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.
Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, And Then I Danced is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller.