Donald Trump, according to the Human Rights Campaign, is ‘the worst president on LGBTQ issues ever’. Forget about Dwight Eisenhower, whose executive order preventing those guilty of ‘sexual perversion’ from holding government jobs led to the firing of an estimated 10,000 people, or Ronald Reagan, who waited years to even utter the name of the disease which was killing thousands of gay men during his presidential term. The President who has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and appointed America’s first openly gay cabinet member is, according to America’s leading gay rights organization, the Bull Connor of homophobia.
To prove its case, HRC has compiled a constantly-updated ‘Timeline of Hate’ to memorialize Trump’s ‘dangerous and discriminatory agenda’. It has yet to update one of the very first entries, however, concerning Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The jurist’s past opposition to ‘crucial medical treatment for a transgender person’, HRC declared in January 2017, led it to take the unprecedented step of opposing a Supreme Court nomination. Yet in June, Gorsuch wrote one of the most comprehensive pro-LGBT rights decisions in court history when he ruled that the workplace discrimination protections within the 1964 Civil Rights Act encompass gay and transgender people.
Far be it from Cockburn to impugn the esteemed judgment of America’s purportedly premier LGBTQ pressure group, but we come to a rather different conclusion regarding the president’s queer bona fides. In the same way Toni Morrison deployed Bill Clinton’s being ‘born poor’ and the product of a ‘single-parent household’ to make her case that he was ‘our first black president’, Donald Trump’s bitchiness, narcissism, and efforts to avoid STDs throughout a life fecund with sexual conquest amounted to a ‘personal Vietnam’ makes him our first gay one. That hair! That mouth! That stubborn refusal to wrap a simple protective covering over an orifice to safeguard the lives of himself and others!
The man is pure camp. He’s not a dictator. He’s a vamping drag queen, spitting venom and doing his best impersonation of a sub-tropical caudillo.
Consider how few people of whom it can be said Donald Trump genuinely admires. Well, Elton John is one of them. Trump frequently plays ‘Tiny Dancer’ to warm up his crowds, belittles North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as ‘Rocket Man’, and — perhaps the greatest form of Trumpian respect — repeatedly boasts that his campaign rallies break the attendance records of John’s concerts. ‘If two people dig each other, they dig each other,’ Trump wrote on the occasion of John’s entrance into a civil partnership with David Furnish 15 years ago. ‘Good luck, Elton. Good luck, David. Have a great life.’ During the 2016 election, Trump played John’s music so loudly on his campaign plane that no one could hear themselves think.
The sequin-besuited Englishman does not even qualify as the gayest of Trump’s pop idols. No politician who blasts songs by the Village People — the quintessence of 1970s gay male kitsch — at his rallies can seriously be called homophobic. And yet reporters covering the President’s re-election effort stand flabbergasted whenever they hear the disco beats of that timeless appreciation of the male physique, ‘Macho Man’, over the loudspeakers. Earlier this year, a group of Trump backers took to the streets of Wisconsin to protest coronavirus lockdowns, singing ‘M-A-G-A’ to the tune of ‘Y-M-C-A’. If there exists a better example of gay progress and mainstream acceptance than a Republican president’s supporters performing a song and dance routine based upon an ode to homosexual cruising, Cockburn has yet to see it.