It looks like the scales are starting to fall from the eyes of gay supporters of Donald Trump: Though the former reality-star garnered almost 15% of the LGBT vote in November, his queer backers are increasingly voicing dissatisfaction with the direction of his presidency.
Last week Caitlyn Jenner, who publicly supported Trump during the election, called his administration the “worst ever” for LGBT rights. “I was hoping for a lot better than this,” she said. “And I was somewhat optimistic and I thought, ’This guy is going to be okay.’ He has totally, totally disappointed me.”
Leading gay Republican advocate Jimmy LaSalvia echoed Jenner’s comments, telling The Daily Beast “this administration will go down as the most anti-LGBT in history.”
“Trump’s supporters like to say, ‘It’s not what he says, it’s what he does that matters.’” said LaSalvia, co-founder of the now-defunct group GOProud.
“That’s definitely the case when it comes to issues affecting LGBT Americans. I never thought that Donald Trump was an anti-gay homophobe. I certainly didn’t think that when I met him back in 2011. But we’ve all learned a lot about who he really is since then.”
But LaSalvia, like many gays for Trump, still doesn’t seem to think the president’s actions come from an ingrained hatred of LGBT people. Rather, things like reinstating the ban on trans service members and backing religious freedom laws are “political pandering and posturing to endear himself to the intolerant wing of the GOP.”
Instead of admitting they backed the wrong horse, gay Republicans maintain Trump has just, y’know, fallen in with the wrong crowd. Chris Barron, who co-founded GOProud with LaSalvia, insists the President “has met my expectations.”
“My concern has always been what happens at the department and agency levels,” Barron told DB. “And I definitely have concerns with what is going on at Department of Justice. The Attorney General has a very different position on LGBT issues than the president does. But his job is to carry forward the president’s agenda and not push his own… I’m certainly concerned he is [pushing his own agenda].”
Which is a more likely scenario: That the president is virulently homophobic or that he’s not in control of his cabinet? And if the net result is the same—the reversal of hard-fought advances for the LGBT community—does it really matter?