Whatever political hurdle is put in front of him, former President Donald Trump somehow manages to leap over it. Twice impeached? Easy. A federal indictment for hiding classified documents in a bathroom? No bother. Possible criminal charges for election interference and inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6? No problem.
It’s likely that Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination will be a shoo-in, since polls place him atop the GOP’s ongoing presidential primary race. It helps that Trump’s disciples, both in and out of office, label him their messiah but turn a blind eye to the abysmal reputation he has with a vast majority of the American public.
If Trump reclaims the White House, it would only empower him to foment an assault on democracy and the rule of law, thus painting a harrowing portrait of America’s future. It’s an image that acts as a stark warning to LGBTQ+ Americans especially, since he has already threatened to sound the death knell on their rights at the federal level.
State Republicans have been busy laying the groundwork for Trump’s pilgrimage back to D.C. His involuntary exile in Mar-a-Lago has spurred a crass alt-right takeover in which anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment reigns supreme. Over 500 anti-trans bills have swept through state legislatures, greatly surpassing the number in 2022. Whether that’s clamping down on gender-affirming care for minors, or prohibiting trans athletes from participating in sports, Republicans are bent on imperiling the rights of trans Americans.
They do so while ignoring concrete evidence that shows gender-affirming health care only improves the mental and physical well-being of trans individuals, minimizing the plight of anxiety and depression. Yet listening to experts is not what the GOP is particularly adept at, as railing against wokeism is deployed as a distraction to avoid discussing the blank pages found in their policy playbook.
To bolster its war on woke, the GOP is also to blame for the banning of books from public and school libraries, targeting LGBTQ+ content specifically. Conservatives restricting access to certain literature has risen year-on-year, with 26 percent of titles alone banned for featuring queer characters.
Fear and loathing surrounding the LGBTQ+ community have reached new heights. It loiters when drag queens face a visceral backlash for reading stories to children, and when an overzealous right-wing Supreme Court boasts of one day overturning laws that protect same-sex marriage. This fearmongering around queer issues has reached a fever pitch since the first Trump administration, where trans personnel were prohibited from serving in the military and Pride Month was only acknowledged once.
If Trump will inhabit the White House for what will be a further calamitous four years, upheld by a possible Republican-controlled Congress, and a supermajority on the court, laws like the recent codification of same-sex marriage rights risk being rolled back by his acolytes.
It’s clear as day that he’s never been a LGBTQ+ ally. Last year, a revelatory book shed light on Trump’s decades-long obsession with outing aides and reporters amid his circle. His tendency to question the sexuality of his friends and foes did not prevent the likes of PayPal founder Peter Thiel, or late attorney Roy Cohn, from pledging allegiance to their leader. The focus on right-wing nationalist politics seemingly overrides any attempts at inclusivity within Trump’s orbit.
Trump voiced concern with Republicans imposing near-total abortion bans once it muddied the waters for MAGA fans running in last year’s midterms. He once proclaimed to be pro-choice, a position he may want to recycle to win back waning support from moderate conservatives. However, his utter disdain for so-called gender ideology, on top of his reluctance to fully embrace all colors of the rainbow, stands tall.
This month marks the celebration of Pride across the globe. An irony since LGBTQ+ individuals in the nation leading the free world are suffering the consequences of a political party veering toward authoritarianism. Banning books, protesting drag queens, and rolling back basic protections for a vulnerable community continue at pace. With a possible Trump comeback, it could permit those currently waging war on queer rights to be bolder.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Queer Americans and their allies have a task ahead of 2024, and it requires raising the alarm loud enough to ensure that Trump, whether in an orange jumpsuit or otherwise, never holds the keys to the White House again.
Liam Barrett is a freelance politics and culture writer based in London. His Twitter is @LiamMBarrett.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.
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