How is it that after years of breakthroughs for LGBTQ equality — and vast progressive changes in popular attitudes — we could end up with such a bigoted administration?

It is not because the people have gone backwards — only around a quarter of adults voted for Trump. It is because the capitalist economic and political system is designed to serve the billionaire class and lock out the people’s voices. The corporate-controlled media and political parties elevates bigots who scapegoat vulnerable communities, while suppressing movements that offer real solutions to the crises of housing, jobs, health care, racism and sexism, and anti-LGBTQ bigotry.

Capitalism is not serving the LGBTQ community. It has taken decades to win the most basic rights to live free from bigotry and discrimination, and those rights are under attack. The overwhelming number of LGBTQ people are part of the working class, and face all the same problems of other workers: constant economic insecurity, stagnant wages, cutbacks, rising rents, and temporary work (which is 94 percent of all new jobs). 

The Trump administration’s new proposed budget would slash programs for the poor, from health care, nutritional assistance and food stamps and other vital areas such student loan relief, class-size reduction, and disability payments. The $800 billion cut to Medicaid would be a death sentence for people in poverty.

It includes a $300 million proposed cut to an HIV/AIDS relief program, which allowed over 1 million babies to be born HIV-negative to HIV-positive women around the world.

These reactionaries, whose hatred of queer people is matched by their contempt for women and communities suffering under the boot of white supremacy, want to increase their profits by stealing from the public sector. They want to turn back the clock of social progress. The Trump administration deleted the LGBTQ page on the White House site, repealed federal guidelines protecting transgender youth in schools and signed an executive order helping right-wing religious non-profit organizations fund campaigns against LGBTQ rights. 

What can the LGBTQ community do to counter this bigoted attack? The answer can be found by looking at how the community has achieved so much. From overturning the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness defined by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to the Supreme Court ruling decriminalizing same-sex love in 2003 to winning marriage equality in 2015, it was the mass movement of millions of queer and straight people mobilized in the streets that changed society. 

 It was never about who was in the White House. In 2004, same-sex marriage was a “wedge issue” that Republicans used to get out the vote. Still in 2008, neither candidates Obama nor Clinton supported it. But now in 2017, this right has been won and few politicians dare to try and take it away.

 The majority of people now stand with LGTBQ community, and will not tolerate criminalization, fear and violence against it.

What changed society’s view of the community was the tireless spirit of struggle, from the Stonewall Rebellion, to the millions who marched at Pride each year, the direct actions by ACT UP against the Reagan administration, the national marches on Washington, and the hundreds of thousands of demonstrations, big and small in large metropolitan centers and small rural communities.

Federal, state and local governments and institutions implemented many of the legal gains won, but the decisive factor was the change in consciousness that came from the mass struggle.

What kind of movement for today?

While Democratic Party leaders have denounced the Trump administration’s attacks on LGBTQ rights, history shows the community cannot rely on the Democratic Party to advance the struggle or stop the Trump agenda. Historically, the Democratic establishment only speaks out about a movement once they see it as an opportunity to channel it back into electoral politics, an arena that is controlled and dominated by the ultra-rich.

What is needed to stop the Trump agenda and to protect the gains made by the LGBTQ community is a broad united front of all those communities facing attack from the bigots and the billionaire class.

We don’t need a Democratic Party-led effort to impeach Trump and empower someone like Pence, who would be the most extreme right-wing ideologue in living memory to occupy the Oval Office. Pence believes businesses should be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people, defends torturous “gay conversion therapy” and has insinuated that marriage equality would lead to “societal collapse.” 

In fact, a fighting, people’s movement in the streets could do much more than defend what has already been won – it could formulate a new program for the country that addressed the needs of the tens of millions, not the greed of millionaires, and force that program into reality.