When Trump was elected as the 45th president, some of my friends tried to remind me that he promised to protect LGBTQ people. They sent me an article of him holding the rainbow flag, as if he were a proud ally. They said he would keep Mike Pence in check. Because even though he believes in conversion therapy and that gay marriage will lead to “societal collapse,” Vice President Pence doesn’t have the power to hurt my way of life. I will be safe with this presidency, they said. They said this to me as a queer person married to a woman, raising a transgender child. As they gloated over their guy winning, they tried to say all of these things to make me feel better. I knew better.
These people weren’t really my friends. A friend would never tell another friend to feel better, to ignore the pit of fear in her stomach in order to justify a vote at the ballot box. If Hillary had won, I would not have told Trump supporters to feel better. I would have told them to buckle up. Hillary wasn’t going to stand for their misogynist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic bullshit anymore.
But Hillary lost, and each day I feel like I am losing too. And I am losing my rights as an LGBTQ individual. Trump and Attorney General Mike Sessions have authorized a license to discriminate in federal agencies by giving them religious liberty protections. This means employers can deny Social Security benefits to a same-sex spouse; federal workers can deny LGBTQ individuals services, even emergency services; LGBTQ kids can be refused help by a federal agency or agency that receives federal money, even in crisis; LGBTQ individuals can be fired and evicted from their homes.
I can be discriminated against because I am human, because I am a woman who loves another woman, because I am a threat to someone’s religious beliefs. I and so many others can have everything taken away through no fault of our own.
After listening to Trump’s speech at the Values Voter Summit, which is a fancy way of saying he spoke to a Christian-based hate group, I was furious. By happily addressing this group of people, he not only endorsed the pamphlet titled “The Health Hazards of Homosexuality” that attendees were handed at the door, he endorsed any and all anti-LGBTQ sentiment and actions.
And just when I take a few days to reclaim my strength, to find hope again, I read this headline: “Donald Trump Mocks Mike Pence for Wanting to ‘Hang All Gay People.'”
My rights are not enough, apparently. My life should be taken too.
I have been nauseous all day. My jaw hurts from unknowingly clenching it. My shoulders ache from tension. Yet my mind keeps trying to make sense of how someone could possibly joke about hanging another person. And don’t tell me it’s just a joke, and that I should get over it. It’s not funny, and fuck you.
Let’s turn the tables. What if the joke was about Pence wanting to hang all blue-eyed people, all people with autism, all left-handed people, or all deaf people? There is nothing funny or justifiable about expressing your opinion to do away with someone because you don’t like how they look, who they are, how they identify, or who they love. I and my family deserve equality and respect and acceptance. The LGBTQ community deserves equality and respect and acceptance. We deserve to feel safe in our homes and our jobs and our country.
The people who still think sexuality or gender identity is a choice are my worst fear. I hate to admit that, but their ignorance breeds hate and harm and justification for both.
The leader of our country thinks the idea that gay people should be hanged is funny. He’s once again giving people the green light to discriminate against, harass, and kill people because of their sexuality.
It’s been 19 years since Matthew Shepard was pistol-whipped, tied to a fence post, and left for dead. He was killed because he was gay. That’s all.
I am gay. And so much more.
I think of Ciara McElveen, a woman who was stabbed to death earlier this year. She was killed because she was transgender. That’s all.
My daughter is transgender. And so much more.
Yes, I know I have allies. Yes, I know I live in a progressive town. Yes, I know I am one of the fortunate ones who lead a pretty safe and magical life.
But I am gay. My very existence makes others so angry and fearful that they would rather see me dead than living a life full of love. And when those people vote for and support an administration who also believe the country is a better place without me in it, then I am no longer safe anywhere.
I am losing rights. I am losing faith. I am losing steam.
I don’t deserve to lose my life.