Mark My Words

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews.


We’ve reach that time of year when we look back, take stock of the year and begin to think about what will be in the New Year. This year, that is somewhat clouded and overshadowed — as is everything at this point — by the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America. 

 

OK, enough moaning over the election already. It’s the holiday season and nothing will really change for another few weeks, so let’s take this last Trump-less holiday season to do what has become the custom: celebrate our friends, family and those who give their time each year to make our young community a better place in which to live. There will be plenty of time to not moan but to take action in just a few weeks.

1. Trump is President-elect. If that angers or frightens you, don’t get upset, get involved.

2. What are the signs we in the LGBT community should be looking for? Trump has already made the statement that marriage equality is already the law of the land (in a “60 Minutes” interview last Sunday). But how about the Equality Act so that members of our community are not discriminated against? The reality is that, unless the Republican Congress decides it’s on their list, it will die — unless that organization I mentioned above begins to concentrate on those Republicans.

What about all those executive orders that President Obama signed to give our community what relief he could without the Equality Act? The President-elect had promised during the campaign to undo all of Obama’s EOs on the first day. Does he actually do that, or do he and his staff understand that some of the orders have value? The same holds true for department directives issued under the Obama administration. This is where whom he appoints affects all of us. 

Will there be any LGBT appointments to high-level positions in a Trump administration? Or are we to be invisible again in government? And what about the small things like Pride? Will there be an LGBT Pride reception in June in the White House? That might sound silly, but I must admit as one who has been fighting against our community’s invisibility for almost 50 years now and who has been at a number of those receptions, I almost felt like we were no longer invisible, as we were before our struggle gained momentum after Stonewall. Which brings me to:

3. The other day I went to pick up my lunch from a place I often visit and where I know the staff well. When I arrived, a staffer said to me: “Last week [referring to the Trump election], I felt really sad for myself and my family. That’s nothing compared to what your community must feel.” The words just flowed out of my mouth: “Thank you, but we’ve been here before and we know how to fight back if necessary. We were here and fought back during Nixon, Reagan and Bush. We’re stronger now and more organized.”

Which led me to understand why I and I’m guessing all those in our community over 50 years of age and older look at this a little differently. We remember when we were invisible, we remember feeling helpless. We then organized, and we did it well. Powered with the new openness and visibility and more importantly the radicalization brought by Gay Liberation Front, the president no longer had our silence. Most important of these was Reagan, who during the early days of HIV/AIDS felt that sting of ACT UP and the organized pressure of newly formed organizations to sustain that battle.

And that is the answer: Get involved. If this shock creates one thing, it might very well end the apathy of our community and the realization that our struggle is not simply having cocktail parties and chatting with office holders. It’s doing what this community did well, but no longer does: Getting in their faces and not allowing them to forget us. That is the lesson of ending invisibility.

We are an incredible community. Have trust in each other, and get involved. 

Like many of you, watching the election returns Tuesday night was a shock to the system. It did not turn out the way many of us had hoped it would. Some in our community will blame those who didn’t do enough. Others will say the strategies of the Human Rights Campaign, Victory Fund or Gill Foundation set us on the wrong path. 

The “D” in this title has a double meaning: Damn Republicans, and vote straight Democrat, up and down that ballot.

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