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    Ann Rostow: But Those Emails!

    By Ann Rostow–

    But Those Emails!

    Hillary Clinton stopped by the Pride Portraits office during a trip to Houston the other day, adding her photograph to a series of gay friendly celebrities and allies who have posed for the visibility project over the last three years. Started after the Pulse nightclub massacre, Pride Portraits has photographed over 4,000 people and has been shared with followers in 46 countries. 

    I was drawn to this story because I remain a Clinton admirer and do not share the conventional view that she was a lousy candidate who ran a horrible campaign. She lost in a fluke election, beset by a relentlessly negative press corps that failed to explain that she did not send classified information over her private email server. Instead, we all heard how “careless” she was for using a system that might be hacked, although it wasn’t. Never mind the fact that the communications involved mundane administrative traffic and that any classified materials were exchanged over a different, secure system. 

    This, the true story, contained too much nuance for a simple-minded audience, and meanwhile, the media gleefully spent its time knocking down the woman who appeared to be a lock for the presidency. No one likes a front runner, particularly during campaign season when there was colorful counter-programming to be had at the Trump camp with its over-the-top insults and rabble rousing. Throw in holier-than-thou Jim Comey, who also assumed Clinton would win, and we find ourselves in our current ungodly mess. 

    Let’s not even mention that Trump himself uses a hackable cell phone all the time, that Ivanka used personal email for months at the start of the administration and that Jared failed his top-secret clearance vetting over and over again, yet he was given access to high level material regardless, as were several colleagues. But who cares! Even the expression “Hillary’s emails” remains a shorthand for some mysterious transgression, an empty suitcase that no one bothered to unpack or even open, while the current White House wallows in corruption and shady dealings that spring to life every other week in the pages of the Times or the Post, only to fade from view as the latest scandal takes center stage for a day.

    On Our Knees

    Shall we remind ourselves (and I refer to all GLBT Americans) of the impact of our tepid support for this accomplished woman, our protest votes for Jill Stein and our flat-out misogyny? 

    We have a five–four conservative majority on the Supreme Court, now poised to undermine GLBT rights for a generation or more in two major cases next year.

    We have almost as many far-right antigay federal appellate court judges seated by Trump (41) as we had good ones seated by Obama over eight years (55). 

    We have reversed Justice Department, cabinet level and agency policies that recognized GLBT civil rights throughout the United States, stripping protective language and reinterpreting federal statutes to facilitate discrimination in myriad areas of public life. (More on that in a minute.)

    We have ripped transgender soldiers and sailors out of the military and refused to recognize the families of binational same-sex couples. 

    And that’s just in our community. We’ve separated children from their parents, damaging them forever, deported thousands of tax-paying immigrants for no reason, and jeopardized the status of those who came to this country as children and are now hard-working, educated residents.  

    We have blown up our relationships with allied countries, perhaps irreparably, and destroyed our reputation as honest brokers of international disputes around the world. We have turned Iran into an arch-enemy on the brink of war, thanks to Jared’s naive man-crush on the barbaric Saudi crown prince. 

    We are a laughing stock, and yet it’s not funny at all. 

    Meanwhile, Trump, who declines to issue Pride proclamations, is selling a $24 rainbow t-shirt on his website that says, “LGBTQ For Trump.” 

    Gays for Trump

    Speaking of LGBTQ for Trump, The Washington Post just ran an article describing the Trump campaign’s habit of trotting out an anomalous minority supporter like the one Black guy we used to see standing behind the President at Trump rallies. There’s now a gay guy, Brandon Straka, who hates Democrats, and a Jewish woman, Elizabeth Pipko, who leads the “Jexodus” effort to get American Jews to renounce progressive politics. Straka, the Post reports, has been bopping around Fox explaining that transgender men and women don’t belong in the military and that Democrats are forcing all of their voters to hate white people and men.

    But he’s gay! So surely that indicates some debate within the GLBT community, right? We’re not a monolith. Um, I also read that scientists are constantly checking the composition of El Capitan in Yosemite, and that every now and then they find a small chip or something. Maybe El Capitan is not as solid as it looks!

    A week or so earlier, I read an op-ed in USA Today by a gay college kid who thinks the Equality Act, our signature civil rights effort in Congress, goes too far and is an assault on religious freedom. Thanks for your input, random conservative gay kid. And thanks, USA Today, for recognizing that a contrarian essay is more interesting than (yawn) a thoughtful piece by one of those boring GLBT political activists. 

    Meanwhile, Trump and company’s revised antigay and anti-trans legal analysis is seeping through the administration to our detriment with every passing week. While the Obama lawyers concluded that transgender Americans were protected under laws that banned sex discrimination, Trump minions have gone the other way. Under Trump’s interpretation, language in the Affordable Care Act no longer extends to gender identity or to pregnant women. 

    Now, the Department of Housing and Urban Development no longer welcomes homeless transgender men and women into its publicly funded shelters. Instead, shelter providers can insist on faith-based exclusions or require trans people to revert to their sex at birth before allowing them to use a facility.

    At the Justice Department, where Obama’s team considered sexual orientation to be a suspect classification, requiring courts to scrutinize instances of bias and giving the benefit of the doubt to gay plaintiffs, Trump’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to rule that sex discrimination under federal law covers men and women, period. No trans, no gays, no lesbians, no nothing. The High Court, as you know, has agreed to rule on the scope of sex discrimination next term in two cases, a gay case and a trans case.

    Over at the Education Department, Betsy Devos now says that Title IX’s ban on sex bias no longer covers transgender students or employees. 

    And how about the new “conscience rule” that lets faith-based medical practitioners pick and choose their patients and their procedures, even in emergencies? 

    These rollbacks are all being challenged in court, but the problem with administrative interpretations of unsettled law is that subsequent administrations can change their minds. Passage of the Equality Act (not possible in today’s Senate) or a good ruling from the Supreme Court (hmm) would anchor GLBT-friendly policies in law. But until then we will witness an erosive climate change in civil rights as the months roll on.

    Lycra to the Rescue

    Moving on, I just paid a visit to “pornhub,” which is, as you might guess, a porn site. Oh? You already knew that? Of course you did! 

    Pornhub is advertising men’s bathing trunks that let you hide your erection when you find yourself aroused on a public beach. “Whether it’s the swarms of half-naked bods, a warm breeze catching you just the right way, or simply because your little buddy’s got a mind of his own; if you start to rise, our patented Bonerless Technology will stop the tide,” pornhub promises. “So, grab your shades and your surfboard and leave your worries at home, because turning your next hard-on into a hard-off will be a day at the beach.” I also found myself watching a Beach Boys style commercial for the innovative product, which includes an inner layer of form-fitting material to “hold in the excitement … in your time of need.”

    I’m guessing that my email feed will shortly be overrun with naughty opportunities thanks to this cyber-walk on the wild side, but I’m not worried. I recently did something, I’m not sure what, and I have already triggered a daily barrage of email ads for erectile dysfunction and other sexy products, so it can’t get much worse.

    By the way, after checking out pornhub, I can see why the latest generation has a problem with sex. Take it from me, young straight guys, that’s not what the girls like. I know they’re panting and screaming on the screen, but I guarantee they are faking it for your viewing pleasure. Perhaps, like Trump’s minority supporters, you can find the one female who a) reaches a powerful climax after exactly two minutes of hair pulling and erratic pounding, and b) thinks you’re attractive. If so, don’t let her go because you won’t find another anytime soon.

    Would You Rather … Go to Kenya or Fresno?

    Elsewhere, there’s bad news out of Kenya, where the High Court has upheld colonial era sodomy laws. And there’s good news out of Taiwan, where marriage equality has now been enacted under a court order from two years ago, and in Brazil, where the high court “took a decisive step,” I read, towards banning gay and trans bias. I admit I lacked the patience to investigate exactly what the “decisive step” entailed or when the final step might be trod. It was enough for me to know that something positive took place in Brazil. Yay!

    In Alabama, home of the six-week abortion, the legislature has passed a bizarre bill that ends marriage licenses in the state for everyone, replacing them with some other document. The system conforms to law since both gay and straight couples can get this new thing, but it’s unclear how this advances anyone’s politics, either on the left or the right. 

    Also, I was astonished to read that the AAA Fresno Grizzlies aired a “patriotic” Memorial Day video during a weekend double header that included a shot of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez along with Kim Jong Un and Fidel Castro as examples of “enemies of freedom.” The images flashed during a voice over by Ronald Reagan saying: 

    “As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it. We will not surrender for it, now or ever.” 

    According to The Washington Post, the Grizzlies apologized and said the staff member responsible for the montage was “remorseful.”

    “A pre-produced video from outside our front office was selected,” said the team spokesperson. “Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a moving tribute ended with some misleading and offensive editing, which made a statement that was not our intent and certainly not our opinion.” 

    Pre-produced? Guys? How could you allow a video to be aired during your game, to your fans, without even watching it once? AOC had no comment.

    Dykes to Watch Out For

    Finally, I started watching the HBO series Gentleman Jack about a sexy mid-19th century lesbian in York, who seduces women and dominates men in a black suit and top hat. She also shot her horse (who had “glanders”) in a scene that I couldn’t watch. Aside from that, I liked it.

    Is it my imagination or are there lesbians all over the small and big screens these days? I gather Booksmart has a lesbian theme, as does The Favourite and the one about the girl who got sent to conversion therapy camp. Oh, there was also the one where parents tried to stop their kids from losing their virginity on prom night and it turned out one of the girls was gay.

    More than that, it seems as if I stumble upon a lesbian subplot every other day through random channel surfing or movie reviews. Back in the day, we would line up for even the slightest reference to our lives, even holding watch parties for The L Word, which always bored the hell out of me. At least Trump can’t stop the general improvement of our fictional screen lives. 

    He can’t, can he?