LGBTQ merchandise for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign


As President Donald Trump campaigns for the 2020 presidential election, he is selling LGBTQIA+ merchandise to cater to queer voters. Examples include “LGBTQ for Trump” t-shirts and “Make America Great Again” hats with rainbow lettering; Trump is even pictured holding a pride flag reading “LGBTs for Trump” during a campaign rally in Colorado.

New campaign clothing has sparked great controversy, as many queer advocates point to Trump’s policies as anti-LGBT and homophobic.

“The hurt that the Trump/Pence administration has brought to queer people is extreme, and the lack of ability for them to understand that is an example of how little the president understands his own position and actions,” said Sage Iwashyna, president of CHS’ Queer Straight Alliance.

In April 2019, the Trump administration implemented a policy many compare to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” regulation, which came into effect in 1993, but was repealed in 2010 during Barack Obama’s first term as president. Trump’s policy prevents transgender citizens from joining in the army, by making anyone who is on hormones or has undergone a transition unable to enlist.

“The refusal to admit bigotry is immense, and needs to be squashed as soon as possible, or the rhetoric that Trump’s policies [aren’t] harmful to the LGBTQ+ community will only spread and deepen,” Iwashyna said.

At around the same time as they enacted military policies, the administration also proposed expanding religious exemptions for businesses. LGBTQ advocates posited that this law would give companies more ability to deny people work based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Zeke Stokes, chief programs officer for the GLAAD — a group that attempts to further LGBTQIA+ rights — called this proposal “part of an ongiong and coordinated attack . . . on LGBTQ people,” and “a permission slip to discriminate.”

Individuals in the Trump administration have also expressed anti-LGBTQ viewpoints; Clarence Mason Weaver, a board member on the campaign’s “Black Voices for Trump” coalition, has a history of blatant and unabashed homophobia. He often uses twitter as a platform, tweeting statements such as “Homosexuality is an abomination. Not just a sin, an abomination,” “The ad was placed that way to make me think it was normal to be homosexual,” and “WHAT IS WRONG WITH BEING HOMOPHOBIC.” In one tweet, Weaver even reported home-schooling his children because he had to remove them from a place where he had to worry about “homosexual training.”

Looking back on the rollback of queer rights the Trump administration has enacted, Iwashyna recognizes irony in the Trump campaign’s queer merchandise: despite the anti-LGBTQ policies the administration has enacted and the homophobic people it employs, the 2020 campaign still uses queerness and LGBTQIA+ pride to imply their acceptance for the community, and to bolster the campaign.

“The tokenism and overall ignorance toward their own actions required to make merchandise targeted for a marginalized group that they have repeatedly berated, harmed, and discriminated against is astounding to me,” Iwashyna said.