the underlying regressive and repressive sentiment is unmistakable. For more on Trump’s likely top picks for his cabinet, refer to Politico’s assessment on the matter, but for now, ladies and gentlemen and non-binary equivalents, I give to you President-elect Trump’s triptych of toxicity:
Mike Pence, Vice-President elect
- described by PinkNews as a “hardline evangelical”
- as governor of Indiana, signed a bill allowing businesses to withhold their services from LGBT customers, citing religious reasons
- prevaricates on whether companies should be allowed to fire LGBT employees on the basis of their sexuality
- supports federal funding of gay conversion therapies (although not “electroshock” therapy, as clarified by Snopes and others)
Ben Carson, possible Health Secretary, or Education Secretary
- evangelical Christian/Seventh-Day Adventist
- believes homosexuality is a choice, and “acquired”, citing prison rape as “proof”
- stubbornly resistant to the concept of “consent”, variously comparing homosexuality to bestiality and paedophilia
- considers “the transgender thing” “the height of absurdity“
- believes that the Pyramids of Giza were in reality grain silos built by the biblical Joseph
- and much, much more
It’s hard to picture anything potentially doing a greater disservice to critical thinking, even to basic, school-level knowledge nationwide, than putting someone of such breathtaking, tinfoil-plated, delusional ignorance in charge of learning. (Although who knows, it could have the opposite effect and push people to develop their critical faculties.)
Ken Blackwell, chief domestic policy advisor of Trump’s presidential transition team
- evangelical Christian
- believes that homosexuality is a “choice” and “lifestyle” that can be changed, in blithe contradiction to the views of the American Psychiatric Association and the Supreme Court of the United States
- Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, of the Family Research Council, which is designated an extremist anti-LGBT hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center
Collectively (hell – even individually), these three pull off the hat-trick of actually making the 45th President of the United States look like a moderate. Trump is many things, most of them unpleasant, but I have never considered him stupid. A not insignificant part of his victory was due to his canny appraisal of, and pandering to, a nation’s visceral and justified frustration with the status quo, while his fellow Republicans dithered, and the Democrats allegedly succumbed to internecine skulduggery, in ousting the one candidate who by some accounts might have stood a chance at moving into the White House, come January 20th.
Paradoxically, Trump’s constant pathological lying, and policy flip-flopping since his presidential victory, may yet signal that he is unlikely to be as bigotedly draconian a president as he was a candidate, making his campaign trail behaviour, to quote journalist Greg Dyke, mere “populist electioneering”. It is not rare – in fact, it is nearly standard – for candidates for high office to run on a more partisan ticket, before shifting somewhat to the centre, after winning. Given the influencers he is surrounding himself with, I for one almost find myself sincerely hoping Trump stays in office for his full term. (Lay off those KFC Bucket Meals, Don.) With advice and support from the likes of Blackwell, a Pence presidency with people like Carson in prominent positions would set America well on the path to re-entering the Middle Ages, in terms of those hard-won civil rights for the LGBT community, and others besides.