Campus Chat: Local LGBT University Student Reacts to Trump Presidency

BTL Staff
By | 2017-02-02T09:00:00-04:00 February 2nd, 2017|Michigan, News|

BY DREW SAUNDERS

Eastern Michigan University student Sam Jones-Darling. Photo courtesy of Drew Saunders

Donald Trump holds the distinction of entering office as the least popular incoming president of the U.S. since polling began. Trump’s approval rating dropped to as low as 36 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll, which shows that 44 percent of American voters disapprove of Trump’s presidency so far, with another 19 percent who are undecided over his first five days in office.
Most new presidents come with an upsurge of good will and enjoy high approval ratings in their first hundred days. That has not happened with Trump. BTL has met with local university students in and around metro Detroit to discuss their thoughts and feelings about what a Trump presidency means to them, which the publication will highlight over the next couple of months.
Sam Jones-Darling, a political science major at Eastern Michigan University said, “With Donald Trump specifically, I’m not that concerned. The reason why I’m not concerned is the man has no policy experience whatsoever. The man is a roaring joke. The man knows how to be a celebrity, he doesn’t know how to be a politician. He knows how to campaign, but governing is not the same as campaigning.”
Like many LGBTQ students, Jones-Darling was more concerned with former Indiana governor and vice president Mike Pence.
“The man [Trump] does everything off the cuff and I question whether he’s going to get anything done with Congress. Dealing with the New York City Council and dealing with the U.S. Congress are two different beasts,” said Jones-Darling. “My concern lays with his vice president Mike Pence. His whole career might as well be the road to hell is paved with good intentions. His moral stance on everything essentially decides his political and policy stance on everything. … I don’t think he thinks he has an anti-LGBT agenda until he actually thinks down and realizes it. But the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that has a detrimental impact on the LGBT community because we’re the ones specifically targeted in that legislation. That legislation in Indiana was specifically written for discriminating against LGBT people.”
In addition to problems with LGBTQ people and women, specifically, Trump took a whole 24 hours to decline the support of a former leader of the Klu Klux Klan. When asked if he thinks Trump is racist, Jones-Darling said, “I know Trump is racist. The reason I know he is racist is when your move into politics is to accuse the president of being from Kenya and not from Honolulu, we have a problem. Even after the president released his long form birth certificate that Donald Trump had wanted forever, he continued to make up conspiracy theories to why the president was absolutely not born in the U.S. Then the same conspiracy theories were used by members of the Tea Party to keep it going.”
He continued, “I think he’s more subconsciously racist and doesn’t realize how racist he really is, except for against Latino people. But the only thing that he’s shown about not wanting any support from racists is the KKK.”
When asked if he thinks Trump sees LGBTQ people as an easy target, Jones-Darling said, “I think Donald Trump knows that the LGBT community is not an easy target. He’s lived in New York the majority of his life,” he said. “He knows the power the community has politically, economically, and also in fundraising. That being said, I feel targeted by his administration because Mike Pence has targeted me and my people. It would not be wrong for the LGBT community to feel targeted because of the targeting his vice president has done. Moreover, his cabinet has gone from a basket of deplorables to a cabinet of deplorables.”
Jones-Darling said that as a political scientist, he felt sorry for Trump’s campaign staff because they had to constantly rewrite his positions.
“I can only imagine how they felt,” he said. “The idea that you could say anything you want and then have your staff have to put the car completely in reverse, turn around and drive back all the way down the street. That’s essentially what the staff had to do his entire campaign to save him.”
But none of this will stop Jones-Darling from living any differently during the next four years.
“One thing is absolutely certain – we’re not going away,” he said. “We’ve worked too hard for what we have and it’s taken us too long to do that whole two steps forward, one step back thing. We’re going to do the same thing we did during the Bush administration – we’re going to fight.”

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.