Happy National Coming Out Day Without A Gross Bigot In The White House!
Today is National Coming Out Day, and President Joe Biden is a longtime supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. It's not a surprise that he'd release a kind, empathetic statement, but it's still appreciated.
BIDEN: Today, we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self.
Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you've come out.
What a difference a few months can make! Donald Trump's anti-gay sock puppet Mike Pence is no longer in the administration, and the GOP has more or less “conceded defeat" on marriage equality. Yes, Republicans were at war on love. That's the kind of people we're dealing with here. But not everything's swell. Republicans are still targeting the LGBTQ+ community and have gone so far as to claim their very existence is divisive.
Schools in multiple states, when not banning "critical race theory" and facial coverings, are now banning pride flags or any LGBTQ+ symbol they fear is offensive to bigots. A Utah school district, which also banned Black Lives Matter flags, claims it just wants to remain “neutral" on the apparently controversial notion that LGBTQ+ and/or Black people matter as individuals. In Newberg, Oregon, where (now former) school employees show up in blackface, school board member Brian Shannon said, "We don't pay our teachers to push their political views on our students. That's not their place."
Bigots want to stuff queerness back in the closet. This isn't progress, and what's impressive about Biden's statement today is that he calls out this crap.
BIDEN: Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 is already the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history. Republican-dominated state legislatures had passed an unprecedented 16 hate bills by this May. It's also the same old story as with vote suppression laws and the Texas abortion ban: Republicans can act at the state level with a bare majority while Senate Democrats are seemingly helpless to respond at the federal level because two of their members have a crush on the filibuster.
Biden called for passing the Equality Act, which the House sent to the Senate in February. Even without the filibuster, the Equality Act is unlikely to become law because Senator Joe Manchin isn't so sure “equality" applies to transgender Americans. Kyrsten Sinema, who's the first openly bisexual senator, hasn't mentioned the Equality Act since June. She was more visibly upset when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a vote on her bipartisan infrastructure bill. She also hasn't released a statement yet acknowledging National Coming Out Day, but maybe that term has a more uncomfortable meaning for her given recent events.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that young queer kids used to do the Wonder Woman spin when they were… https://t.co/wwTrFUmFpE— Lynda Carter 🎃 (@Lynda Carter 🎃) 1633963357.0
Years ago, the late comedian Norm Macdonald claimed not to understand the fuss over gay “pride" because it wasn't “an achievement." However, this perhaps willfully ignores how difficult and brave it still is to come out as LGBTQ+ in a society that actively discriminates against you. When Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin came out in college, she said she feared having to choose between a career in public service or living openly as herself. She's only 59, and that wasn't so long ago.
Freedoms recently gained are easily lost. Republicans will never stop trying, so we should never stop fighting.
BIDEN: To LGBTQ+ people across the country, and especially those who are contemplating coming out: know that you are loved for who you are, you are admired for your courage, and you will have a community — and a nation — to welcome you.
Biden's expressing more than just homilies when he supports the LGBTQ+ community. He's making it easier for all Americans to exist.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."