More than 1 Lesson from Thiel’s Affair with Trump

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 8.15.58 AMI too have had some months to soak in all those Trump assurances.  Not that I was ever stupid enough to believe them: The “oh don’t worry about LGBT rights going backwards, Trump will be great to gays, after all he has ‘Ivanka the Wonderful’, who has sooo many gay friends, she will surely influence him” (Can one come forward please?)  And Peter Thiel, the Trump supporting gay billionaire’s reassurance to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd: “I think Trump is very good on gay rights. I don’t think he will reverse anything. I would obviously be concerned if I thought otherwise,” as pointed out by Michelangelo Signorile in his Huffpo piece this month.

Signorile notes:

“What a difference seven months makes. Donald Trump is turning out to be, in his actions as opposed to mere words or proclamations, among the most anti-LGBTQ presidents in history. Unlike George W. Bush, who promoted a heinous federal marriage amendment that had no way of passing ― while he left intact President Clinton’s gay-affirming executive orders, including protecting gay federal workers ― Trump is actually using his power to roll back LGBTQ rights as a gift to his ravenous religious right base.”

Signorile lays out the damage – read it – not only does Trump’s actions against the LGBTI community illustrate flagrant disregard for our Constitutional rights, but it spits in the face of decades of hard work in the name of progress.

It is one thing to deny rights which have yet to be attained,  but to roll back the rights which had taken so long to acquire in a matter of weeks, without so much as a moment’s discussion with those it impacts, is not only indicative of a severe a lack of solicitude, but exudes a disdain so repugnant that it insists on hate. Indeed if the White House could it would certainly be designated a SPLC hate group!  And that ought not to have been a surprise for the intelligent likes of Mr. Thiel- given the henchmen, from Pence to Bannon, who Trump had imbued with titles.

Surely there is more than one lesson to be learned: When something starts to smell – don’t think spraying it with a bottle of $5,500 Clive Christian will eliminate the rot. And worse yet when its dressed in a suit, do not presume its decency. Lest we forget Mr. Thiel’s own dicta as noted in his book, “Zero To One,” where he speaks of his venture fund’s policy on suits, to ‘never invest in a tech CEO who wears one.’

However lets not talk suit or skirt, nor reflect on the external trap of superficiality. What was the man thinking? Was he?  I am sure that he was. He had turned the dial to ‘high privilege.’  Its easy to reassure when it serves you and your privilege and that is much more than mere opportunism, the latter a given for the likes of some. Of that I have no doubt.

Lets remember that we the little public of ‘others’ did not continue to nod in silence to the consistent mansplaining: The man said it! The rich man said it! The white man said it! The gay man said it!

So let us not again erase the women in this picture and how we refuse such reassurance.  Those of us who stood up to Thiel and his type. We refused to believe him and them. The hundreds of thousands of lesbians who marched alongside their sisters the minute Trump took office….  We took to the streets in the largest of women numbers ever – our Women’s March was having none of it. We did not believe Thiel and we saw him for what he is.

I highly recommend reading the Signorile article. I share much of what is expressed and deduced. “Thiel’s backing of Trump was all about his own opportunism.” Indeed it was – but let us not forget how Thiel got to where he is – so that he could further this opportunism.   The propping up, the discrimination from within our own community, the self serving erasure and it has the propensity to continue. Its more than just Thiel- its all who helped create Thiel and perpetuate the HIM of HIM.

In point- when openly gay Dustin Lance Black, the highly revered academy award winning screenwriter just happened to exclude Sally Miller Gearhart from his MILK script. He had erased the iconic lesbian activist from a film which became the public voice for our history. Sally fought against the Briggs initiative and much of the defeat could be attributed to her work.  Black attributed Sally’s historic brilliant televised lines and thus her voice, to Harvey Milk in the film “Milk.”   Not a single gay man who was there stood up and corrected Black or spoke out against this. Sally was devastated.  Now in her eighties she was erased in her lifetime. Until we on the San Francisco Pride Board remembered and honored her with the San Francisco Pride’s Heritage of Pride Award in 2016.  But that film will still be watched and new audiences will take in the eradicated lesbian history – all thanks to the opportunity of Black. Erasing Sally was tantamount to erasing us all: as somewhat noted in my article “When Harvey Met Sally” published in the Advocate and LGBTQ Nation.

And so Dustin Lance Black was destined for HIS Thiel-like moment which he did assert during the 2012 election, in a Hollywood Reporter article“Hollywood & Politics: Dustin Lance Black Blames Obama and Romney for the Mess of Gay Marriage (Opinion)”.  In essence Black wanted you to believe that President Obama was no different to Mitt Romney, when it it came to same-sex marriage equality.   Black was shooting from his gay white man position of comfort. From HIS perspective.  Did he give ALL us LGBTQI a moment of thought when voicing his opinion in such an alien yet critical forum?   I think I may have been the only one who took Black to task – horribly incensed by the audacity of his privilege and should we say opportunism? See The Advocate OPED: “Wise up Dustin Lance Black.

Perhaps the  privilege and resulting opportunism – is too deep rooted – can it change? So when all is said and done – lets remember that when we continue to prop up privilege we will continue to get Thiel like opportunists.    It is only when we take full note of our history and the myriad of erasures in every realm of intersections that we can truly turn our reprimand into the hope for effective change.

By Melanie Nathan
Twitter: @MelanieNathan1
Instagram: @commissionermelnathan


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