Well, that was some truly weird shit. Last night, at the same time the Log Cabin Republicans were throwing a very sad party, LGBTQ activists hosted a pro-Trump event in a ballroom at the Wolstein Center on the campus of Cleveland State University. As Nick Pinto wrote at the Village Voice, the invitation seemed like it must be a hoax. It was not. The event was in fact a gay, pro-Trump, and enthusiastically Islamophobic dystopia.
The obvious irony is that the event took place at a time when the Republican Party is leaning as hard right as ever on LGBTQ issues. The party's official platform, adopted this week in Cleveland, "condemn[s]" the Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage nationwide and supports the appointment of judges who "respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states to decide such fundamental social questions."
The platform also includes a long tirade about the state of the American family, the "cornerstone" of which is "natural marriage." Here's just a taste:
Strong families, depending upon God and one another, advance the cause of liberty by lessening the need for government in their daily lives. Conversely, as we have learned over the last five decades, the loss of faith and family life leads to greater dependence upon government. That is why Republicans formulate public policy, from taxation to education, from healthcare to welfare, with attention to the needs and strengths of the family. It is also why everyone should be concerned about the state of the American family today, not because of ideology or doctrine, but because of the overwhelming evidence of experience, social science, and common sense. All of which give us these truths about traditional marriage: Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage.
The disconnect between the event and the platform was dizzying. So I asked a few attendees at the gays-for-Trump party last night how they can support a party that is so blatantly and reliably anti-gay. The answer basically came down to "just don't think about it too hard!"
One person who agreed to talk was Jeremy Wiggins, a 21-year-old Missouri delegate who supports Trump. Wiggins is straight but said he came to the party because "It's a really cool event and Milo was here." (That's Milo Yiannopoulos, the insufferable Breitbart editor who was recently banned from Twitter and last night wore a white tank top featuring a rainbow gun that said "We shoot back.")
Like most other young people, Wiggins didn't espouse the fundamentalist anti-gay views of some older conservatives. But he refused to concede that his own cool-with-gays views clash with his politics.
"Platforms don't matter," Wiggins told me. "I've never met anyone who's voted for a candidate by the platform."
Take this compartmentalization and combine it with Trump's complicated stance on LGBTQ rights and the result is a recipe for how some young Republicans are reconciling their own increasingly progressive social views with their party.
"I look at the candidates actually running," Wiggins said. "I look at the person, not the party. If you look at the candidates themselves, you'd see that Hillary Clinton has been much worse than Donald Trump [on LGBTQ issues]."