Within days of Trump implementing his ban on refugees from certain Muslim majority countries (which, let’s call it what it is, a Muslim ban) he also announced he would keep the protections for federal LGBT employees that Obama implemented. Whether this was on the urging of his daughter and son-in-law, or his own idea (hah!), this is not something to celebrate.
Do not think that Trump gives one fuck about protecting LGBT folks, instead this is clearly part of a strategy where Trump will placate “the LGBT community” (which of course does not include refugees, Muslims, and POC LGBT folks, or really any “T” folks at all) to get the protest power and money of fancy white gays to move away from resisting him and his coup and on to other issues. We can’t let this happen!
Trump is most likely going to use us, LGBT folk, as part of his rationale for his Muslim ban. He is going to say he is doing it on behalf of women and LGBT people. He said this on the campaign trail. The “extreme vetting” that Trump proposes includes asking potential refugees and immigrants how they feel about gay people , implying that people who do not support LGBT rights (or do not support them in the way that we understand them in America), will not be allowed to come to the U.S.. We cannot let people be denied entry in our names.
We have seen a similar thing happen with the pinkwashing of Israel. (Pinkwashing is when an entity uses their gay-friendliness as an excuse for, or a distraction from, other abuses.) Israel has spent at least 90 million dollars to portray itself as gay friendly, while simultaneously violating the human rights of Palestinians, including LGBT Palestinians.
As a queer person of course I don’t love it when someone doesn’t support LGBT rights as I understand them, but I will not allow my queerness to be used to keep other marginalized folks out.
Here is the thing, refugees that come to America come with very little, and if they are homophobic (once again, as we conceptualize it in white American culture) will have very little effect on me, or most of us. (Obviously, like the rest of us, refugees are a very diverse group with a myriad of beliefs and perspectives on LGBT folks).
More Radical Reads: The (Anti) Black A** Roots of America’s Islamophobia
Some of the immigrants and refugees left to die will undoubtedly be LGBT folks, which is another reason that we should fight this Muslim ban harder than white queers have ever fought for anything LGBT specific. But even more importantly, and this is especially directed at my fellow white queers, IT IS NOT ABOUT US. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE ABOUT US FOR US TO CARE. As a “community”, we know how it feels to watch your community members die and for governments not to care. We know how it feels to be persecuted. We know how it feels to look over your shoulder constantly and live in fear. We need to take this knowledge and use it to inform our own empathy.
And we need to fight just as hard for Muslim refugees and immigrants (and POC and other persecuted groups) as we do when our rights and lives are on the chopping block. For true liberation no one can be left behind.
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[Feature Image: Photo of a person wearing a thin black scarf on their head. They are in profile and are holding a cell phone. They are wearing a blue and black scarf around their neck. Source: Artform Canada]