By Morgan M. Hurley | Analysis
Trump election ‘worst possible scenario’ for most in community
This is a very difficult article to write, but write I shall.
As I made my rounds of the bars in Hillcrest on Tuesday evening, what started out on the premise of reporting on a celebratory atmosphere of adulation, inclusion and hope, very quickly turned into a night of horrifying terror for most of our local LGBT community.
I must admit, as the night went on, it became harder and harder to do my job.
In bar after bar, I talked to people who, glued to televisions and watching early election returns, were already fearful of the outcome and their very future.
Sure, there were a number of times I experienced rooms filled with gays and allies who erupted into cheers when Hillary Clinton was projected to take another state — Colorado, California, Oregon — but as the crimson red that signifies the Republican Party moved more assuredly across the maps of the United States displayed on each TV channel, it was like witnessing a dark plague creep its way west, touching every joyful Hillary supporter and bringing them to their knees.
Just the day before, and in fact just that very morning, a secret Facebook group called “Pantsuit Nation,” with its endless posts of positivity — which were often significantly personal — had instilled confidence, unity and an extreme level of certainty within its nearly 3 million members.
As the day gave way to evening, however, that certainty was already in a backspin.
Inside #1 Fifth Ave., all televisions were queued to MSNBC and all bar stools were filled.
Mac, a San Diego resident since 1987, said he’d like to see an end to the death penalty, the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, and U.S. Rep. “Darrell Issa go away.” Admittedly nervous, he also had a comment on the national election.
“I can’t imagine Donald Trump as president of the United States,” he said.
Tim, seated across the curved end of the bar from him, agreed. He had voted by mail and had created his own sheet of “I Voted” stickers for others who also did so.
Noting the early concern when Obama first ran, Tim still felt positive.
“There is a lot of red, so that is kind of scary but as soon as it gets to the Midwest and California. I think it will be fine,” Tim said. “I hope it will be fine.”
Also for marijuana passage, Tim felt California’s condom proposition was “silly,” feeling they were just trying to “make it tough” on the producers of pornography, which will force them to leave the state. He also didn’t support the stadium measure.
Out on the back patio, I was directed to the only Trump supporter in the bar.
“If we think about Hillary, things will basically go in the same direction [as Obama], she admits that,” he said. “So my opinion is we have to make a very determined change that leads our country in a different direction with greater leadership, emphasis on jobs, lower taxes, smaller government, border patrol and illegal immigration, security and the Supreme Court.”
When asked if he wasn’t concerned about his rights being taken away with a more conservative Supreme Court, he became incensed.
“To me the gay issue is absolutely unimportant; it’s way down on the list,” he said. “There are far more important things. I’m gay but I’m not a gay zealot. The most important thing is how our country is going to survive and the gay thing is not that important. People that are in the gay community put far too much importance on it.”
Tiger, who runs the Pictionary games on Wednesday nights, was glued to the television in the back patio. While she said she could “give two shits” about a football stadium, she said her focus was on the national race and mostly concerned about the Supreme Court.
“I’m pretty nauseous right now, actually,” she said, watching the returns. “Hillary is going to win, I’m pretty confident about that.”
Babycakes had all three televisions on CNN but with the sound off, a standing rule I was told, even during Super Bowl. A number of regulars and their friends had gathered, but it was not overly busy.
I spoke to two sisters, both who identify as straight, who were there with their husbands and six friends to watch the returns together.
“We were just talking about how there is a sense of fear if Trump wins, but I don’t think I’ve even processed that,” Sarah said. “At the same time, one of the scary things is that if Hillary doesn’t win, half of the country supports the things Trump stands for.”
“Right now I am really nervous watching the numbers come in and it’s a little disconcerting,” Sarah’s sister Megan said. “I think when you live in an area like Hillcrest, you have this impression that people are of like-minded everywhere else, because so many people are like-minded in this area. So when you start seeing those numbers come through after she was polling so well in so many places, it is actually kind of alarming.”
Megan said she is also hoping for the legalization of marijuana and an end to the death penalty in California.
Another young black man at the bar said he was too shy to talk to me on record, but admitted he’d voted for Jill Stein.
I next made my way to Urban MO’s and as I waited outside for my turn to get in, I overheard something very disturbing.
“If Hillary wins, I hope Trump and Pence’s people kill her and Kaine becomes president,” the man working security at the door said to two other men also waiting to get in. Shocked, I asked him if I had heard him correctly, that he hoped Hillary would be killed.
“Oh, I would like to see Trump and Pence killed, too,” he said.
Once inside, most told me they were unable to comment due to what they were seeing on screen.
Jake, a gay, middle-aged Latino man, shared that as a government worker, he had been very pleased with the progress of the Obama Administration regarding LGBT rights. He was “a little nervous” watching the returns that those rights would all would be reversed with a Trump presidency.
I moved on to Flicks, which was packed to the gills and had MSNBC, CNN and FOX on its televisions. They had just completed a costume contest and Jolene, a local trans activist, had won with her Hillary costume, which included a polyester pantsuit, of course.
“I’m transgender, I’m a woman over 50, I’m HIV-positive, I’m on Medi-Cal, and I’m not exactly what Trump would consider ‘pretty,’” she said.
“I’m very anxious,” said Jeremy, a young local activist. “A man who does not believe in equal rights for women, LGBT people, African-Americans … we are in a race right now for our rights. I see states that I always thought were very progressive — like Wisconsin and Michigan — that are going for Trump. We made tremendous amount of progress over the last eight years and it’s like we’re going backwards.
“If Trump gets elected I will work my ass off to stand up for our rights, to make sure our voices are being heard,” he continued. “We’ll survive but we’ll be putting up a fight every single day.”
I noticed that all three TV channels had differing electoral counts at the same point in the evening — significantly different — and while Hillary led in two, the outlook continued to look even more bleak as I made my way to Gossip Grill.
“We’re here,” General Manager Moe Girton said as she met me at the door. “But it’s pretty dismal inside.”
It was after I entered Gossip that I stopped putting people through the questions. None of us had it in us anymore.
Early the next day, I reached out to the president of Democrats for Equality, our local LGBT group, for this article.
“Last night, through teary eyes, San Diego Democrats looked in horror as they watched as a nation gone mad take a step towards darkness,” William Rodriguez-Kennedy said. “There is no way to sugarcoat the consequences of last night’s presidential election especially for the LGBTQ+ community.
“We can, however, take solace in the fact that that locally, there is hope. Democracy was served with the passage of measures K and L and it appears that San Diego has elected its first woman and Latina City Attorney in Mara Elliot. Further, though ballots are still being counted, it appears LGBT candidates have prevailed. Georgette Gomez has won her race for San Diego City Council in District 9, Cori Schumacher looks to be ahead in her race for Carlsbad City Council, and Steve Padilla looks to be winning his race for Chula Vista City Council.”
I spent my Wednesday getting a lot of anger out and letting Trump voters on my Facebook feed know why I wasn’t OK with what they had done. I’m not sure they understand just yet, but they will.
Of all the posts I read on Facebook Wednesday, the one filled with the most clarity came from Dr. Delores Jacobs, president and CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, so I end with this:
“So many have reached out afraid, most of us didn’t see it coming,” she wrote. “We are saddened, disgusted and outraged. The election rhetoric was bad enough, never mind this outcome.
“But we have stood here before — searching for the words, searching for the answers. We have had to find the words and answers together before. We found them. We will find them again.
“After eight years of some truly amazing victories for some, we are beginning to realize again that the path forward is longer than we hoped. The systemic racism and sexism; the rage at the loss of an imagined 1950s paradise for some and the fear of change in parts of America — are more deeply entrenched than some among us imagined.
“But we also know that we can and will fight together forward toward justice and the America we imagine. The fight isn’t different — it’s just longer.
“First we heal ourselves and each other. Then we reexamine where we are, then we #suitup and #showup to win justice … again.
“What we won’t do despite the pundits — is tear our communities and coalitions apart searching for ‘who is to blame?’ It’s not the Berners’ fault. It’s not the millennials’ fault. It’s not those who hope for third parties fault. It’s not the fault of Blacks, Pan-Asians or Latinos. It’s not the LGBT community’s fault. Finding someone to blame may feel good to some for a moment — but then injustice truly wins. We have learned this before. Many times.
“We are an intersectional community that proudly fights for justice, equality and equity, for all of us; proudly, fiercely, unashamedly … yesterday, today and tomorrow.
“Yes the road got longer, yes we are going to catch our breath … but we know we will find the fierce heart to fight again — together.”
What she said.
See other election results here.
—Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.