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LGBT Trump voters are the forgotten Americans

The 14 percent of us voted for him can become a bridge



LGBT Vote, gay news, Washington Blade

Attendees of ‘Wake Up! The Most FAB Party at the RNC’ during the Republican National Convention. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Republican share of the LGBT vote has dropped from 27 percent for John McCain, to 22 percent for Mitt Romney to an abysmal 14 percent with Donald Trump. Trump, and even Mike Pence, know they can do better, and they want to do better.

The 86 percent of LGBT people who voted for their opponents must learn to live for 4-8 years under Trump-Pence. Our new president is the most pro-LGBT Republican candidate ever. LGBT people need to work with him to protect essential HIV programs and to advance our rights at every opportunity.

For Trump, the rebel 14 percent can become a bridge to a bigger LGBT vote. Trump promises to reach out and listen to “the forgotten Americans.”  The LGBT non-PC 14 percent are the most forgotten of all. That needs to change for the good of the Republican Party, all LGBT people and all Americans.

Trump respects loyalty and loves loyalists. We of the 14 percent are among the most tested of all Trump loyalists. We salute our Hispanic and black brothers and sisters for Trump who rejected groupthink to follow conscience. Like us, they endured bullying, abuse and ostracism for their political beliefs.

Juan Hernandez, a fellow Log Cabin Republican, was attacked by anti-Trump thugs at a Trump rally. He was bloodied, and suffered a concussion and broken nose. “Coming out as gay was really difficult,” Juan said, “but coming out as a Trump Republican was far more difficult.”

In June, my own support of Trump cost me my 15-year long position as political consultant to AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Three weeks ago my landscaping was vandalized for my sin of displaying a Trump sign in my yard. Juan’s and mine are just two among hundreds of abuses suffered by the rebel 14 percent who followed their consciences to vote for Trump.

Outreach to rich gays like Peter Thiel is great, but not enough. Trump must reach out to the forgotten LGBT voters who paid a high price in bullying and ostracism to support him.

Soon, Trump needs to reach out to forgotten People Living with HIV, who fear their lifelines to vital HIV drugs and care may be endangered. Their existential fears are real and becoming more widespread.  The one place Trump should never emulate Ronald Reagan is his reputation for forgetting about people with AIDS.

Several HIV and LGBT presidential initiatives are imperative: First, assurance that access to care and treatment for people with AIDS and other life-threatening diseases will not suffer any disruption as ACA is replaced. Second, protect and re-authorize the Ryan White Care Act.

Third, drug price/access negotiation is almost certain to become an issue in the next Congress. Trump has promised to use his negotiation skills to gain better deals for American patients. He must also speed research through tax incentives, by cutting FDA red tape, and improving NIH. The lives of HIV patients in developing countries matter. Trump’s State and Commerce departments must negotiate agreements to end access crippling tariffs in countries that still tax essential pharmaceuticals.

Those Trump supporters who heard his call to protect women’s and LGBT rights from terrorism and bigotry posturing as religion must not be disappointed. Trump should re-affirm this commitment as president. To us, Jihadism and Sharia are Hitler in a burka.  We trust Trump to never sell out women’s and LGBT lives and rights for 30 barrels of oil. We hope Trump can become, like Churchill, a leader with the vision and courage to confront the greatest threats to freedom and universal human rights in our time.

LGBT Americans need more than just tolerance, equality dictates recognition. Gays played key roles in major civil rights movements—remember Harvey Milk, originally a Republican, and Bayard Rustin. They are true American heroes, yet neither gets the recognition his achievements and sacrifices merit. Remember dying AIDS activists whose protests speeded treatments for HIV and spearheaded the worldwide patient rights movement; their heroism still gets scant notice.

It is only reasonable and fair that LGBT people be given open recognition proportional to our numbers, contributions and sacrifices. The thousands of LGBT vets and those who gave their lives in America’s wars deserve open recognition. Above all, America must never forget the millions of LGBT lives blighted or destroyed by bigotry during America’s long failure to grant LGBTs the protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment and the equal respect and justice required by the Judeo-Christian ethic.

James Driscoll, Ph.D., is a longtime AIDS activist and member of Log Cabin Republicans.

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  1. Im Just Sayin

    November 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    “First, assurance that access to care and treatment for people with AIDS and other life-threatening diseases will not suffer any disruption as ACA is replaced. Second, protect and re-authorize the Ryan White Care Act.”

    What? Do you mean to tell us Mr. Driscoll, that you, a seasoned political consultant for AIDS organizations, and your likeminded LCR brethren didn’t have those assurances before you supported Mr. Trump eschewing Mrs. Clinton who would have continued unimpeded critical care for HIV/AIDS related illnesses? Now that was pretty f–king stupid wasn’t it? Of course, I appreciate the lecture as to how “we” who did vote for Clinton, now all need to rise up and fix the Trump sh-t show that people like yourself wrought on the LGBT community. Then again, didn’t you say we just need to find a way to live with it for the next 4 – 8 years, except of course those who relied on the ACA for care. Their prospects of out- living the Trump presidency have been considerably diminished now haven’t they Jim.

  2. ☽ Majorana Fermion ☾

    November 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    “‘Wake Up! The Most FAB Party at the RNC”

    Oh, the irony of them using being woke…

  3. lnm3921

    November 23, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    What is this dribble? I don’t have to come to grips with Trump being President or Pence VP anymore than you came to terms with Obama being President or Biden VP! Many social conservatives refused to accept Obama and opposed him tooth and nail since he was first elected. Stop being so presumptuous.

    Trump the most pro-lgbt GOP President ever? Really? How so? I wouldn’t know that from his recent appointment like Session as AG who is very anti-lgbt. Many of our enemies have been or are being considered for key positions. Pence as a VP pick said it all from the get go!

    He’s promised to support Religious Freedom Restoration ACTS and the FADA. He plans to appoint extremist to the judicial bench. Stop feeding us your right-wing BS and propaganda! He’s done or said nothing to make us believe otherwise.

    Nothing Trump promises can be trusted anyway. He’s even lied to his own supporters on key issues he said he’d support. He flip flops constantly. You cannot trust someone like that. Beside it’s Pence that will be pushing the public policy and Trump rubber stamping it! Wake up and stop living in denials!

  4. RakSiam

    November 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Sorry to hear this guy’s friend was assaulted and that his yard was vandalized. But, c’mon. Saying Trump is the most pro-LGBT Republican candidate (despite choosing Pence who is the most anti-LGBT Republican as his VP) means the bar is awfully low. You’re judged by the company you keep. In this case all you need to do is look at the people Trump surrounds himself with. Not to mention the bullies and terrorists assaulting GLBT people and people of color all around the country in his name. I also seem to recall Trump saying plenty of unkind things about our community during the campaign. How any self-respecting GLBT person could vote for bullies like Trump and Pence is beyond me.

  5. OneUrsineOne

    November 25, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    “Our new president is the most pro-LGBT Republican candidate ever.” That’s faint but damning praise considering the bar is so low it’s resting on the ground. Following this praise, the sycophantic author posts a wish list that will get the attention the Trumpets think it deserves: none. If Trump and his growing band of cronies were truly pro-LGBT, there wouldn’t need to be a futile wish list by yet another self-defeating, delusional Trumpet. I’ll read anyone’s well-considered opinion; this is not one of them.

  6. DrWolf927

    November 25, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Well, Mama always said that there will always be some chickens that vote for Colonel Sanders.

  7. JoJoViolet

    November 26, 2016 at 12:28 am

    It’s just sad. The idea that the author thinks 86% of our community voted against Trump because we couldn’t think for ourselves is repulsive. Equally repulsive is that there is 14% of our community that is being fooled by this flim flam man. Do you somehow think that you are more enlightened to the truth? That the media has brainwashed us? Or maybe you just think we’re stupid.
    One thing I must confess, I hope you are more right than we are cuz our version of Trump will spell disaster for all too many of our community.

  8. Count Dracula

    November 26, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Nice article. Ignore all the morons below.

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Opinion | LGBTQ Virginians advocate D.C. statehood

The right of all Americans to be part of our democratic society



My hometown will always be Washington, D.C. It’s the place where I was born and spent all of the first seven days of my life. As a lifelong Virginian however, where I live and attended schools, I straddle two communities important to me. 

As a business owner of 30 years in Washington, D.C., I pay many of my taxes and payroll taxes to the Nation’s Capital while I also pay income tax to Virginia where I’m a citizen.

Most important of all, as a gay Virginia voter, I can think of few lifelong political goals more important to me than achieving statehood for Washington, D.C. One of the compelling reasons I still make my home in Virginia and cross the Potomac River every day of my life, is because of my right as a Virginian to vote for two U.S. senators and for a member of the House of Representatives with the power to vote in Congress.

(It is still shocking to know that, with Washington, D.C. statehood still beyond grasp, the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton who represents D.C. in the U.S. House of Representatives, has never yet had the authority to vote on the floor of the House.)

At an early age, I was dumbfounded to know that D.C. then did not even have a local government. We lacked an elected mayor and city council, with almost all decisions for the District of Columbia made by the federal government. Yet today, even with a mayor and local government in place, it is breathtaking to know that my friends, neighbors and co-workers still have zero voice in the Capitol and no one to vote for them – and for us – in Congress.

Consider that one of the world’s most diverse and educated cities has so often been bullied by extreme conservative leaders on Capitol Hill who – whenever possible – turn back the clock for D.C. citizens on voting rights, abortion rights, gun measures and our civil rights including LGBTQ equality. Not a single voter in D.C. has much, if any, say over any of those decisions.

The absence of statehood and the lack of real voting rights means that the unforgivable strains of racism and homophobia often held sway not just for Washington D.C., but in denying the United States a true progressive majority on Capitol Hill too. 

Virginians get it. In the past decade, we’ve worked very hard in every county and city in the commonwealth to turn our regressive political past into a bright blue political majority. We have elected LGBTQ candidates to state and local offices in unprecedented numbers. Our vote is our power.

More significantly, through the work of Equality Virginia and its many allies, we are repealing scores of anti-LGBTQ measures and reforming our statutes and constitution to secure equal rights as LGBTQ voters, adoptive parents, married couples, students, and citizens. Doesn’t Washington, D.C. deserve that future?

Virginia needs more states – like D.C. – to join forces and represent all Americans. To achieve this, and to defeat or neuter the anti-democratic Senate filibuster rule, we need our friends, allies and neighbors, the citizens of Washington, D.C. to share in our democratic ambitions.

Long ago, Washington, D.C. resident, abolitionist and civil rights leader, Frederick Douglass declared that “the District is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people, and by the people. Washington, D.C. residents pay taxes, just like residents of Nevada, California or any other state. Washington, D.C. residents have fought and died in every American war just like residents of Ohio, Kentucky or any other state. The District deserves statehood and Congress should act to grant it.” 

Speaking for LGBTQ Virginians, we agree. Conferring statehood is not a gift nor a blessing from the rest of us, but instead, it is the absolute right of all Americans to be part of our democratic society. As LGBTQ Americans, if we are to pass the Equality Act and other fundamental civil rights measures, we need the State of Washington, D.C. and its voters by our side.

Bob Witeck is a longtime LGBTQ civil rights advocate, entrepreneur, and Virginian, with long roots and longstanding ties to D.C.

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Opinion | Representation matters: The gayest Olympics yet

From one out athlete to more than 160 in just 33 years



OK, I really want a Tom Daley cardigan. The now gold-medal Olympian told Britain’s The Guardian that he took up crocheting during the pandemic. He even has an Instagram page dedicated to his knit creations, MadeWithLoveByTomDaley. It’s all very adorable; it’s all very Tom Daley. 

All that aside, you’d have to be practically heartless to not feel something when Tom Daley and his diving partner Matty Lee won the gold on Monday in the men’s synchronized 10-meter diving competition, placing just 1.23 points ahead of the Chinese. And then seeing him with tears in his eyes on the podium as “God Save the Queen” played. Later that week, he knitted a little bag featuring the Union Jack to hold and protect his medal. So very wholesome

Daley is certainly one of the highest profile LGBTQ athletes in these games. Besides the diver, the 2020 Summer Olympics, now in 2021 because of the pandemic, are hosting more than 160 out athletes. A record to be sure, but calling it a record does it somewhat of an injustice. The United States sent the first out athlete to the 1988 Summer Olympics, Robert Dover an equestrian rider competing in dressage. Dover remained the only out (sharing the title once in 1996 with Australian diver Craig Rogerson) for 10 years. Then, during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the number of out athletes jumped to 15. London’s 2012 Olympics saw the number increase to 23. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro saw the number jump to 68 out athletes. And now we’re at over 160. 

So you get the trend building here. From one out athlete to more than 160. So very far, so very fast. And competing in everything from handball to sailing to golf to skateboarding. Also, noteworthy, New Zealand sent the first trans athlete, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard. These are but numbers and names, but to be sure, this sort of representation, this sort of visibility, is hugely important. Not just for athletes coming up behind them, but let’s think too of those out there, not yet even out, maybe watching in their parents’ living room. Seeing Tom Daley thank his husband, mention their son, this sort of queer normality being broadcast as if it is both groundbreaking and at the same time nothing at all — the importance of this cannot be overstated. 

On top of that, growing up gay, how many times were we all told, whether outright or simply implied, that sports were more or less off limits to us. Meant to display the peaks of gender and ability, sports were not meant for those who couldn’t fit neatly into that narrative. But it appears that that narrative is slowly becoming undone. Just look beyond the Olympics, to the wider world of sports. Earlier this summer, pro-football’s Carl Nassib came out.   

And maybe I’m just of a generation that marvels at the destruction of each and every boundary as they come down. We had so very little as far as representation back then. Now to see it all, and in so many different sports, you can’t help but to wonder what the future will hold for us; and it really delights the imagination, doesn’t it? 

It is the gayest Olympics yet. And if the trend laid out above continues, it will only get gayer as the years go on. And if it’s a barometer for anything, I think we will see a lot of things getting a bit gayer from now on.

Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.

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Opinion | Blame Mayor Bowser for violence epidemic?

In a word, ‘no,’ as the problem is nationwide



The simple answer to the question “Does the Mayor get the blame for the violence epidemic?” is NO! This is not something that can be laid at any one person’s feet. The epidemic of gun violence is gripping the entire nation. 

The frustration and outrage I and everyone else feels are palpable. It’s frightening when you hear gunshots in your neighborhood. It makes bigger headlines when the shots fired are in neighborhoods not used to that like the recent shooting on 14th and Riggs, N.W. When the shots rang out patrons of upscale restaurants like Le Diplomate ran or ducked under their tables for cover. When shots were fired outside Nationals stadium the national media lit up to report it. The truth is we must have the same outrage every time shots are fired and people hurt or killed in any neighborhood of our city.  

Trying to lay the blame for this at the feet of the mayor, as some people on social media and in opinion and news columns in the Washington Post are doing is wrong. Some would have you believe the mayor is just sitting by and allowing the violence to happen. There are pleas “Mayor Bowser do something!” as if she could wave a magic wand and the shootings will stop. 

In a recent Washington Post column, “Bowser pressed to act after shootings,” a number of Council members are quoted including Chairman Phil Mendelson, Ward 2 member Brooke Pinto, Ward 4 member Janeese Lewis George, At-large member Anita Bonds and Ward 5 member Kenyan McDuffie. They all call for something to be done but not one of them says what they would do. It’s clear they are as frustrated and outraged as the rest of us but have no easy answers. What is clear is casting blame on the mayor and police commissioner won’t help to stop the violence and shootings. 

Again, this epidemic of violence isn’t just an issue for D.C. but a national epidemic. Recently our mayor sat beside the president at a White House meeting called to discuss what can be done about this with mayors and law enforcement officials from around the nation. No one from the president down had an answer that can make it stop right away. Many in D.C. would be surprised at the ranking of the 50 cities with the most violent crime per 100,000 residents showing D.C. with 977 violent crimes per 100,000 residents at number 27 behind cities like Rockford, Ill., Anchorage, Ala., and Milwaukee, Wisc. Crime in nearly all those cities and murder rates have gone up, in many cases dramatically, since the pandemic. 

The solution to ending gun violence is to get the guns out of the hands of those who are using them for crime but that is easy to say and much harder to do. We know ending poverty will make a difference. Giving every child a chance at a better education and ensuring real opportunities for every young person will make a difference. We must also hold people responsible for the serious crimes they commit and often courts are a system of revolving door justice where we find the same people arrested for a serious crime back on the street committing another one and the same gun used for multiple crimes.

There are anti-crime programs that might work but they need buy-in from the entire community including activists and the clergy who must work in concert with our political leadership. D.C. is funding a host of programs including ‘violence disrupters,’ job training, and  mental health and substance abuse programs. They all need more money and more support. 

In D.C., we have only 16 elected officials with real power; the Council, the mayor, the attorney general and our congressional representative. We have community leaders elected to local ANCs. When members of the council attack the mayor, some simply to make political hay for their own future election, it won’t solve any problems. 

This must be viewed as a crisis and our 16 elected leaders should sit down, agree to a series of anti-crime programs and efforts they will adequately fund, and stop attacking each other. Once they agree on the programs to fund they should bring together ANC members from across the city to a meeting at the convention center and work out a plan for what each can do to move us forward to safer neighborhoods. 

We must work together as one if we are to succeed in making life safer and better for all. 

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

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