It’s been a pretty lousy year for the gays of the world:
the death of not one but two gender queer icons in the form of David Bowie and Prince; the tragic Orlando shootings in June; and, the cherry on the cake, the election of Donald Trump to the most powerful position in the world.
One of the most controversial pieces of legislation Trump has toyed with is redirecting essential AIDS research funding to gay conversion therapy, alongside restricting gay marriage rights so soon after a number of states declared it legal. It marks a huge step back for gay communities not just in the US but on a global scale, where many looked to America for progressive politics.
How a man who has literally said the words ‘There can be no discrimination against gays but I’m against gay marriage’ won the presidency is another issue altogether. But while it may be easy for us on this side of the pond to throw stones, Trump’s power and visibility will likely spread his homophobic rhetoric far and wide. There has already been an increase in calls to suicide hotlines.
We spoke to Alex Van Gelder, chair of the LGBT Liberation Group in Sheffield to hear his thoughts on the upcoming Trump presidency. He says: “Since the Brexit vote, racism in the country seems to have increased. With Trump having won the election, one of the most concerning things is how this will affect people’s behaviour and how the LGBT+ community will feel. It’s certainly disheartening someone so full of hate seems to have gained so many followers, though only in the coming months will we see the real impact.
“People voted for Trump for a number of reasons, but homophobia, Islamophobia, racism and sexism undoubtedly played a part,” Van Gelder says. “Sadly, we are yet to see what type of President Mr Trump will be. But its time like this it’s important to remember the last 50 years, and look how far we’ve come.
“The LGBT+ community isn’t known for backing down when we’re being discriminated against. I see no reason to think that we’d roll over and allow discrimination to happen after all we’ve been through as a community. We will continue to fight for equal rights and to end discrimination.”
Much of what Trump spouts is nothing other than hot air, whether it’s his sexual conquests or his wealth and it’s been said that many of the remarks he’s made were purely to gain traction in the polls. Well, here’s to hoping that he’s as full of shit as he seems.
If you know someone who is struggling there are a number of hotlines you can ring for advice.
Try Switchboard LGBT on 0300 330 0630