In the past decade, queer Americans have won amazing fights from Supreme Court decisions to electing some historic firsts to public office. Since 2009, public support for LGBT rights has skyrocketed — until now.
Overall support of LGBT rights has dropped by 1% over the last two years, according to data from the Pew Research Center. More jarringly, though, is data from a Harris poll commissioned by GLAAD that found that among younger Americans aged 18-34, 36% would find it uncomfortable learning a family member was queer. That’s a marked rise from 29% in 2018. Of males alone, the increase in that discomfort was 11% — from 32% to 43% in just one year.
Further, 39% were uncomfortable learning their child was taught about LBGT history in school — up from 30% last year — and 34% would be uncomfortable with a queer doctor, up from 27%. There’s also been a sharp decline in Americans believing LBGT people face discrimination.
These statistics are alarming for a few reasons. There’s a perception that demographics are destiny, and therefore that the support of young people promises an egalitarian future for queer Americans. But data released this Pride Month suggests that support is eroding.
And there are very real threats faced by the queer community. Not only are neo-Nazis showing up at Pride celebrations, but the stark reality is transgender Americans — particularly those of color — are murdered at an alarming rate. Some voices on the right have redefined LGBT as “Liberty, Guns, Beer, and Trump.” And the Trump administration has only fanned the flames consuming the queer community.
From jokes about how Mike Pence wants us all dead to efforts to literally erase all mention of transgender people that led to a spike in calls to trans suicide hotlines, Trump has pushed an anti-queer agenda. This bigotry, however, has been largely ignored by media for his other, more bombastic actions against marginalized communities.
But the GLAAD survey found that the Trump administration’s homophobia and transphobia has been a contributing factor to the erosion of support for queer Americans.
And that erosion isn’t only in public support polling. It could come in the form of overturning the seminal win for LBGT rights of the last decade — gay marriage. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently explicitly invited challenges to the 2014 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that granted gay Americans the right to marry, and in his confirmation hearing, Justice Brett Kavanaugh refused to declare Obergefell settled law, also encouraging efforts to overturn the decision.
Pride Month celebrates the hard-won and long-fought rights of the LGBT community. But this year it’s more apparent than ever that the battle to be equal is far from over.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.