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The battle for America continues

Our first task is to be clear-eyed

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Trump International Hotel, Donald Trump, gay news, Washington Blade, post-election

Protesters picket the Trump International Hotel. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Amid post-election grieving and protest, there has been talk about the need for civility. I am all for it, but it must be reciprocated and there must be room for accurately describing our situation rather than papering over the calamitous electoral result.

There was nothing civil about people voting for Donald Trump, a crude and ignorant demagogue whose campaign traded in racism, sexism, religious bigotry and xenophobia, and who advocates torture. Those who bought his extravagant yet vague promises are in for a letdown. Meanwhile, they voted against vulnerable populations that now face a frightening backlash.

Trump won by means of vote suppression, lies, and incitement, with help from the media and political interference by the FBI. He was further aided by the Kremlin and the anarchist group Wikileaks. This resembles a coup d’état more than a legitimate decision. Yet despite all this, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. How is that a mandate for Trump? For the second time in sixteen years, the Electoral College is at odds with the will of the people. Yet triumphant voices tell us that “the people” chose Trump. No we damn well didn’t.

Conciliatory impulses should not fool us into thinking that all Americans share the same interests. Contrary to President Obama (who far outclasses his detractors), we are not all on the same team. Trump’s goals are inimical to mine. We do not serve our cause by pretending our opponents are merely misguided. Among other things, Trump has threatened to jail his opponents, curtail press freedoms, and bar all Muslims from this country.

We must be clear-eyed. Are we supposed to forget that people close to us voted for our erasure? Are we supposed to get over the fact that the eminently qualified, level-headed Hillary Clinton, whose scandals were whipped up by partisans and amounted to nothing, was hounded by sexist double standards while Trump’s lengthy list of offenses was treated lightly?

Among the most preposterous and contemptible statements are those by Log Cabin Republicans, who called Trump “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party,” and now fundraise on their purported access. In fact, Trump chose virulent homophobe Mike Pence for vice president; allowed his convention to pass what Log Cabin itself called the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s history, including support for conversion therapy; and pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Our country remains at stake. Generations of work to make America live up to its ideals are at stake. Trump’s transition is populated with anti-gay fanatics like Ken Blackwell and Kay Cole James. This is draining the swamp? Trump and his band of grifters do not become honest and decent people because cable shows need a new narrative. We will not defeat fascism by excusing or accommodating it.

Twenty million people are at risk of losing their healthcare because Republican nihilists refuse to put country before party. Trump was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, which announced a march to celebrate their victory. He has named white nationalist Steve Bannon of Breitbart as his chief strategist.

The GOP’s refusal to consider the nomination of the widely respected Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is a glaring example of that party’s treasonous insistence that they and only they should be allowed to govern.

Trump refuses to release his taxes, and there is reason to believe he has significant conflicts of interest, while he talks as if turning over his business to his children is a blind trust. It is one eye-stretching assertion after another.

Intramural fighting among Republicans may create openings for Democrats to advance pieces of their agenda. But demons have been unleashed that will not easily be brought to heel. Consider the minority schoolchildren being harassed by classmates in the racist explosion following the election. Consider the surge in hate crimes and vandalism. Consider the attacks on science and other fields of expertise, and on simple decency, throughout Trump’s campaign.

American values, institutions, and people are in peril. Taking care of one another is an immediate concern. As we move forward, resisting Trump and the threat he poses is the decent and patriotic thing to do.

 

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at [email protected].

Copyright © 2016 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. lnm3921

    November 15, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    All the more reason to call for a massive march on Washington to show our numbers and our resolve not to allow or progress to be rolled back or halted!

  2. lnm3921

    November 15, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    You forgot to mention students yelling White Power and one school I think it was where they put up a colored vs. white only water fountain. And all Trump has done to address that was a spot on 60 minutes where he said “Stop It!”. Is that the equivalent to Nancy Reagan’s answer to drug addiction by telling people to “Just say no”!? We know how effective Nancy’s campaign was on that front.

    The Evening news have reported a rise in anti-minority hate speech including against GLBT and it’s only been a couple of weeks since the election!!!! People have good reason to be concerned, and protest. Expect more social unrest.

    • MJ

      November 15, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      But, be fair. I can link to videos of assaults and attacks on Trump supporters too.

      • lnm3921

        November 15, 2016 at 10:55 pm

        These are children in schools who must be learning this from their parents and are being encouraged to do it. The sad thing is that you would think this would be a thing of the past but it continues with a fresh new generation.

        These kids can become violent teenagers attacking minorities including GLBT. For people such as Latinos having to hear white kids yell build the wall, that is unacceptable intolerance. Many Latinos are born here and natural American citizens. No one like to be racially profiled simply because they have a certain ethnic or racial look or marginalized for it either.

        If Trump is going to be a leader for all people then he needs to wise up and do more than say simply stop it. That’s like slapping their hands! Can anyone take that seriously?

        • MJ

          November 15, 2016 at 10:58 pm

          Well, maybe he doesn’t want to give the attacks too much attention (credibility). I understand what you’re saying though.

          • lnm3921

            November 15, 2016 at 11:00 pm

            How can you not give them credibility? They are insulting and hateful. They are threatening. Ignoring them does not fix the problem. It only fans it and makes it worse. If you going to lead, then show leadership. He just seems completely clueless and apathetic!

            If your response is simplistic to these comments and actions then it gives the impression that you stand by them. You only have one chance to make a good impression and Trump has done a terrible job at that!

            Given many of his supporters are intolerant and many homophobic tells me that is what he is. Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are! He can’t take back much that he has already said to offend others nor is he willing to apologize! That’s arrogance.

            I don’t trust anything he says. He flip flops often making it difficult to know what he really stands for. His positions are contradictory and he seems to only be an opportunist who only does what he thinks benefits his power.

    • MJ

      November 15, 2016 at 10:21 pm

  3. Rick Rosendall

    November 18, 2016 at 2:23 pm

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Opinions

Trend of banning books threatens our freedom

‘History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas’

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National Book Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

I knew Helen Keller was a DeafBlind activist. But, until recently, I didn’t know that some of her books were torched.

Nearly 90 years ago, in 1933 Germany, the Nazis added “How I Became a Socialist,” by Keller to a list of “degenerate” books. Keller’s book, along with works by authors from H.G. Wells to Einstein were burned. 

The Nazi book burnings were horrific, you might think, but what does this have to do with the queer community now?

I speak of this because a nano-sec of the news tells us that book censorship, if not from literal fires, but from the removal from school libraries, is alive and well. Nationwide, in small towns and suburbs, school boards, reacting to pressure from parents and politicians, are removing books from school libraries. Many of these books are by queer authors and feature LGBTQ+ characters.

Until recently, I didn’t worry that much about books being banned. My ears have pricked up, every year, in September when Banned Books Week is observed. Growing up, my parents instilled in me their belief that reading was one of life’s great pleasures as well as a chance to learn about new ideas – especially, those we disagreed with. The freedom to read what we choose is vital to democracy, my folks taught me. 

“I don’t care if it’s ‘Mein Kampf,’” my Dad who was Jewish told me, “I’ll defend to my death against its being banned.”

“Teachers should be allowed to teach it,” he added, “so kids can learn what a monster Hitler was.”

In this country, there have always been people who wanted to ban books from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by writer and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to gay poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”

In the 1920s, in the Scopes trial, a Tennessee science teacher was fined $100 for teaching evolution. (The law against teaching evolution in Tennessee was later repealed.)

But, these folks, generally, seemed to be on “the fringe” of society. We didn’t expect that book banning would be endorsed by mainstream politicians.

Until lately.

Take just one example of the uptake in book-banning: In September, the Blade reported, Fairfax County, Virginia public school officials said at a school board meeting that two books had been removed from school libraries to “reassess their suitability for high school students.”

Both books – “Lawn Boy” a novel by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by non-binary author Maia Koabe feature queer characters and themes, along with graphic descriptions of sex.

Opponents of the books say the books contain descriptions of pedophilia. But, many book reviewers and LGBTQ students as well as the American Library Association dispute this false claim.

The American Library Association honored both books with its Alex Award, the Associated Press reported. The award recognizes the year’s “10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.”

Given how things have changed for us queers in recent years – from marriage equality to Pete Buttigieg running for president – it’s not surprising that there’s been a backlash. As part of the blowback, books by queer authors with LGBTQ+ characters have become a flashpoint in the culture wars.

As a writer, it’s easy for me to joke that book banning is fabulous for writers. Nothing improves sales more than censorship.

Yet, there’s nothing funny about this for queer youth. My friend Penny has a queer son. “LGBTQ kids need to read about people like themselves,” she told me. “It’s horrible if queer kids can’t find these books. They could become depressed or even suicidal.”

If we allow books to be banned, our freedom to think and learn will be erased.

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas,” Keller wrote in a letter to students in Nazi Germany.

Anti-queer officials may remove LGBTQ books from school libraries. But, our thoughts will not be unshelved.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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Opinions

Thanksgiving is a time to share

Take a moment to think about what you can do to help others

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This Thanksgiving, many of us will once again celebrate with family and friends around the dinner table. Sadly at too many tables friends and family members will be missing. They will be one of the over 766,000 Americans who lost their lives to coronavirus. May the shared grief over lost loved ones cause us to try to bridge our differences and lift each other. As those of us with plenty sit down for dinner let us not forget the many in the world not so fortunate and think of what we can do to make their lives better.

In the midst of the pandemic we defeated a president who through his words and actions tore our country apart — a president who managed to poison relationships among family and friends. We elected a president who we felt would try to unite the nation. But we know that has yet to happen and the recent reaction to the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial shows us that. The use of race-baiting in the recent Virginia governor’s election shows us that. We still suffer from the implicit permission the former president gave to some Americans to once again give public voice to their sexism, homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. That didn’t suddenly end with his loss. While we cannot pretend those feelings weren’t always there it seemed we had reached a point in American society where people understood you couldn’t voice them in public without rebuke. While it will take many years to put that genie back in the bottle we need to try if we are to move forward again. Around our Thanksgiving table is a place to begin. I am an optimist and believe we can do that even while recognizing it won’t be easy.

Thanksgiving should be a time to look within ourselves and determine who we are as individuals and what we can do to make life better for ourselves, our families, and others here in the United States and around the world.

Around our Thanksgiving table we should take a moment to think about what we can do to help feed the hungry, house the homeless, and give equal opportunity to everyone who wants to work hard. Maybe even give some thought as to how we change policies causing institutional racism to ones giving everyone a chance to succeed. It is a moment to think about how we can open up the eyes of the world to understand how racism, homophobia, and sexism hurt everyone, not just those who are discriminated against.

We must renew our efforts to heal the rifts in our own families and make an effort to try to see each other in a more positive light. If we start to do that with those closest to us we might have a fighting chance to do it with others.

I recognize my life is privileged having just returned from a 14-day transatlantic cruise. My Thanksgiving weekend will be spent with friends in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and we will remember our experiences over the past year. For many it also begins the Christmas season and the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend each year Rehoboth Beach lights its community Christmas tree. So surely we will talk about what that season means to each of us.

For me each year it means thinking about which charities I can support as the requests for end-of-year gifts arrive. It is a time to think about volunteering some precious time for a cause you care about.
Wherever you live, there are many chances to volunteer and do your part to make a difference for others. The rewards of doing so will come back to you in abundance. As anyone who has helped someone else will tell you the feeling you get for having done so is wonderful.

So wishing all my friends and those of you who I may be lucky enough to call friends in the future, a very happy Thanksgiving. May this holiday find you happy, healthy and sharing peaceful times with those you love.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Commentary

Fighting for equality for decades, trans elders still face endless hardships

Lisa Oakley rejected by 60 long-term care facilities in Colo.

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transgender, Gender Conference East, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

November 20 will mark the 22nd International Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international event honoring and commemorating the many transgender people murdered in transphobic hate crimes every year.

Since 2013, at least 200 transgender people have been murdered in the United States alone, 80 percent being Black and Latinx women. This number is undoubtedly an underestimate, as many murders go unreported and trans victims often are misgendered by law enforcement.

These murders are not isolated crime statistics. They grow out of a culture of violence against transgender and non-binary (TGNB) people that encompasses stigma, exclusion, discrimination, poverty, and lack of access to essential resources, including health care, employment and housing. 

These challenges result in early death. In Latin America, for example, it has been reported that the average life expectancy of a transgender person is only 35 years.

This climate of stigma and transphobia is particularly challenging for TGNB older people, who face extraordinary hardships due both to the cumulative impact of lifetimes of discrimination and regular mistreatment in their elder years. Due to isolation from family and greater medical and financial needs, trans older people are more likely to require professionalized elder services and care. 

Unfortunately, these services and the facilities that provide them are often either unavailable to TGNB elders, or hostile to them. A national survey of LGBTQ+ older people by AARP found that more than 60 percent of those surveyed were concerned about how they would be treated in a long-term care setting. This includes the fear of being refused or receiving limited care, in danger of neglect or abuse, facing verbal or physical harassment, or being forced to hide or deny their identity once again. 

This is a sobering reality. In October, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders filed a claim against Sunrise Assisted Living in Maine, which openly denied admission to an older transgender woman because of her gender identity. 

In Colorado, Lisa Oakley was, astonishingly, rejected by 60 long-term care facilities, which her caseworker ascribes to Lisa’s gender identity. One facility that agreed to admit Lisa would only house her with a male roommate. 

After waiting far too long for welcoming care, Lisa eventually got help from SAGE and other community supporters and found a home in Eagle Ridge of Grand Valley. Fortunately, Eagle Ridge has participated in specialized training to be LGBTQ+-welcoming. While Lisa feels welcomed at Eagle Ridge and has made friends, she has been forced to live far from a community she loves. 

These cases in Maine and Colorado are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the discrimination faced by TGNB elders. That’s why it’s so important that Congress pass the Equality Act, which would once and for all prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in key areas like employment, housing, and care and services.

And while legal progress is important, it’s not enough. TGNB elders need more equity in their day to day lives. Older transgender people are more likely to experience financial barriers than non-transgender elders, regardless of age, income and education.

They’re also at a higher risk of disability, general poor mental and physical health, and loneliness, compared to their cisgender counterparts.

These experiences have been part of everyday life for trans elders for far too long. We continue to see them struggle with the long-term effects of transphobia and violence every day. That’s why organizations like SAGE are stepping up our support for TGNB elders by investing $1 million to support TGNB-focused services and advocacy both in New York and nationwide.

And we are continually amazed by the resilience of TGNB elders, creating communities built on their strength and courage. 

Their resilience is nothing new. It dates back generations and was evident during the Stonewall Uprising. Over the years, trans luminaries like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Victoria Cruz—leaders of the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement—and countless others have repeatedly proved that they will not be invisible.  

We see this determination in so many programs and activities led by trans elders at SAGE. 

For example, the TransGenerational Theater Project brings together transgender people of all ages to create theater from their experiences and perspectives. These types of elder-driven programs serve as powerful reminders that transgender older people are leading their lives with resilience, creativity, and perseverance, despite the dangers they face. 

Transgender and non-binary elders have survived and fought for equality for decades. They are brave. They are strong. They are leaders. Here at SAGE, we will continue to walk side-by-side with them as we continue the fight to ensure TGNB elders get the respect, change, and acceptance they deserve.

Michael Adams is the CEO of SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders.

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