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14 November 2016

Only satire can save us from the horror of Donald Trump’s victory

My only advice to those, like me, worrying about the possible impact of the president-elect on gay rights is to use humour to counteract the gloom.

By Eleanor Margolis

For the nearly four years I’ve been writing this column, I’m aware that I’ve mostly been preaching to the queer. That, when I talk about things like LGBTQ rights, the words ping around the gay lefty echo chamber for a bit, before losing momentum. This time though, I want to talk specifically to people like me. I need a word. Straight people, by all means read this too – I can’t stop you – but please know it isn’t for you.

Last week, a person the colour of processed cheese, otherwise known as President-Elect Donald Trump, was given a mandate to potentially bulldoze decades of hard work for gay rights. For most of my life, the equality narrative has been comfortably linear. We demand a better world and, admittedly quite slowly, it’s delivered to us. Then we move onto the next thing. So what do we do when someone threatens to take us backwards? In recent years, we’ve seen this happen in Russia with Cheese Man’s new best buddy Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay legislation. We’ve also seen it happen in Uganda, with the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act. In both cases, many LGBT Russians and Ugandans —in the face of extreme violence — took to the streets and started demanding again. To be quite honest, I doubt I’d be so brave.

Even if whatever globule of arse sweat the US electorate just sent globule-ing towards the White House makes good on his post-victory promise not to repeal the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage, everyday homophobia and transphobia have still been given the go-ahead from the most powerful man on earth. Now, more than ever, it’s our job to counteract those sentiments. I have no idea what the big Gay Agenda plan is, yet. But, if anyone has one, I’m ready and willing to listen. And guys, there has to be a plan.

While those much smarter and braver than me get going on this, I’ll carry on thinking of how, in my own minuscule way, I can make a difference. My one piece of solid advice to all those as sick and terrified as I am is: don’t stop being funny. Queers are the funniest people on earth — let’s face it — probably because of centuries of being kicked around. They make us cry; we make each other laugh. Lest we forget, Trump hates Trump jokes. After all Trump is a Trump joke.

I know this is real life. I know funny tweets (although the gallows humour beauties in and around election night were something to behold) won’t alter the grim circumstances of minorities in the US. This isn’t about making light — it’s about coping. Satire has our back. Even while everything around us is crumbling like soggy shortbread, if we stop making jokes we really are doomed.

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