Donald Trump can’t be homophobic as he had gay friends in the 1980s, insists former cabinet member

Josh Milton
·4-min read

Richard Grenell, the first openly gay US cabinet member and unwavering Donald Trump ally, said the Republican president simply can’t be homophobic because he… had gay friends in the 1980s.

Oh, boy.

With election day looming, Trump’s allies have sought to shore up support by revising history itself – four years of rescinded LGBT+ rights and protections by administration officials.

Indeed, during a “Trump Pride” function Saturday evening (October 31) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Republican National Committee adviser dubbed Trump the “first pro-gay president”, Business Insider reported.

But instead of citing, you know, pro-LGBT+ legislation or anything concrete as evidence of this, Grenell instead opted to say that Trump has been “comfortable with gay men since the ’80s.”

“In about the 2000s, we began to have a whole bunch of support,” Grenell described, “people would come up to me, and they would give me private support.

“And I started to ask people to move from private support to public support.

“That took a little more time, several years. And then suddenly, Donald Trump came on the scene. And he blew the doors off it.

“Because here’s a man that, from the ’80s, has been totally comfortable with gay men around him.”

Grenell, speaking to around 60 LGBT+ Trump supporters at the rally, stressed that “we have a cancel culture run wild by – guess who? – the gay left.

“They’re the first ones to scream and cancel. Yesterday’s champions of diversity are today’s intolerance.”

Speaking of intolerance, Mike Pence. Grenell failed to mention at the rally the vice president’s anti-LGBT+ track record – he once argued that LGBT+ discrimination should be legal.

Majority of Americans support trans rights. Donald Trump continues to make them a political target.

Queer voters have long voted overwhelmingly Democratic, with polls showing that Trump’s years of attacking trans rights across a slew of federal apartments haven’t exactly swayed the community as a whole to vote Republican.

So, let’s briefly look at what Trump has done for the LGBT+ community.

Across the last four years, a gap has yawned between Trump and more moderate or liberal Republicans, who, pollsters say, at least support some LGBT+ rights and protections.

The Trump administration has overseen rocketing rates of anti-LGBT+ hate crimes and mass rollbacks of protections, all the while peddling vastly symbolic schemes, such as pledges to end HIV transmission or the criminalisation of homosexuality.

These pledges have either been rife with problems, or total inaction.

Moreover, Trump and other party leaders have sought to drive a wedge between the LGB and T in a slew of attacks against trans people’s civil rights across several branches of the federal department.

A pointless Department of Defence ban on trans troops, a rollback of healthcare protections by the Department of Health and Human Services, a proposal to allow homeless shelters to deny trans people access to single-sex shelters by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and efforts by the Education Department to both block trans students from using the bathroom which aligns with their gender, but also banning trans girls from joining female track teams in Connecticut high schools.

Despite this onslaught that has reduced one of the country’s most vulnerable and marginalised demographics to a political target, these policies are scarcely in the public’s interest.

Supporters hold up an LGBT+ Pride flag for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (George Frey/Getty Images
Supporters hold up an LGBT+ Pride flag for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (George Frey/Getty Images

Indeed, a majority of Americans – 62 per cent – have become more supportive of trans rights in recent years, according to a 2019 survey. Even among one of the Republican’s most relied-upon voting bloc, white evangelicals, a slim majority support trans rights.

Moreover, during many of this year’s victories in the arena of LGBT+ rights as well as years’ worth of Pride months, Trump has remained silent or vastly indifferent.

And when the president has been pressed about certain LGBT+ issues, such as the federal blood ban on queer men as well as his own campaign for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality, he has been utterly clueless.

All have come to be expected from the Trump administration, activists say. Trump officials, as well as his loyal allies, at the times, use the president’s apparent support for LGBT+ rights a balm of sorts to soothe rank-and-file Republican lawmakers and voters.

Nevertheless, the Republican Party announced that it would be leaving its 2016 party platform unchanged, meaning that the GOP will continue to officially support the reversal of marriage equality.