What I found when I set out looking for ‘Trump’s Gays’

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The last four years of Donald Trump have been rough, but none more so than 2020. The pandemic, the mind-numbing drone of election-year rhetoric, and the strengthening of the conservative hold on the Supreme Court were bad.

Not done. Raging fires in the West, an unrelenting barrage of hurricanes and tropical storms in the East, and perhaps the surest sign of an impending apocalypse, alarming numbers of gays voting for Donald Trump.

A particularly unflattering exit poll from the New York Times showed 28% of those identifying as LGBT voted for Trump. To say that number shook me to my core like an icy finger touching the butthole of my heart in the middle of a hot Georgia night would be entirely accurate.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that some queer people historically work against their own self-interest and the interest of the community at large. It’s the twisted way that the heteronormative patriarchy weaponize queer folk against each other.

Closeted queers act as weapons against the community so much, we sometimes cast the most bigoted straight people as closeted queers because it’s so often true. For those of us who spent any time in the metaphorical closet, it’s easy to empathize with those who were not able to escape it — even while rebuking and dismantling the harm they attempt to unleash on us.

The Times exit poll has been disputed, so those numbers may not be a true reflection of how LGBT people voted. It may be months before more accurate numbers emerge, but in the meantime, let’s live in a world where one in three queer people voted for Donald Trump, because it is scarier than any horror movie out right now.

I do not actually know any queer people who voted for Trump or were ardent and vocal Trump supporters. Sure, I know they exist. I have a Libertarian brother who loves to send me articles about them. In the months leading up to the election, the number of these articles was alarming but still this group remained outliers to the main tribe in my mind, a drop in the bucket of righteousness and duty that is the modem queer voter.

Sure, the Democratic Party is not perfect — what entity riddled with straights is? And sure, the Democrats were probably only slightly less homophobic than the Republicans only decades ago. Still, that a significant number of queer people would break rank and vote for Trump, not just vote Republican but for Trump specifically, gave me the need to understand their mindset better.

I posted to a few Facebook groups that I was looking to talk to queer Trump supporters. I was met with huge pushback from queers who do not support Trump. The prevailing opinion from left-leaning LGBTQ folks was that Trump-supporting gays were traitors and did not deserve any attention or attempts to understand them. Further, my intelligence was called into question for not knowing what these people already “knew”: Queer Trump voters are either rich or stupid.

It was pretty enlightening and a bit frightening how folks came for me personally for even asking the question. I voted for Biden and am pretty vocally progressive in my politics, but boy, none of that mattered in the moment.

Then came the direct messages, but these were from Trump supporters willing to talk but not willing to comment publicly on my posts. I suppose that could be seen as cowardice, but based on the attacks I got for asking about gay Trump supporters, I wouldn’t want the heat that comes with actually supporting Trump.

I was able to engage with a few queer Trump supporters, and their motivations were a mix of fiscal conservatism, desire for less government, distrust of the Democrats and a deep skepticism about the media. Some don’t like what he says but like what he does for the economy. There was talk of the 300 or so additional dollars one person got in their tax return in the last few years. $300? I know queens that spend more than that on poppers in a year.

I wish I could say I found a deeper understanding of why gays would vote for Trump after this, but instead I walked away more firm in my belief that my vote in the interest of the community is more important than ever.

And by ever, I mean the runoff in January, when we as queers and Georgians have a chance to flip the Senate blue.

Ian Aber is a comedian, podcaster, columnist and show runner in Atlanta. Visit comedyian.com.

This column ran in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue here:

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