Metro Weekly

Sue Hyde: The government has “fully engaged itself in the process of erasing us”

Donald Trump is aiming to wreak havoc on the LGBTQ community, but the National LGBTQ Task Force's Sue Hyde is determined not to let him succeed

Sue Hyde — Photo: The National LGBTQ Task Force

“As LGBTQ people, we [have] a very well resourced, well organized movement that lives to erase us. That is still true,” says Sue Hyde. “What is different is that there is a federal governmental apparatus that is fully engaged itself in the process of erasing us.”

Hyde doesn’t use the term lightly. As the longest-serving employee of the National LGBTQ Task Force and director of the Creating Change conference — a networking event for thousands of activists that teaches how to better organize and fight for equality — she knows better than most the devastation the Trump administration can wreak on LGBTQ people.

Hyde was first hired in January 1987 to run the Task Force’s Privacy Project in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that allowed state anti-sodomy laws to stand. Not prone to hyperbole, Hyde says that activists have as much, if not more, to fear from the Trump administration than LGBTQ people did during the ’80s under Reagan.

“In many ways, there isn’t that much that’s different,” she says. “With the possible exception of the Jimmy Carter administration, prior to Reagan, there had never been a federal administration that cared a wit about LGBTQ people except to try and crush us. And I’m not even sure Ronald Reagan himself was that interested in that, but he did feel beholden to a conservative right wing. Even though I think he was personally actually repulsed by them.

“So now, we have returned to those bad old days when there is again a federal administration that is dedicated and devoted to erasing and crushing LGBTQ people, in ways that we had never before actually imagined. I don’t think we’d thought that we’d go this far back, that we would lose this much in one year of a Trump administration.”

Activists have lessons to learn from Trump’s presidency, Hyde says, namely that “freedom is never free,” and that it will take a great deal of organizing to win back what the current administration has taken away. “We have to be as equally dedicated to fighting for ourselves as this administration is equally dedicated to our destruction. A very good lesson would come from the HIV movement, which as it grew and developed, was hitting on every cylinder.

“We were in the streets. We were in the legislature. We were in court. We were in the media. We were in community meetings in our cities and towns. We were taking care of each other. We were seeing to the basic needs of people who were living with HIV and AIDS. And that kind of full throttle, every cylinder moving, every venue possible being occupied by our bodies and our voices and our thoughts and our ideas and our dignity, that same level of engagement is what we need right now.”

And that’s where Creating Change comes in: To teach today’s activists how to organize and fight back on a range of issues, whether transgender rights, immigrant rights, or anti-bullying policies in schools.

“We like to think of it as, in a sense, one-stop shopping,” Hyde says of the conference. “One of our goals with the programming is to offer workshops, sessions, caucuses and trainings in just about every topic area that an LGBTQ person might be interested in.

“Someone who attends Creating Change can expect a space and a place where people are consciously making connections with each other, learning from each other, and teaching each other.”

For more information on the National LGBTQ Task Force, visit thetaskforce.org.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com