The Trump presidency has truly redefined “breaking news” in the most literal way. Every day there is a new harm, a new insult, a new degradation heaped onto the American people. If you feel exhausted disgusted, and helpless, well then, know that they’re getting to you. All is working as planned.
Trump is the “chaos” president, after all. It is hard to focus, hard to organize, hard to cope during times of chaos. It is easy to sew fear, spread resentment, and abandon truth altogether when everyone is running around distracted and confused. Tuning out the chaos is often the only coping mechanism that seems possible. Unfortunately, that means letting the chaos win.
If you’re a straight, white male then this chaos may be working to your advantage, assuming that you don’t give a rip for the rights of minorities and women (and, considering that white males voted overwhelmingly for Trump, the answer is pretty clear). But for everyone else, these are pretty terrifying times.
Trump, who actually claimed that he’d be great for the gays, has decidedly not been great for the gays. From his cabinet members to the extremist judges he’s been nominating, Trump has managed to assemble an anti-LGBTQ dream team.
And the MVP of this team is clearly Mike Pence. From the moment Trump announced his VP pick, people who’d been deluding themselves into thinking that Trump would be, or could be, a friend to LGBTQ people should have woken up. Pence has a long history of working against equality for LGBTQ people. He opposes marriage equality and discrimination protections. He believes in harmful reparative therapy and, in fact, while he was Indiana governor, sought to use HIV/AIDS prevention money for gay “cure” therapy instead. This attitude, coupled with an antiscience rejection of needle exchanges and a slash and burn approach to health funding led to an HIV outbreak in Indiana.
Anyway, Pence’s horrible awfulness is well documented. You can Google it.
The new layer of this shit sandwich is that Trump apparently thinks Pence’s hatred of LGBTQ people is totally hilarious.
In Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece titled “The Danger of President Pence,” there’s a description of a meeting, attended by both Trump and Pence, where LGBTQ rights comes up. According to the article, Trump took the opportunity to try his hand at stand-up comedy material. “Don’t ask that guy,” Trump joked, pointing at Pence, “he wants to hang them all!”
Ha. Ha. Ha. Get it? Because Pence hates gays so much he would literally like to murder them like they do in countries with the Sharia law Pence pretends to have nightmares about except he basically wants the same kind of rule in the U.S., only with white Christian dominion? So funny. What a laff riot. I cannot wait to tell this joke at the dinner table and explain to my son why the vice president thinks his moms should be killed and how the president thinks that’s funny.
Now, you might say, it’s not like Pence literally wants to lynch LGBTQ people. So no harm, no foul, right? Wrong. The fact that the President of the United States cares so little for the LGBTQ people of this country that the premise of our summary execution is fodder for a joke is beyond alarming. What this signals is that the anti-LGBTQ policies that Pence wants to see enacted will face no resistance from Trump. Granted, they never did. Trump will rubber stamp any and all moves to demean and dehumanize LGBTQ people.
As George Takei put it, “Not sure what’s more disturbing, that Donald would joke about such a thing or that he would pick a man with these views as his number 2.”
More disturbing still, is that millions of Americans voted for this hateful shit show. And nobody is going to get out of this mess squeaky clean.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.