Some local LGBT activists are looking back on 2016 with a sense of accomplishment. But there’s a different feeling looking ahead to 2017 with the incoming Trump Administration and Republican-controlled Congress: a mixture of nervousness and confidence.
Bryan Wilson, director of community relations for SunServe, said positive treatment of LGBT youth has become the standard practice in Broward. “For every youth services, that LGBTQ competency and proficiency was all but required. That was just a huge win. Now, it’s not even a question of whether you can treat gay kids well. It’s now just status quo. That has just become common language for Broward County.”
Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center, saw progress on a very large and very local scale.
“The LGBT community gained more recognition and visibility within the country. From a [Pride] Center standpoint, I think that we’ll continue to make strides and commitments towards helping LGBT seniors.” On seniors, Boo specifically cited the affordable housing project his organization is moving forward with.
David Jobin, president of Our Fund, said he didn’t see a lot of progress made in 2016 but said the bloodiest anti-LGBT event in decades, the mass shooting in Orlando, and its aftermath, reminded him of the size of support for the LGBT community and the work that still needs to be done.
“In the wake of wins… it was a reminder there’s still a large swath of the population who means us harm. At the same time, the outpouring of support was incredible,” Jobin said. “We’ve been successful in achieving progress on getting more people on our side, but there’s still a segment of the population that does not believe in equality.”
Although Jobin, Boo, and Wilson brought up different examples of progress, all three view gay marriage as most likely safe.
“I don’t think marriage equality is going to be reversed, at least I hope not. I think it’s hard to take away a civil right once it’s been given. I really don’t think Trump wants to do that,” Boo said. “I think it’s no more under threat than Roe v. Wade has been under threat,” Wilson said.
But all three do worry about transgender rights and say that’s where the LGBT community will have to fight the hardest to “hold the line,” as Jobin put it.
Boo said “these stupid bathroom bills” and other conservative bills based on “gender identity” need to be stopped.
“I don’t see any progress being made on transgender issues. That’s really where we’re going to have to play defense. [The transgender community is] not as widely accepted because they’re not as widely understood. We have to be better advocates,” Jobin said.
“I believe that our advocacy work is going to have to be stronger than ever so we don’t lose any of the gains that we have achieved over the last several years . . . with the help of President Obama,” said Boo. “Communities are going to have to come together, unite and fight like hell so we don’t lose anything that we’ve gained. I don’t think marriage equality will roll back but I just don’t want things to stay stagnant and not go any further.”
No matter what the challenges, Wilson said the election was a wake-up call to his generation.
“We can’t just ride the coattails [of the previous generations]. We have to affect our own change… awaken the younger electorate. Time for us to put down our iPhones… or let’s figure out a way to use those tools to help [move our agenda forward].”