Denying Pride, Support, and the Rainbow Flag
The Trump Administration has been rejecting requests to fly the rainbow flag at US embassies.
It is heartbreaking to know that the path to equality and justice is not a linear one. This last week, Vice President Mike Pence admitted to the claims that the Trump Administration had been denying requests from embassies to fly the rainbow flag, the symbol of support to LGBTQ+ people. This new policy is a reversal of the Obama Administration policy, which was to grant all requests to fly the Pride flag during Pride Month.
Pence defended the decision to turn down the requests from embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil, and Latvia.
“I’m aware that the State Department indicated that on the flagpole of our American embassies that one flag should fly—and that’s the American flag. And I support that,” he told NBC news.
This is not the first rollback on gay and transgender support in this presidency. The Human Rights Campaign has kept a record of the rollbacks on LGBTQ+ rights during the Trump Administration. From the first action of removing all LGBTQ+ issues from the White House official webpage shortly after the president was sworn into office, to announcing that there would be a military ban on transgender people, the administration have been hostile to many LGBTQ+ people.
And when support is shown, it is lukewarm at best. At the beginning of Pride Month, Trump tweeted acknowledgment and support of LGBTQ+ people:
“As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals….”
Trump’s acknowledgment of Pride Month is a new one, as during the first two years of his presidency, the White House has been silent on the issue. Still, his tweet feels facetious when in the face of his conspicuous lack of support even now. Transgender people are even more vulnerable, as the Trump administration has rolled back protections to their access to healthcare, along with the military ban. Earlier this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a rule which would allow federally funded homeless shelters to deny transgender people on the basis of religious freedom.
It is soul crushing to see the reversal of support in recent years. As a kid, I found a lot of solace in the LGBTQ+ community. I was just different. Growing up, I wore a lot of handmade clothes, and was considered a weird kid. As time went by, I naturally gravitated toward other social outcasts, many of whom were LGBT. I eventually realized that I, myself, was a part of that community.
Growing up being bullied for being different was tough, but it taught me to fight for those who need it. I’ve said for years that I wouldn’t get married unless anyone can get married, regardless of sex. Four years ago, we won that right. But the fight’s not over. Now, as transgender issues get more visibility, trans people themselves are more targeted by those in power. We’ve seen that with state-led “bathroom bills,” and we’ve seen that with the Trump administration’s rollback on protections to trans individuals.
Luckily, there are people in this country who are happy to show their support for LGBTQ+ people across the world. Some US embassies are still flying the rainbow flag. The US Missions in Seoul, South Korea, and Chennai, India have hung the flag from their facades, and the Embassy in New Delhi, India proudly displays the rainbow flag as vibrant colors splashing against the ornate walls of the edifice. Still others are joining in on Pride celebrations internationally, and are working to spearhead a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, and protect transgender people around the world.
Even in the face of adversity, some people are still willing to stand up for what they know is right. I know that I will continue to advocate for my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender siblings. Will you?