Columns, Opinion

American Protest: Gay jokes are not funny, Mr. President

When I logged into Twitter this week and saw an endless stream of tweets in regards to our president, I simply thought, “What did he do now?”

It’s a sad reality, but I am growing accustomed to our president’s ridiculous comments and outbursts that garner national attention. But after seeing what President Donald Trump did to anger the public this time, I was left absolutely speechless, and quite frankly, disturbed.

Our president, the leader of the free world, the commander in chief, the voice of America, joked last week about hanging gay people. It was during a meeting with a legal scholar that the conversation turned towards LGBT rights, and President Trump motioned toward Vice President Mike Pence and said, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”

From what I can tell, Trump was making fun of Pence’s outdated conservative ideals on gay people, but nonetheless, the comments were extremely inappropriate and unpresidential.

Can you imagine the backlash and shock that would have followed this “joke” if it had come from previous presidents, such as President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush? The standards during their presidencies were much higher, and this kind of immaturity would just not have been tolerated. Unfortunately, people are so used to Trump’s lack of diplomacy and professionalism, this was no big surprise.

This should not be the level of maturity we hold our president to. Trump needs to be held accountable for what he says, and I will not stand by and let him belittle an entire group of people who have dealt with decades of oppression, violence and hatred. Hanging gay people is no joke, considering the amount of LGBT people in America who face the threat of danger everywhere they go. Does Trump understand how dangerous it is to be a transgender woman of color in this country?

The implications of this joke show that Trump does not have respect for the LGBT community, he does not think about the impacts of his words and he does not understand the real threat LGBT people face. Even worse, he thinks his vice president’s backward views are just a joke.

The way Pence sees gay people is not something that makes me chuckle. I certainly do not get the urge to make a joke out of it.

Pence once said gay couples “signaled societal collapse,” he opposed the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” he opposed a law that prohibited discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace and he rejected Obama administration guidance on transgender students being allowed to use the bathroom they saw fit to their gender identity. He has even supported gay conversion therapy that encouraged electrocution methods.

Clearly, this is a man who vehemently opposes gay people and gay rights. Why is this something to make a joke out of? Having a man with these viewpoints in a significant position of power is terrifying enough — we do not need a president who thinks it is all some laughing matter.

While on the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly mentioned how he would be an advocate for the LGBT community. Well, our amazing advocate wants to joke about hanging gay people, so that’s encouraging for the gay rights movement. Additionally, he has yet to do anything beneficial for the LGBT community, so I am just a little confused on when this promised advocacy will come into play.

I know we cannot take everything Trump says seriously, because at this point, how could we? He does not think when he speaks, and half the stuff he says is boastful and ego motivated. Jokes like this one though, have to be criticized and made unacceptable. If not, he harms an entire group of people with his ignorance and normalizes the hatred and bigotry that comes with Pence.

I have yelled at high school boys for making jokes about gay people, and it is upsetting to me that I have to say the same to our president. Let’s force Trump to move beyond the humor of a prepubescent boy and focus on making the LGBT community a safer place in America.

2 Comments

  1. I read the White House denied Trump ever made that statement. So, if you follow fake news, guess you’re going to be upset.

  2. You said a mouthful with “The standards during {previous} presidencies were much higher” and this is the heart of the problem. Trump is a narcissistic child, but it’s a flawed system that put him in our country’s most powerful position and said nothing when he mocked a disabled reporter, admitted multiple instances of sexual harassment, threatened to shoot people on the street, etc, etc. We are living in one of the most dangerous periods of our country’s history, and it will take words like yours to combat injustice. Thanks for not letting this one slide like so many other journalists.