On MAGA hats...

Would you choose a hat over a friend?

If you’re feeling like you need a laugh as we descend further into dystopia, check out all the #RevolutionaryWarAirportStories folks have come up with to make fun of President Trump’s Fourth of July gaffe. I’m going to editorialize a bit below about a personal experience I had involving a MAGA hat, but I’ll bury it so it doesn’t get in the way for those of you who just want to read the LGBTQ news.

Trump administration tries to rewrite history again

The big news of the day is how Trump is going to try to force through the Census citizenship question even after losing at the Supreme Court. As a reminder, this question would significantly discourage many undocumented immigrants and their family members from participating in the Census, resulting in a significant undercount that would politically benefit whites and Republicans — a fact the administration knows.

What’s interesting about the Department of Justice’s latest brief is that it openly admits that Trump knows he can get away with rewriting his own history in order to prevail in the courts on his most discriminatory policies.

Generally, when the government decides to do something, it needs to come up with a reasonable justification for doing it — and outright prejudice and discrimination is not a reasonable justification. If the record demonstrates there was a bad motivation, the courts tend to look down on attempts to go back after the fact and invent a different justification.

But in the new brief, the DOJ admits that it did just that with both the Muslim ban and the transgender military ban and that its intentions for the citizenship question are the same: Just ignore everything we said before and listen to what we’re saying now. Will the courts fall for it a third time?

If you don’t see how the Trump regime’s attempts to impoverish groups it doesn’t like all follow the same game plan, you’re not paying attention.

Border patrol humiliate migrant with homophobia

Further demonstrating the connection between different forms of intolerance, Customs and Border Patrol agents at a migrant processing center in Texas tried to humiliate a migrant using homophobia. According to emails obtained by CNN, the agents forced the Honduran man to be paraded around the facility while holding a sign reading “Me gustan los hombre(s)” (“I like men”). There was even a picture confirming the story, one of just many detailing the flagrant mistreatment of people simply trying to find a better life.

Alabama hair salon threatened over Pride flag

Upon returning home from World Pride in NYC, a hair salon owner in Homewood, Alabama found the following note taped to his business’s door:

THIS IS NOT SAN FRANCISCO OR DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM
THIS IS HOMEWOOD WHICH IS A RELIGIOUS AND FAMILY CITY
WE SUGGEST THAT YOU REMOVE THAT FLAG
BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
WE ARE CONCERNED CITIZENS
GOOD BYE

Police are now patrolling the area to ensure whoever posted the note doesn’t follow through on the threat.

NC trans woman arrested after using women’s restroom

Remember North Carolina, which once had the most anti-trans law of any state (HB2)? Well, it’s still not a great place to be trans. When a 22-year-old trans woman tried to use the women’s restroom at a Denny’s, she was accosted by a man who complained she was using the same restroom as his wife. The police had to come, though they defended the trans woman’s right to use that facility.

She nevertheless shouted down the man with expletives and spit at him, for which she was arrested on “disorderly conduct” charges. But then the police identified her as a “male identifying as a female.” Not a good look, North Carolina.

Kudos to Denny’s for making clear afterwards that its customers are always welcome to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Transphobes learning from anti-choicers

It’s not uncommon for anti-abortion activists to use graphic images as part of their campaigns, and now the UK’s TERFS (anti-trans “feminists”) are borrowing the same tactic. Click through to see the hateful messaging this small but loud group of feminists are using to try to demonize transgender people — and how the candid ugliness is backfiring.

Progress doesn’t guarantee safety

Belgium is one of the most progressive countries in the world, but for one newly out trans woman, it isn’t progressive enough. On her first night out in Antwerp presenting as a woman, a trans teenager was kidnapped and raped by three much older men. She only escaped after allegedly biting one of the men’s penises. The men don’t deny that there was sexual contact, but allege that the sex was consensual.

Beware pink giraffe shirts

The UK clothing store Fred & Noah posted that a pink t-shirt featuring an image of a giraffe had been returned to the story because “my husband won’t let my son wear it.” The comments quickly filled up with happy boys wearing various shades of pink.

Lil Nas X is gay, and facing a backlash

After his vague tweets last week, rapper Lil Nas X has confirmed that he is, in fact, gay. He acknowledged he has already faced backlash, but he is trying to roll with it because he used to spread negative messages too.

More gay penguin news!

Two female Gentoo penguins at Sea Life in London have adopted a chick together. “Marama and Rocky have taken to becoming parents like ducks to water – or should I say penguins,” the facility’s general manager said. Check out the pics!

Family accidentally takes Pride flight

I had just seen this story after I sent out Wednesday’ newsletter and still wanted to include it to round out the week. A family of four had booked a flight from London to New York that turned out to be Virgin Atlantic’s “Pride Flight.” The flight was basically one big Pride party in the sky, with drag queens and a crew of entirely LGBTQ employees. And the kids loved it:

On MAGA hats…

**WARNING** Personal thoughts incoming! **WARNING**

(But hey, it’s my newsletter, so it’s my prerogative.)

As I was browsing Facebook last night, I saw a picture of an old high school friend celebrating the Fourth of July with her daughter on her lap. She was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.

Now, this friend and her family are evangelical Christians, and I’ve definitely disagreed with them on many things. But we’ve had respectful conversations about many topics in the past, even on the very personal issue of their anti-gay beliefs, and I believed that there was still mutual respect despite these significant disagreements. I’ve even stayed in their home in the past. But seeing her proudly wearing a MAGA hat in public — and with her daughter no less — violated this accord deeply.

It’s not just a hat. It’s a symbol of all of the oppression and injustice the Trump administration is responsible for. It’s an endorsement of caging kids, banning Muslims, firing trans people, and dozens of other ways Trump has undermined our democracy — up to and including the fascist military display that graced the National Mall last night. More than anything, “MAGA” represents the idea that some human lives are worth more than others.

I explained all of this to my old friend. To those inclined to reject the humanity of any particular group, a MAGA hat is a symbol of affirmation — license and encouragement to continue holding those beliefs. To members of those many rejected groups, it’s a threat — a warning that such prejudice is welcome in that person’s vicinity (and may come from them directly). It’s unacceptable to me to be subjected to that symbol from someone with whom I hypothetically have mutual trust.

I gave my friend an ultimatum. I told her I wouldn’t unfriend her so long as she apologized for wearing the hat and promised me I wouldn’t have to see it in my feed again. When she claimed I was trying to police her beliefs, I corrected her, pointing out that my conditions only regarded the hat, not her position on any particular issue. When she claimed that she’s equally offended by the Pride flag, I corrected her again, explaining that objecting to a symbol of inclusion is in no way comparable to objecting to a symbol of exclusion and that she was making a false equivalency. When she said, “If I can’t have an opinion about something then I guess I don’t really live in a free country,” I knew there was no longer enough common ground for us to have a relationship.

We have free speech, but we don’t have freedom from accountability for that speech. Anyone reading this is free to wear a MAGA hat, but you can’t both wear a MAGA hat and claim to “love thy neighbor.” You can’t both wear a MAGA hat and claim to respect me or millions of other Americans. You can’t both wear a MAGA hat and believe that you’re not reinforcing hate and oppression against others. We’re way too far past such naivete at this point, and I certainly want no part in helping you to convince yourself otherwise.

As someone who writes about Trump and his subordinates every day, I need every reprieve I can find from the ongoing toxic demise of our country, including in my personal social media. But my decision today to unfriend this individual was no simple purge; I am significantly emotionally wounded. Here was someone with a happy, clean, healthy child on her lap openly praising the man who has torn apart families and won’t even give kids soap. And when asked to choose between a hat that embodies that evil and someone she’s known half her life, she chose the hat. It left me feeling like we’re so much worse off than I’d convinced myself we were.

My final words to her were: “Every time you wear the hat, you remember you lost a friendship over it. Every time.” I know for sure I’ll now think of her every time I see a MAGA hat, and I’ll fear its corrupting power even more than I used to.

Until next time, stay platinum.

(CBP homophobic sign photo credit: CNN.)
(MAGA hat photo credit: Flickr/r. nial bradshaw.)