‘Vote like lives depend on it’

Life and death is on the line when it comes to choosing a president

The author is an award-winning commentator in LGBT media and the author of the memoir And Then I Danced.

This is LGBT History Month and we’re also at the close of a very contentious presidential campaign, an interesting convergence.

One thing we as a community learned from the AIDS epidemic was that we had to learn to organize since we were fighting for our lives. We have a new generation that does not know what that time was like, what that statement meant or how it shadows this election.

The LGBT community of the 1980s was one in sheer shock. Those in the medical sciences were not sure what they should do. Why? Because leadership from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health did not act quickly because they received silence from elected officials, namely President Reagan. In times of crisis, a president can make all the difference.

What about today? We’re still fighting AIDS and funds need to be spent to find a cure. Apart from the epidemic, LGBT lives are at stake in other areas. Uganda, for example, keeps attempting to pass legislation that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. What does it have to do with the election in our country? Donald Trump has been endorsed by the very evangelicals who support this legislation. To date, it was only the Obama administration that has kept this from becoming law.

How about here in the United States? Trump’s running mate believes in conversion therapy—the torture and imprisonment of LGBT youth.

Still not enough?

When the Pulse nightclub was the target of what looks like antigay terrorism, Trump at first would not mention “LGBT.” Instead, he said he would not allow Muslims into our country. The fact that the man who did this was a Muslim was all he cared about, as well as making a few campaign points. Trump then said he’d stop gay terrorists from coming into this country. What about the antigay terrorists who are Americans? Oh, he’s standing on a stage with them, shaking their hands and accepting their endorsements.

Vote like lives depend on it. They do.