GUEST POST: Why an upside-down rainbow flag is dangerous for LGBT people

Photo: AP

At a rally in Greeley Sunday night, moments after taking the stage, Donald Trump unfurled a large rainbow flag with the words “LGBTs for Trump” scribbled on it. That awkward and superficial appeal was made all the more absurd, and meaningful, by the fact that he was holding the flag upside down.

Upside down flags have been used traditionally to communicate danger or distress. And Trump’s stunt, clearly choreographed by his campaign as a plea for support to LGBT people, was actually another reminder of the threat his candidacy represents to LGBT equality.

The LGBT case against Trump could not be clearer or more compelling.

He has consistently opposed marriage equality, describing himself as “traditional.” And he has pledged, if elected, to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn the court’s historic rulings on marriage in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges.

He has pledged support for the federal “First Amendment Defense Act,” a bill widely seen as an attack on LGBT equality. FADA would allow individuals and businesses to ignore an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT people. It would also permit hospitals, shelters and other nonprofit organizations receiving federal funds to deny services to same-sex couples.

Trump has even said he would reverse President Obama’s executive order covering federal contractors – as well as other federal administrative guidance – that has extended protections for LGBT people.

Trump chose a running mate in Mike Pence who is nationally known for one thing only – signing Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that enshrines in law the ability for any business to discriminate against LGBT people for religious reasons. That law arguably was gratuitously anti-gay because it already was legal under Indiana law to discriminate against LGBT people for any reason.

And, for good measure, Trump oversaw creation of the most anti-LGBT Republican Party platform in history at their convention this summer. That platform embraces even the most extreme policies, including so-called conversion therapy – a dangerous practice that has been widely criticized by psychiatrists and banned in a number of states.

In fact, Trump’s lousy record on LGBT equality is so abundantly clear that not even the Log Cabin Republicans, often accused of putting partisanship over principle, have been able to bring themselves to support him.

Yet there he was, on stage in Greeley, surreally waving a rainbow flag and pretending that facts don’t matter, that we can all be deluded somehow into ignoring reality and falling prey to his spin.

LGBT people are, at least, in good company.

Trump asks women to ignore his lifetime of misogyny and sexual abuse and simply accept his assertion that “no one respects women more.” He asks African-Americans to ignore a record replete with overt discrimination and believe his claims that he alone can be trusted to improve their lives. He asks Latinos to forget his deplorable comments about immigrants and his questioning of an Indiana-born judge’s qualifications simply because his parents are of Mexican decent.

But, thankfully, we are not stupid. We have all heard the things Trump has said. We have seen the way he treats the most vulnerable among us. We have seen the way he has openly promoted hatred, divisiveness, and even violence. And on November 8, we can all deliver a message of our own to Donald Trump.

Photo credit: AP

Bobby Clark is a strategic communications consultant based in Denver. He previously served as Vice President for Communications and Programs at the Denver-based Gill Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of LGBT equality work. Bobby helped found ProgressNow, a progressive communications and advocacy organization with affiliates across the country.


  1. I read an article in which the creator of the gay pride flag said it can be put up in any direction you choose…there is no right or wrong way. It is just normally put up red on top.

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