By Mark McNease
“By erasing LGBTQ Americans from the 2020 U.S. Census, the Trump Administration is adding a disgusting entry to a long list of tactics they’ve adopted to legally deny services and legitimacy to hard-working LGBTQ Americans.
“The Trump Administration is trying hard to erase the LGBTQ community from the fabric of America, but visibility has always been one of the LGBTQ community’s greatest strengths.”
There’s nothing to get me out of my column-writing slump like learning that the Trump administration, staffed as it is with people for whom my existence is an inconvenient truth, is trying to conveniently erase me.
We had an early glimpse of this when, just hours after the inauguration, the White House page for LGBT Americans was suddenly gone. Granted, they had also removed the pages for Hispanic Americans and those pesky disabled people.
They said it was for routine maintenance and common with a change of administrations when the incoming takes over for the outoing, but I remarked to a friend that this particular page would not be back and I was right.
Then last week we discovered that LGBTQ seniors and elders will be left out of the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. The Department of Health and Human Services uses this survey to decide how to allocate federal funding to groups that work with the elderly. We had fought for years to be included and finally were, but no more. The unique challenges and obstacles faced by LGBTQ elderly are once again of no consequence to our federal government.
I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the National LGBT Elder Housing Summit at the White House in 2015. Do you suppose there will be a another one, possibly hosted by Mike “Prayer Warrior” Pence, or perhaps Betsy “Show Me The Voucher Money” DeVos? If they can’t find any brown, black or female faces for the group photo we’d be happy to provide them.
I’m usually humorous in these columns and never intentionally unkind, but these are perilous times, with a particular brand of Christian jihadist cleverly placed in positions of power where they can do much harm, and do it with a smile while calling us all “folks” and professing to believe in our basic humanity. For them it has always been a lesser humanity, the sort you grudgingly afford inferior beings you secretly detest.
But here’s the thing: we are not erased so easily. For many younger LGBTQ people the very idea of a closet is quaint, something gay Grampa or their fun lesbian aunt had to deal with. Many of them were never in the closet – never invisible to begin with – and the idea of being disappeared by simply being left out of surveys and forms and government websites is laughable. And I would laugh, if the damage this can do was not so great, if the suffering it can bring was not so tangible.
The kids will be all right, they always are, but those of us who remember the closet as something we had to come out of at great cost know the dangers. Our olders and elders and seniors, our most vulnerable and justifiably frightened are aware, however irrational it may seem in 2017, how easily we can be pushed backward if we do not stand now with our feet firmly planted.
Who thought at this point we would have to once again take up arms and protest signs? That we would have to confront the ugliness that had been so carefully hidden from view? That we would have to tell them, the men and women with erasers in their hands, that we are still here, still queer, and if they’re not used to it by now there’s nothing we can do to help them.
My patience has run out for apologists, the “give him a chance” crowd. A chance is what a mongoose gives a snake one time only. We saw this coming. We made no deal with any devil. We still watch through the night, even as the assaults are not yet frontal. We know who the enemy is. And we will not be erased.
Mark McNease is the author of the bestselling Kyle Callahan Mysteries, as well as the co-editor and publisher of the anthology Outer Voices Inner Lives (Lambda Literary Award finalist). He’s the editor and publisher of lgbtSr.com, “where age is embraced and life is celebrated,” as well as the co-host of The Twist Podcast and the co-creator of the Emmy and Telly winning children’s program Into the Outdoors.