When senior Jacob Samples learned that Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States, it felt like a fever dream, he said. It didn’t feel real.
Samples, who is gay, expressed his concerns about what the outcome of this election could mean for the LGBT community.
“I just think this is going to change the course of America and democracy,” he said. “This is a turning point in history, probably for the worse.”
After the election of Trump, members of the LGBT community have voiced their fears about how his presidency will affect the future of LGBT rights.
While Trump did not emphasize LGBT issues in his campaign, the Republican platform includes opposition to same-sex marriage, support of conversion therapy, and support for laws regulating what public restrooms transgender people can use.
Samples said he is worried that such policies, in addition to limited protections against discrimination for LGBT people, could send people back into the closet and cause an increase in violence and the numbers of suicides.
“When people are upset about Hillary’s loss, it’s not just that our party lost,” Samples said. “We feel we are endangered now and feel victimized by a good portion of the American population.”
Sophomore Quinn Ashley, who identifies as nonbinary and pansexual and uses they/them pronouns, said they were surprised and afraid after seeing the election results. They said they are worried that hate crimes, towards both LGBT people and other minorities, could become more prevalent now that Trump has been elected president.
“Now, more than ever, we need to come together and let everyone know this is a safe space, that we’re safe here,” Ashley said.
Ashley is the student facilitator for the Gender Warriors student group, and after seeing the results of the election, they sent a message to the group’s members to show support and ask them not to harm themselves.
Ashley said their visibility as a non-binary individual makes them frightened of being singled out and endangered because of their identity.
The policies of Vice President-elect Mike Pence from his time as governor in Indiana are also a source of concern for Ashley.
In 2015, Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act to make it legal for businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on religious grounds. He later signed an amendment to clarify that the law does not authorize discrimination. He has also opposed gay marriage and non-discrimination laws for LGBT people, and he supports conversion therapy.
“He’s pretty much just as bad as Trump, but he conceals it more in the public eye,” Ashley said.
Director of GLBT Student Support Services Doug Bauder said his initial reactions upon hearing the results of the election were grief and despair.
“I’ve been disappointed at elections in the past, but when my candidate didn’t win, I at least believed that the other candidate had some skills and an interest in the best of American culture, even though our philosophies might have been different,” he said. “I don’t believe that now.”
Bauder praised President Barack Obama’s support of the LGBT community and said he predicts the Obamas will continue to have a major influence after leaving office.
“He’s been the most queer-friendly president we’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s been incremental, but over an eight-year period, more progress has been made for our community because he had an open mind.”
Bauder said he doubts marriage equality will be overturned, even with the appointment of a more conservative Supreme Court Justice. He said he believes there are too many allies these days for the LGBT community, both in Indiana and nationally, to allow much ground to be lost.
He is choosing to hold out for hope, and he wants to create an environment in the community and on campus to encourage students to work towards justice, he said. He has not stopped believing in fairness for all people, he said.
“We get hung up in thinking the only power we have is the power of the ballot,” Bauder said. “We have much more power than that. We have the power to influence people by our absolute kindness, by the words we use, by not being silent when something is said that we disagree with. We just have more power than we realize.”
Ashley encouraged people to look out for each other and reach out to minorities.
“We really need allyship right now,” they said. “We need all allies to come out and be supportive.”
Samples said it is important for people not to become apathetic but instead to actively participate in their communities to fight discrimination.
On Wednesday, Bauder had a message of hope, which he posted to his Facebook page.
“In my grief, I WILL not lose sight of the fact that I still have power and privileges and a faith that I can make a difference in the world. I WILL not stop being kind and caring and passionate about issues of justice and equality. I will remember that love needs us now more than ever.”