As campaign-weary voters braced themselves for another presidential debate, RuPaul and the cast of Drag Race season #12 took to YouTube to urge us all to “Vote. For. Your. Life.” For the record, this is not hyperbole. With less than two weeks to Election Day, here are our thoughts on the candidates, the election, and voting:
- Despite what some conservative groups would like us to believe, all parties are not equal when it comes to gay rights. Whatever they may say, actions speak louder than words. LGBTQ Nation has recorded almost 200 separate anti-LGBTQ actions by the federal government since Trump took office.
- Meanwhile, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have embraced gay rights both in principle and in legislative priority. Among many other positives, Biden supports the Equality Act, which would provide explicit federal protection against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The Human Rights Campaign has summarized Biden’s positions on LGBTQ issues here.
- As reported earlier, more than 500 LGBTQ candidates are running for all levels of office nationwide. The LGBTQ Victory Fund has compiled a list of some 300, which is searchable by state, party, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other criteria. Find your local candidates now!
- Vote early and in person if you can: “Unusual mail delays have persisted into October,” writes The New York Times, and voting by mail may no longer be reliable. If you can’t vote in person, deliver your ballot by hand to a drop box run by your local election board. This is especially important if you live in a swing state.
- Don’t delay! Registration deadlines in some states are approaching. Go to iwillvote.com for information on registration, polling places and schedules, and locations of ballot drop boxes.
Meanwhile, James Finn points out that Amy Coney Barrett’s use of the term sexual preference wasn’t the only troubling feature of her Senate testimony. Barrett actually lied when she said she has never discriminated against people based on sexual orientation: “As The Guardian reports, she is a member and former leader of the People of Praise, a religious organization that expels people in same-sex relationships.” If that’s not discrimination, we don’t know what is.
And with Betsy DeVos as education secretary and justices like Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and likely Barrett, it is no wonder that a new report from GLSEN found that 69% of LGBTQ students in U.S. experienced verbal harrassment, 26% experienced physical harrassment, and 11% were physically assaulted. This is wrong. So we love it when straight allies take up the rainbow banner, as recently when 100 boys in Quebec wore skirts to school in protest of homophobia and sexism.
In art, Melissa Ianniello “investigates the double taboos of homosexuality and old age” through painterly photographs of older gay couples in Italy. Artist James Nares is fabulous in this plague-time conversation with Julian Schnabel. And Sunil Gupta introduces us to Gay India in From Here to Eternity, on view at The Photographers’ Gallery in London through January 24.
In film and video, Billy Porter narrates EQUAL starting tomorrow on HBO Max, telling the early history of gay rights in the United States from the Mattachine Society through Stonewall. And George Takei speaks about resilience, which he learned from his father during their imprisonment in an internment camp for Japanese-American citizens during World War II.
And, alas, we may have to give up glitter, which “can wreak havoc on life in rivers and lakes.” Blame a study in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, which found that “the presence of glitter halved the root length of common duckweed…while levels of chlorophyll in the water were three times lower than in control conditions, indicating reduced levels of phytoplankton.” Then again, glitter is of less use in quarantine than Worldwide Roar’s 2021 calendar, which is now available on their web site; you may know WR better as the Warwick Rowers.
Illustration cropped from George Caleb Bingham, The County Election, 1852 (St. Louis Art Museum)