This will be startling only to those who bought the terrible narrative of some of our most influential political reporters, who throughout the 2016 campaign told us Donald Trump was “more accepting on gay issues” than most Republicans. But it is now undeniable: Donald Trump is the most anti-LGBTQ president in U.S. history.
How do we measure that? By actions? By outcomes? Or by thoughts and beliefs?
Let’s start with the last one. It’s just plain stupid to measure whether or not a politician is anti-LGBTQ by his or her personal beliefs. These really don’t matter. In fact, trying to gauge what Trump actually believed using superficial markers is what had much of the media fall into a trap in 2016, claiming he was more pro-LGBTQ―simply because he’s from New York, knew and did business with openly gay people, and said nice things about “LGBTQ” people now and then― rather than looking at whom Trump was making political promises to.
As veteran lesbian journalist Kerry Eleveld pointed out in July:
[D]uring Trump’s candidacy, mainstream reporters applied a distinctly 2008 political mindset to a Republican candidate who, on the surface perhaps, sounded different. Nice talk was good enough, even revolutionary, as they framed it. They didn’t bother to look at the obvious train wreck in the making when, for instance, Trump made anti-gay crusader Mike Pence his choice for VP or promised right-wing conservatives he would nominate Supreme Court justices to overturn the landmark Obergefell ruling.
I’ve noted before that just as Trump is from New York and knew queer people, Ronald Reagan was from Hollywood and had many gay friends too, including the legendary actor Rock Hudson.
And that brings us to outcomes. Reagan, no matter his personal beliefs (or his friendships), allowed thousands to die due to his negligence on HIV and AIDS, refusing to fund research and programs and not even uttering the word “AIDS” for years while the epidemic exploded. He cruelly did this in the face of people pleading for help, and amid activist demands for action. And that was because he pandered to the exact same constituency in the base of the GOP to whom Trump is now genuflecting: white evangelicals.
If outcomes were the only measure, Reagan might be the most anti-LGBTQ president in history simply based on the catastrophe of mass suffering and death that AIDS neglect created. But overt actions, in addition to willful negligence, count as well. And…