November 9, 2016 at 9:12 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. election night party turns somber
election night, gay news, Washington Blade

Hundreds of Hillary Clinton supporters filled Town on Tuesday night, only to leave shocked and disappointed. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than 600 people who packed the D.C. gay nightclub Town Danceboutique on Tuesday night for a planned election celebration grew progressively glum as the election returns projected on giant video screens showed Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton.

The event, which was organized by the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, drew a crowd overwhelmingly supportive of Clinton and Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and Senate.

Many appeared visibly shaken as CNN and MSNBC reporters and commentators announced that Trump had won or was ahead in several key battleground states that could decide the outcome of the election.

“I’m very concerned that things are not going quite the way that my side of the aisle thought they were going to go,” said D.C. resident Brett Freeman minutes after it was announced that Trump won the state of Florida.

“My thought a week ago was that strong heads would win out and it seems like most of the country is voting based on their heart, which I’m not sure is actually healthy,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

Kevin DeMill, another D.C. resident, called the unfolding election returns “pretty jarring” and said he was deeply troubled over the enormity of what was happening and how it would be viewed Wednesday morning.

Those attending the event, who packed the club’s lower and upper floors, cheered loudly each time the TV reporters announced Clinton had won a state and booed loudly when Trump won a state.

The somber atmosphere at the event was offset to some degree when Victory Fund officials announced that LGBT candidates had won election to seats in the legislatures of several states.

Earlier in the evening, before Trump began winning more states than Clinton, HRC’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training, Mary Beth Maxwell, told the gathering about HRC and the Victory Fund’s efforts to elect LGBT supportive candidates throughout the country.

“This year, there are an estimated 10 million LGBTQ voters in the United States,” Maxwell said. “In key battleground states like Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, the number of potential LGBTQ voters exceeds the state’s margin of victory in the 2012 national election,” she said.

Although the network news broadcasts discussed exit poll data on how various demographic groups voted such as African Americans, Latinos and women, they did not report on exit poll data for LGBT voters.

election night, gay news, Washington Blade

The mood turned somber at the Human Rights Campaign / Victory Fund election watch party at Town Danceboutique on Nov. 8 after CNN called the election in Florida for Donald Trump. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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