LGBT Trump Supporters Dismayed Over Pride Marches Becoming 'Resist' Events
In more than 50 marches across the states, LGBT people and their allies gathered to stand in solidarity against the Trump administration over the weekend.
In Washington, D.C., people gathered in droves. Troy King, a 47-year-old gay man from Atlanta, marched to continue to pressure politicians to stand up for his community's rights.
"I'm not proud; I'm just gay," he said.
Corey Williams, a lesbian woman from D.C., smiled on the sidelines with her dog, Boogie. She said she was happy to see Pride returning to its roots in protest.
But the month of June, which is celebrated as gay pride month, can be fraught for one subset of the LGBT community: Trump supporters. That is particularly true this year, as many marches are billed as "resistance" protests against the administration.
'Political' Vs. 'Partisan' Protest
Matthew Craffey, a member of the conservative LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans, lives in Los Angeles, where he leads the local chapter. There, the Pride Parade has morphed into a Resist March to stand against the ideologies of a Trump presidency and how some of the members of the LGBT community fear his potential policies impact their lives.
"I'm not discrediting people who have issues with the Trump administration, but my problem is that the Pride parade has always been political, but it's never been partisan," he said. "So it's a missed opportunity for all of us to have a break from the division and the anger."
Gina Roberts, a transgender woman from Los Angeles who served as a delegate at the 2016 Republican convention, said she was disappointed in the change to the Pride parade.
"There's no way in heck that I would attend LA pride because it's a Resist march," said Roberts. "Instead of celebrating diversity, it's the opposite of what Pride stands for."
But supporters of the Resist movement, like David Stacy, the government affairs director of the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group, said he was frustrated at the thought that this march shouldn't be partisan.
"Pride has always been a protest movement and a Resist movement and a challenge to the status quo," Stacy said.
Other LGBT activists on the left, like GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, agree. She said the plans for over 50 "resistance and equality marches ... symbolizes a community that feels under attack. Pride started as a resistance march back in the '70s. We're going back to our legacy: When we're being targeted, when we're being attacked, we're going to go to the streets and speak out."
So what does that mean for the members of the LGBT community who voted Trump and don't want to resist his administration?
Exit polls from NBC News and elsewhere showed that Trump received 14 percent of the LGBT vote against Hillary Clinton's 78 percent. Compare that with Romney's 22 percent in 2012, McCain's 27 percent in 2008, and George Bush's 23 percent in 2004.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 9 in 10 LGBT voters rated Trump as "cold" on a "feeling thermometer," and 9 percent found him "warm" or "somewhat warm."
But LGBT supporters of the president find this hard to believe. They cite the difficulty of not only coming out as LGBT but also coming out as a Republican.
"The beauty of a secret ballot is no one is going to know who you vote for except you," said Charles Moran, a gay Republican who voted for Trump. He added, "[LGBT] people are shamed into lying that they didn't vote for Donald Trump [when they did]."
Other Trump-supporting members of the LGBT community have echoed Moran's opinions, including Gays for Trump President Peter Boykin, who suspects that Trump got closer to 25 percent of the LGBT vote.
"We exist. ... We're not some little small minority," he said. "I'm pretty damn sure there are more gays who voted for Trump but won't admit it."
Some supporters say they feel they're openly shamed for their political opinions — at times more than they're shamed for their sexual orientation.
"Generally, in 2017, it's a lot easier to be openly gay than to be openly Republican," said Vincent Foster, president of the Miami chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.
'LGBTQ Is Not A One-Lane Highway'
One theme echoed across Trump-supporting members of the LGBT community who spoke with NPR: They define themselves by other identities and values before their sexual orientation. And they don't think the members of their community on the Democratic side feel the same way.
"First of all, one of the distinctions I make about a lot of Republican LGBT members is that we tend to identify ourselves as Americans ... and then we're patriots. And we happen to have this feature where we're gay," Gina Roberts of Los Angeles said. "That's kind of the biggest difference I can see between the two sides."
Roberts said LGBT people voted for Trump for the same reason straight people did: He was their favorite candidate, not in spite of his stances of social issues, but because of them.
But GLAAD's Ellis doesn't think voters can parse out stances of social issues and separate them from any of the other issues. She said no issues can be isolated from the LGBT community.
"If you care about employment, and you could get fired because you're LGBT, it's an employment issue," Ellis said. "At every intersection being LGBTQ is not a one-lane highway."
And many conservative members of the LGBT community have similar lines of thoughts. They just don't see it as a black-and-white issue.
"Being a gay Republican, I have to ask, 'How much I am going to have to sacrifice my equality agenda with backing up my candidate?' And the good thing about Trump is that I didn't have to do that," Moran said. "I realized that he was the type of candidate the Republican Party needs, and his record was quite good."
Moran was referring to Trump's business record with hiring members of the LGBT community when he first bought Mar-a-Lago; Trump was believed to be the first club owner in Palm Beach to admit an openly gay couple, as the New York Times has reported.
Tracking forward, some LGBT voters, like Vincent Foster, weren't positive if that was enough to sway them to his side — until the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando one year ago.
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"In the aftermath of the Orlando radical terrorist events, his words of acceptance to the LGBT community as a candidate, was when I knew I was going to vote for him," Foster said. "We need better vetting, and we need to increase our FBI abilities and resources. Especially to the LGBT community ... we were specifically targeted. We can't afford to let in everyone. If you want to help a refugee, help LGBT homeless youth."
The Pulse shooting shook the entire community. And for a few members, it made them wish the U.S. was more aggressive in the war against terrorism.
"The Orlando Pulse night club killing opened a lot of things," said George Gramer, Colorado's Log Cabin president.
On the anniversary on Monday, Trump tweeted in remembrance of the victims.
We will NEVER FORGET the victims who lost their lives one year ago today in the horrific #PulseNightClub shooting. #OrlandoUnitedDay pic.twitter.com/OFFUVAFBJM— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2017
'A Disservice To This Movement'
Overall, many of these voters say they aren't ignoring their identity in the LGBT community as a trade for conservative values. Rather, they say, they align.
"LGBT people should have a real choice in being able to vote for either party and feel good about it," Craffey of Los Angeles said. "We should each be fighting to make our side better. We're just doing it in different ways and from different perspectives. I think in my opinion, you get a lot more accomplished from engaging than resisting. So I'm going to engage the administration who has been willing to engage with us."
But Craffey doesn't think the other side of politics necessarily agrees with him. He said he feels ostracized by the rest of the LGBT community, and that makes it more difficult to work together on the policies they do agree on.
"I knew I was a Republican before I knew I was gay," Craffey said. But he said he never felt uncomfortable with the Republican Party after coming out as gay. "If we are a community who celebrates diversity, that has to include political diversity as well. I'm fighting as much for my friends on the left ... as I am for the people in my group and myself."
Trump-supporting members of the LGBT community said they're trying to be part of both groups, but the partisanship that has taken over politics and the politicization of their identities has made that rather difficult.
"We have values that promote equality," Moran said. "I believe in traditional family values, but that includes my LGBT family. There is no gay perspective on the environment or education. ... Just because I sleep with a man and have a different family doesn't mean I'm any less of a conservative. And now I have to convince the left that I'm gay. For the community on the left to sit there and not treat us equality and not respect our belief is a disservice to this movement."
What does the community on the left think?
"The president has made a handful of statements saying he's going to be good for LGBT people, but there's been nothing to back that up," Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign said. "I understand people ... saying, 'I'm glad he's not going out and bashing us,' but that's an incredibly low bar to set in 2017. ... If you're continuing to think the president will be good on LGBT rights, you really have your blinders up."
Christianna Silva is an NPR Digital News intern.