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Now That Trump Has Won We Must Reassure LGBT Youth That Our Movement Is Resilient and We Are Not Alone

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Responding to the Impending Trump-Induced LGBT Health Crisis

The prospect of a Trump presidency has aptly been described as a “mental health crisis” waiting to happen.

Even before the campaign began in earnest, LGBT health advocate D.A. Stewart warned that “A Trump presidency would not only be dark and disturbing for LGBT Americans, it could very well mean taking several steps backward in our general health as a community, undoing years of public health strides in inclusive care for underserved populations in our country.”

Not surprisingly, in the days immediately following the election, there was a dramatic spike in calls to organizations and support groups that serve the mental health needs of the LGBT community.

The Trevor Project and TransLifeLine, organizations that provide suicide hot lines for LGBT youth and the Trans community, respectively, reported a record number of calls from people concerned about the election results. Similarly, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, an organization founded in 2005, logged an unprecedented number of calls from LGBT individuals coping with feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and a sense of betrayal.

Screen_Shot_2016-11-27_at_12.36.55_PM.jpg“We started getting increased call volume at about 10 p.m. on election night, and it hasn’t slowed down at all,” Gretta Martela, director of Trans Line told Mother Jones on Nov. 11, and added: “In fact, it’s on the rise still.”

Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director of the Trevor Project, said queer youth who contacted his hotline are “telling us that they’re feeling anxious and scared…They talk about things that came up during the election campaign. So a fear that perhaps gay marriage will be reversed. Or that conversion therapy will be promoted. Or that their insurance might be taken away.”

The Trevor Project is currently training many more volunteers to help field the increasing volume of calls, Mendelsohn said.

The Crisis Text Line, a support network that people in distress can contact for help via text message, also reported a record number of messages.  The Crisis Text Line said in a press release that “The words ‘election’ and ‘scared’ are the top two things being mentioned” and “the most common association with ‘scared’ was ‘LGBTQ.’ ”

The increase in calls to these groups could have been predicted. We have long known that LGBT youth are at significantly greater risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors than heterosexual youth. Gay and lesbian adults also report a history of more suicidal ideation and attempts than their heterosexual counterparts. Transgender people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are also at greater risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts.

In addition to the general risk factors for suicide, such as depression and substance abuse, LGBT people also face additional stressors, such as discrimination and hate speech, as well as bullying and spiritual terrorism, that put us at an increased risk for suicidal behavior.

Indeed, a 2002 study by psychologists Bill Jesdale and Sally Zierler found a direct correlation between LGBT rights and the rate of suicide in adolescents. The study discovered that states that had enacted laws protecting LGBT citizens experienced a statistically significant decrease in their adolescent suicide rates. The study offered hope that by creating a more accepting climate for LGBT people, the rate of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among this population could be decreased.

A corollary of the Jesdale-Zierler findings is also likely true. When the rights of LGBT people are under attack, then suicidal thoughts and behaviors will occur at an increased frequency.

Hence, we must be especially vigilant when our rights are assaulted by politicians and hateful religious figures. Lives are literally at stake.

During this holiday period, when people in general are particularly subject to depression, we especially need to  reassure LGBT youth that our movement is a resilient one.

We have experienced setbacks before. In 1986, for example, the United States Supreme Court delivered a devastating blow when, in a 5-4 ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick, it upheld laws that criminalized homosexual activity even in private.

In response, the gay rights legal movement turned its attention to state courts, and over the next fifteen years achieved a string of important victories as state courts either struck down sodomy laws or indicated that they could not be enforced against consenting adults whose conduct was private and non-commercial.

Although there were losses in the state courts, many of the lawsuits ended in victory for the LGBT plaintiffs who challenged the laws, and a few states during the 1990s legislatively repealed them, so that by 2003, when the issue again reached the Supreme Court, barely a dozen states retained actively enforceable sodomy laws on their statute books, and in only four states were those laws solely targeted at same-sex conduct.

In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court summarily reversed Bowers v. Hardwick in an expansive ruling that has been pivotal to the legal and social progress that we have made since.Â

Similarly, in our epic quest for marriage equality, there were many defeats in court and at the ballot box before the tide turned in our favor, first in a few state courts, then in public opinion and in more state and federal courts and, finally, in the Supreme Court itself.

Even during the long nightmare of the George W. Bush administration, when we were scapegoated and our rights cynically used as a wedge issue to motivate the religious right to vote Republican, we not only persevered but made significant advances.

The specter of a Trump-Pence administration has no doubt shadowed our Thanksgiving celebrations, but we must not allow the disappointing election to cause us to forget the many successes we have achieved and the many blessings for which we should be grateful.

Screen_Shot_2016-11-27_at_12.30.52_PM.jpgWe need to emphasize that the 2016 election was not a referendum on LGBT issues and that Trump and Pence received no mandate to erode LGBT rights.

Moreover, we must remember that we are now better prepared than ever to resist the attacks on our rights that will come from a Trump-Pence administration stocked with homophobic politicians.

The election of Trump has encouraged and emboldened bigots and haters throughout the country, but we need to remember that we have unprecedented levels of support. We are not alone in our fight for equal rights and dignity.

We must keep our faith in Dr. Martin Luther King’s maxim that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Rather than surrender to despair, we must redouble our commitment to action.

Part of that commitment to action must be an increased vigilance in protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, including LGBT youth.

We must increase our contributions to such organizations as the Trevor Project, the TransLifeLine, and the Ali Forney Center, as well as to our advocacy organizations such as the NGLTF, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD, and many others.

We must also remind young people that “It Gets Better.”

The “It Gets Better Project” grew out of a mental health crisis in 2010, when the nation was rocked by a series of well-publicized bullying scandals and by the suicides of a number of LGBT teens.

Alarmed by the suicide of Billy Lucas, a Greensburg, Indiana teenager who had been mercilessly bullied, Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller founded the project as a channel on YouTube that features videos of LGBT adults and allies reassuring young people that, however awful their predicament might seem at the time, “it gets better.”

“I realized,” Savage told a New York Times reporter, “that with things like YouTube and social media, we can talk directly to these kids. We can make an end run around the schools that don’t protect them, from parents who want to keep gay kids isolated and churches that tell them that they are sinful or disordered.”

The first video in the series featured Savage and Miller, who were both bullied in high school, explaining how fulfilling life became after they left high school, met each other, and began their family.

Soon after its launch, the series went viral on the Internet and grew to include tens of thousands of videos.

In the video below, made in October 2010 to benefit the Trevor Project, Broadway stars reassure young people in an original song written by Jay Kuo & Blair Shepard.

Perhaps the most powerful “It Gets Better” musical video is the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’s rendition of Stephen Schwartz’s “Testimony.”

Schwartz’s 2012 composition features the voices of individuals in pain, but his work envisions triumph as suffering individuals come to find solace in communion with others. It acknowledges the heartbreaking anguish many gay people feel in a homophobic society, but it also joyfully celebrates the rewards of self-acceptance and the happiness that can be found by living life honestly.

If you just “hang in” and “hang on” and accept yourself, the song advises, you can experience “the joy of living with authenticity.”

Schwartz, who has written such hit musicals as Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972), and Wicked (2003), collaborated with Savage as he set to music the heartfelt testimony of contributors to the “It Gets Better” project. The result is an extraordinarily moving work that is beautifully performed by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

If you’re an LGBTQ person and need someone to talk to, these groups are ready to help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-237-8255 (TALK)

Crisis Text Line: Text “GO” to 741741

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

GLBT National Youth Talk: 1-800-246-7743

Â

Image by Ted Eytan via Flickr and a CC licenseÂ

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Trump Sarcastically Prayed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Health – Before Asking ‘How Much Longer’ She Had: New Book

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Donald Trump has bragged about how installing Supreme Court justices was one of the greatest things a President can do. By the end of his one term he had placed three far right wing jurists on the nation’s highest court.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health was failing, Trump apparently was looking forward to nominating yet another justice to the bench.

The Washington Post, citing New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new book, says Trump derisively prayed for the 87-year old liberal icon.

READ MORE: ‘We Have Incredible Things’: Trump Surprised NYT Reporter Last Year by Boasting He Kept White House Documents

“When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was dying in 2020, the book says, Trump would sarcastically raise his hands to the sky in prayer and say: ‘Please God. Please watch over her. Every life is precious,’ before asking an aide: ‘How much longer do you think she has?'”

Justice Ginsburg was far from the only woman Trump spoke ill of.

The Post reports “Trump was often crass and profane about world leaders and others in his orbit. He referred to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel as ‘that b—-,’ according to the book.”

READ MORE: Critics Blast Top US Conservative Think Tank President for Applauding Italy’s Election of ‘Neo-Fascist’ Prime Minister

When Trump met British Prime Minister Theresa May, he brought up the issue of abortion.

“Some people are pro-life, some people are pro-choice,” Trump said, according to Haberman’s book. “Imagine if some animals with tattoos raped your daughter and she got pregnant?” Trump reportedly asked.

Haberman’s book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” is 607 pages long and chronicles Trump’s time in the White House and in New York, going back as far as the 1980’s.

Among many other topics it also reveals Trump’s rarely discussed homophobia and transphobia. The Post says Haberman “reports [Trump] frequently made comments that were homophobic, particularly toward gay men, and washed his hands immediately after meeting someone who had AIDS.”

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Trump Uses Crude Anti-LGBTQ Language – Aides Stunned by Obsession With Staffers’ Sexuality: New Book

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Donald Trump often asked oddly personal questions about staffers’ sexuality and made homophobic remarks about those he perceived might be gay, according to a new book.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s forthcoming book, “The Decider,” reveals that Trump’s obsession with appearing to be masculine drives his startling behavior, such as a meeting early in his administration with vice president Mike Pence and campaign aide Jason Miller, whom he declared certainly “likes the ladies,” according to excerpts published by The Daily Beast.

“You know how sometimes someone turns out to be gay later and you knew?” Trump said, according to the book. “This guy, he isn’t even like one percent gay.”

Trump was preoccupied with speculation about who in his orbit might be gay, and often mocked Trump Organization executive Alan Marcus as “queer” and “bragged that he paid the executive less,” Haberman reported, and former employees said he would show off photos of women with whom he claimed to have know intimately.

“They also recalled Trump mocking gay men, or men who were seen as weak, with the words ‘queer’ or ‘f*ggot,’” Haberman wrote.

Haberman described one episode from a week before the second presidential debate in 2016, when then-adviser Reince Priebus asked Trump a hypothetical question from the point of view of a female transgender student about using the girls’ restroom — prompting a response that prompted stunned silence.

“C*cked or dec*cked?” Trump asked.

An unspecified individual broke the awkward silence by suggesting “dec*cked,” and Trump responded by making a chopping gesture.

“With c*ck or without c*ck?” he said, according to Haberman.

An adviser asked what difference that made, and Trump suggested that detail would determine how he answered the question.

“What if a girl was in the bathroom and someone came in, lifted up a skirt, and a schlong was hanging out?” Trump said, according to the book.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump is ‘quiet quitting’ special master case after making ‘terrible blunder’: legal expert

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Watch: Cruz Only ‘No’ Vote After Railing Against Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Another Coup

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The Senate Rules Committee voted 14-1 to advance the Electoral Count Act, legislation designed to prevent another coup like the one led by defeated President Donald Trump, and Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, on January 6, 2021. Every Democrat and every Republican except the junior GOP Senator from Texas voted for the legislation.

The bill is even supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But according to Sen. Cruz, who once bragged he was “leading the charge” to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, the bill is “all about” Donald Trump.

READ MORE: Trump Mocked for ‘Sidelining’ His New $3 Million Attorney: ‘Must Have Given Him Actual Legal Advice’

With so many stories published about the GOP’s efforts to keep Trump in the White House despite Joe Biden winning both the popular vote and the Electoral College by large margins, some may have missed The Washington Post‘s reporting back in March the shows “just how deeply” Sen. Cruz “was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power.”

“As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles,” the Post notes.

“Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyer John Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.”

On Tuesday Cruz railed against the Electoral Count Act, which would make the January 6 attempt to overturn the election at least more difficult, as his fellow Republicans seemed to ignore his outburst.

READ MORE: Viral Video Captures Ted Cruz Fist-Bumping Republicans After Blocking Bill to Help Vets Suffering from Toxic Burn Pits

“This bill is all about Donald J. Trump,” Cruz declared, not realizing that he was indicting the former president by saying so. “And nobody in our lifetimes has driven Democrats in this body more out of their mind than President Trump.”

“This bill is a bad bill, this bill is bad law,” Cruz complained. “It’s bad policy and it’s bad for democracy,” he added, despite every other Republican on the committee voting for it and several Republicans voting for the House version.

What he did not say is that no Democrat has ever conspired to overturn an election and execute a coup.

Senator Angus King (I-ME) after Cruz’s rant, reminded the committee the bill does not “come out of the blue,” saying it is “a modification of a 150-year old law.”

“It’s not a new effort of Congress to intrude into the electoral process,” he said, taking a gentle swipe at Cruz.

“I watched this,” NPR’s Peter Sagal said of Cruz’s remarks, “and what’s remarkable is to the extent to which all the other Senators (with the exception of a mild correction from Sen King) simply ignore him.”

READ MORE: Ted Cruz Says He’s Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage Protection Bill for ‘Religious Liberty’ Reasons

He went on to note the bill “merely intended to clarify” the existing law, “which virtually everyone … has agreed is archaic and confusing.”

Despite all his bravado, the bill did advance out of committee almost unanimously, with the exception of Cruz’s lone no vote.

Watch below or at this link.

 

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