Trump Is Scared of LGBT Activists and Mike Pence Just Proved It

Mike Pence is just as full of bullshit as every other person who runs interference with the press while Donald Trump skulks around the White House in his bathrobe. Yesterday he continued his campaign of national gaslighting by visiting with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos where he literally said these words out loud with a straight face: “I think the generosity of [Donald Trump’s] spirit, recognizing that in the patriot’s heart, there’s no room for prejudice, is part of who this president is.” (No, I’m serious; he really said that.) This particular praise was gushed in response to Stephanopoulos’ expressed surprise that Trump hasn’t gutted President Obama’s 2014 executive order that prohibits discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors.

When Trump’s probably forthcoming “religious freedom” executive order leaked last week, LGBTQ people were rightfully appalled, if not necessarily surprised. During his campaign, Trump seemed mostly disinterested in wading into the LGBTQ rights conversation, but during his presidency he’s seemed disinterested in actually reading the executive orders placed in front of his face, all of which are being written by one of the most anti-LGBTQ administrations in modern history.

Make no mistake: Trump’s decision to keep Obama’s executive order in place and his decision to not push through his own sweeping religious freedom order last week have nothing to do with his “generosity of spirit” or “patriot’s heart.” Nearly every time Trump has mentioned LGBT people, he has done so in an attempt to paint himself as a benevolent leader while driving a wedge between gay people and the people of color he’s persecuting.

Remember this tweet? It’s one of the few times he mentioned us during his campaign.

It’s a classic propaganda technique: You’re in danger from people who aren’t like you. I’m the only one who can protect you. Fear them. Worship me.

Mike Pence is just mimicking that strategy. “I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration,” Pence told Stephanopoulos. “He was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him.”

It’s much more likely that Trump and the Republican Party have been gobsmacked by the activism that has sprung up in the last two weeks. The marches, the protests, the phone calls, the federal judges already blocking his executive orders. As Vox pointed out this morning, Trump and the GOP have retreated in major ways since his inauguration. They had to walk back their midnight scheme to gut the Congressional Ethics Office; put a pin in their plan to sell huge swaths of public land; perpetually justify their support of Trump’s cabinet picks; and watch Trump’s approval ratings tank faster than any president in history.

Liberal and progressive activism of varying tactics and angles has disoriented and devastated them, and on behalf of people groups the GOP has been scapegoating with ease for decades. In the face of so many setbacks, there’s no way Donald Trump was going to go up against LGBTQ people, at least not right now; we boast one of the most organized, well-funded, successful, and popular activist movements in modern history.

Pence’s lies about Trump’s compassionate, patriot’s heart don’t matter at this point. The truth is that even if Trump never signs a pointedly anti-LGBT executive order into law, LGBTQ people are already being harmed by his xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist administration, because LGBTQ people belong to all of those groups targeted by them. And even if Trump doesn’t personally want to target LGBTQ people, it’s clear that he’s not competent enough to stand in the way of the GOP members who have been working to do so for years in the form of bathroom bills, RFRAs, and more. That’s why this weekend over 2,000 protesters showed up at the Stonewall Inn to decry Trump’s executive orders, despite the fact that they haven’t (yet) singled us out explicitly.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Every time I try to send well-written articles like this to my Trump supporting friend, to explain WHY we, as a community,are so terrified and enraged, she just doesn’t get it. But I’ll continue sending them as long as you guys keep writing them. Thank you for your continued coverage, and your refusal to give up. <3

  2. I think that is exactly it. They know how organized the LGBTQ Community has been, and they are terrified of it. My personal theory is that not every Trump supporter in Rural America Trump Country knows a refugee, immigrant, or a Muslim, so they are cheering things like the ban on Muslim countries. But they all sure as hell have a gay cousin at this point, and with same sex marriage being almost 2 years old, those same Trump supporters will be less inclined to see their gay cousin picked on by the administration.

    What they don’t realize is that most of us in the queer community will fight for ALL minority groups, not just our own.

  3. “Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room. Visitors conclude their meetings and then wander around, testing doorknobs until finding one that leads to an exit.”

    Jesus Fucking Christ, these people are running your country!!!!!!

  4. I think the executive order was never gonna be a real thing – I’ve seen headlines that Ivanka talked Trump out of it, but it seems likely to me that leaking rumors of an order and then not following through is just a strategy to get white LGBTQ people on board.

    Not gonna work, fucker.

    • I didn’t think of it that way, but that’s an interesting point. I also wouldn’t be surprised if his daughter talked him out of it, as she and her husband for years were voting Democrat(I think it has to do with not want to support the Evangelicals who want to convert everyone not Protestants). I would have thoight maybe Peter talking him out of it, but then again he doesn’t seem like the type to do so.

      I will have to disagree a little on not going to work with white LGBTQ folks(more so GBQ men). I dunno if you have seen some of the comment section of lgbtq sites like the advocate, but on some articles there is a good number of posters, who are white gbq men who are republican leaning and Milo supporter, who were a bit on the fence(actually saw it on the comment section). It’s actually kind of scary as some of these people where actually defending Milo’s actions saying gay men have each others backs or something les/trans/biphboic. Ugh

        • Yes, they only care about minorities when it’s time to publish something like “10 hot Latino hunks” or something like that

          • I know, it’s like I reading and article about something serious on these sites and on the sides and bellow it’s like this Latin athlete is caliente under his uniform, and it’s a picture of the dude half clothed. Not to get off topic, but I always wondered why there isn’t a version of those sites and magazines for lbtq people by lbtq people that’s by us and isn’t fetishizing us.

            But, yeah I keep promising myself not to read the comments section and then I do and get offended to see it either being infiltrated by the racist/Christian conservative right, or by gay men who agree with the lesphobic/biphpbic/transphobic actions and/or comments.

  5. Yes this this this. The Gross Powers That Be (heretofore referred to as TGPTB) are using a classic divide and conquer tactic, hoping that the cis white gay part of the LGBTQ community that so dominates popular culture/consciousness will cling more to their cis white identity than to their queer identity, and go along with the fear mongering the Trump regime and its friends engage in against people of color/immigrants/refugees/non-Christians, etc.

    I mean, the sad thing is that TGPTB are only drawing on a thing that has and continues to happen – I see it far too often, especially among cis white gay men of means who have ZERO awareness or care for the more vulnerable and less privileged members of the LGBTQ community. I mean, look no further than guys like the gay hotel owners who supported Ted Cruz (and paid for it:

    It rears its head every time the far right tries to tell us to support their xenophobic tactics because “look how ISIS treats gay people!” as though this is a zero sum game, and as though ISIS represents all Muslims.

    We can’t let this happen. Now more than ever is the time to stand more strongly together, as opposed to allowing these wedges to be driven in.

    Thanks for writing this, Heather.

  6. Thank you for that well-written and uplifting article. I got emotional reading this part:
    “we boast one of the most organized, well-funded, successful, and popular activist movements in modern history”
    I grew up hearing really bad, homophobic/biphobic things said by my parents about that movement, so it is really refreshing to hear nice, true things about it.

Comments are closed.