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Friday, June 16, 2017

A tale of two cities: for gayTrump supporters, it's the best of times, and the worst of times.

From RVA, an interesting report:

Hampton Roads Pride approves ‘Gays for Trump’ booth for Saturday’s festival

Brad Kutner
JUNE 16, 2017

Hampton Roads Pride’s estimated 30,000 guests to their annual LGBTQ pride festival this weekend will be greeted by a booth from a group of gay folks who support President Trump.

The group in question, Gays for Trump, was largely spearheaded by a 757 local, Scott Presler, who worked for the Trump campaign under gubernatorial failure and Confederate Flag fetishist Corey Stewart until they lead a protest at the Republican National Committee headquarters in DC prompting Trump to fire him. Presler most recently spoke at and organized an anti-Muslim rally at Virginia Beach’s Mt. Trashmore earlier this month.

Presler’s name is listed on an Eventbright listing for the Gays for Trump event at HR Pride this weekend.

The Trump administration, despite promising to be a “friend of the gays” on the campaign trail, has undertaken a laundry list of anti-LGBTQ actions, from rolling back protections for transgender students in public schools, to removing any mention of LGBTQ from federal employment policies, to removing sexual orientation and gender identity questions from the 2020 census, too being the first President in eight years to not proclaim June LGBTQ Pride Month… and much much much more.

A statement sent to GayRVA from Michael Berlucchi, HR Pride’s Board President, said Gays for Trump submitted an application and was approved “in accordance with our standard polices and procedures.”

“Hampton Roads Pride has a longstanding practice of welcoming many different political and community organizations to PrideFest,” read the statement. “We value our nation’s freedoms and tradition of protecting speech and the rights of individuals and organizations to express ideas.”

Berlucchi said a vendor’s presence at the event does not imply an endorsement from the group and that they hope folks will still join them at their block party tomorrow.

But for Norfolk activist and queer woman Elizabeth Gordon, Gays for Trump’s presence at the event marks a dark point in a festival that she has come to love.

“It’s not just tolerant, it’s not just accepting, its explicitly celebrating (LGBTQ identities) and it feels great,” said Gordon, in an interview with GayRVA, about her history with the event. She said HR Pride is one of the most visible organizations the LGBTQ community has in Hampton Roads, and to see them approve Gays for Trump breaks her heart.

“We need someone powerful to stand up for us. We face bullying, we face oppression, it’s still legal to deny us houses and jobs,” she said. “So to have an organization we count on to be a voice for the community just bend over and [abandon] what is their responsibility to stand up for us in a particularly dangerous time for us, it’s a real shame.”

Here's the interesting bit. Ads WLJ rported last week, Deplorable Pride, the #AltRight gay Trump supporters group headed by Brian Talbert of Albermarle, NC, applied for a float permit in August's Charlotte Pride parade as Gays for Trump.

But early news stories had a Greensboro, NC group called Gays for Trump- it goes back to the 2016 campaign- said the Talbert Gays for Trump group was not affilited with it, though its leader posted tweets on the Talbert's group's feed and gave news interviews supporting the Talbert group.

The Greensboro Gays for Trump has a page to raise money for pro-Trump booths, it says, all over the nation (left unexplained is why locals don't in classic free market fashion, raise their own fee).

Charlotte Pride has linked the shifting name game to its decision to deny a permit to Talbert's Deplorable Pride.

RVA's reporter links the two efforts:

Gays for Trump have tried to take part in other Pride events around the country, but were summarily denied because local organizers believed Trump’s actions went against the spirit of the event.

Earlier this month, Charlotte Pride in North Carolina denied a local chapter of Gays for Trump from participating in their event. They told the Charlotte Observer they reserve “the right to decline participation at our events to groups or organizations which do not reflect the mission, vision and values of our organization, as is acknowledged in our parade rules and regulations by all groups at the time of their parade application.”

And they have legal standing on the issue, albeit ironic. Back in 1995, the annual Saint Patricks Day Parade in Boston denied access to the Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston. The council in charge of the parade voted unanimously to deny the group because of the parade’s connection to the anti-LGBTQ Catholic Church, despite it working under a public permit and being held on public property. The Supreme Court upheld their decision, allowing them to deny LGBTQ Irish folks from participating. The church celebrated the decision.

But Berlucchi echoed a talking point used by Presler and other members of the growing alt-right movement when pressed on why they would allow a group that, even if unknowingly, is supporting a president which is suppressing LGBTQ rights: “We do not silence dissenting voices.”

Gordon questions that logic.

“If the KKK applied for an application at Pride, of course they would be denied, there is a line somewhere… if they have that line, why does that put Gays for Trump on the approved side?” she said. “Their line is to create a welcoming environment, but I think by welcoming bigots and racists… and approving them… if they’ve asked to show up and Pride says ‘yes, we’re happy for you to distribute your information,’ that’s giving a platform… to a group of people that don’t want us to exist.”

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