The election of Donald Trump set off panic for many people within the LGBTQ community. Most of the panic stems from uncertainty about how close Trump will stand by the promises he made during his presidential campaign. In this story, Danielle Oliveira sat down with Dereck Dalonges and Robert Lanneci in an effort to have an open conversation about their concerns as members of the LGBTQ community.
Montclair State juniors Robert Ianneci, a psychology major, and Derek Dalonges, a public relations major, transferred this year from the County College of Morris. In addition to settling into their new niches as Red Hawks, both students are also easing into the potential effects of a new presidency—one which has stimulated much concern by this couple that belongs to the LGBTQ community.
On Thursday night, I met up with them at Ianneci’s house, a very welcoming and cozy environment where I sunk into a plush armchair in the corner of his bedroom. On the desk to my left rested an assortment of framed pictures of the two.
“We’ve been dating since Oct. 1, 2015,” remarked Ianneci .
Once settled, I asked them what President Donald Trump has said or done to conjure fear within them as members of the LGBTQ community.
“What hasn’t he done?” replied Dalonges. “For me, it’s all about actions. Trump offers no security for my sexuality because he hasn’t executed any action. He’s all words.”
He continued, “Someone like Hillary Clinton though, isn’t all talk. She offers more security because of her actions.” Dalonges alluded to Clinton marching in the Pride parade in NYC in June, making her the first presidential candidate from a major political party to participate in a Pride parade.
“She took her time during her political campaign to go, and her presence there showed she wanted to be there because someone who’s that busy has to plan things out. It means her team is looking at all of the issues and is making us a priority.”
He added, “Where was Trump that day? Sitting in Trump Tower.”
Dalonges further elaborated on such sentiments when I inquired about Trump’s nomination acceptance speech where he pledged to protect the community from violence and oppression, making him the first Grand Old Party nominee to mention the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer community in an acceptance speech.
Additionally, Trump vowed to keep former President Barack Obama’s 2014 LGBTQ worker protections, claiming no further plans for an executive order.
“Granted he said those things, but again, it’s all talk and no action,” replied Dalonges. “It’s like rolling a ball. The ball is only going to roll if you keep pushing it. He’s going to stop rolling the ball. He might not change anything. He might not push the ball backwards, but he’s not going to roll it forward either.”
Ianneci then chimed in.
“What did it for me was when Trump nominated former Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, as his vice president. Pence orchestrated one of the original statewide religious freedom laws that allowed anti-LGBTQ housing and employment discrimination in the name of religious freedom.”
Ianneci continued, “If Pence supported this in Indiana, who knows where it can go from here now that he’s VP. Possibly, it’s just a matter of time before his philosophy reaches the national level. If it does, it’s going to institute a huge divide—”
“It’s going to put a wall,” interrupted Dalonges, chuckling lightly.
“It really is though!” exclaimed Ianneci. “It’s so scary to think that my sexuality can potentially stop me from progressing in my life. If that’s the future, then what’s the point of what I’m doing now in school? What’s the point of doing anything? If something like that can stop me from being successful, then what’s my purpose here?”
Pence aside, Ianneci also expressed his fear about Trump’s philosophy and how it too is leaking into American society.
“Statistical studies show it’s becoming more socially acceptable to discriminate because of things Trump’s said,” explained Ianneci.
Dalonges nodded in agreement, adding, “Many have that voice in the back of their head. Those voices have been regressed for eight years with Obama in office because we had a whole different set of morals and social norms that we followed. With Trump, it’s giving people with those discriminatory voices validity because those ideas just got elected as president. It’s making them think they can say whatever they want.”
He explained, “For example, after inauguration day I commented on a Cosmopolitan Instagram post that advocated the women’s march. Cosmo liked my comment. After that someone direct messaged me, ‘he’s our president now, you have to deal with it you small ass dick bitch faggot,’ then proceeded to comment on two of my pictures with my boyfriend [saying,] ‘you look like such a little bitch, you faggot. Look at your faggot ass.'”
“That’s the voice of politics. That’s the voice of Donald Trump.”
Recollecting himself, Dalonges took a breather. Ianneci cleared his throat and concluded that “this is the time for our community to band together.” He continued, “Whether it be on the Montclair [State] campus or not, we need to help each other, support each other, [and] encourage each other.”
Dalonges added, “No one is alone. And you don’t ever have to be. I feel like that’s the best kind of hope. Knowing you aren’t going through it by yourself.”