LGBT activists on Trump's impact: 'We are at war'

By William Steakin

Jun 19th, 2017 at 5:45PM

President Donald Trump's relationship with the LGBT community is complicated.

During last year's election Trump positioned himself as a pro-LGBT Republican. On the campaign trail Trump promised he'd be "better for the gays" than his 2016 election opponent Hillary Clinton. The president even made history by mentioning LGBT issues during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

SEE ALSO: Trump called out for not proclaiming June as 'Pride Month'

But since Trump took office many voices in the community say their rights and livelihood have come under fire.

"We are at war," Ken Kidd, an organizer with direct action group Rise and Resist, tells AOL.com.

"We are under siege. They picked a fight with us and Republicans would love nothing more than for us to retrench and go backward."

Click through LGBTQ history makers:

In February, Trump rolled back protections for transgender students which allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. The move sparked outrage and prompted multiple protests across the country filled with chants of "Trans equality now."

Another move viewed by many in the LGBT community as a blatant attack was when the president rolled back LGBT protections in May by signing an executive order relative to religious liberty that pro-LGBT organizations say will only open the doors for further discrimination against gay Americans.

Trump broke with tradition at the start of Pride Month this year by not issuing a proclamation, a move Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, called "deeply disappointing."

But according to Kidd things could be a lot worse and just might be heading that direction.

"The only reason that things aren't worse now is because of the resistance," Kidd said, touting the work from activists and concerned citizens who are pushing back on the Trump administration through protests and social media activism.

"The only reason the anti-LGBT agenda has not gone further is because the LGBT community and our allies have been vigilant, vocal and on the watch ... we are not going to take it," the longtime New York City activist continued. "But it will absolutely will get worse," Kidd said. "Our community is under siege since no time since Stone Wall."

Click through images from LGBTQ protests outside Ivanka Trump's home:

Scholar and Director of Graduate Studies for Political Science at Columbia University Justin Phillips agrees with Kidd, telling AOL.com that while "it hasn't been as bad yet as I feared ... I expect things to get a lot worse, not better."

According to Phillips, it's likely Trump's fledgling approval numbers and popularity will be the catalyst for him to start making more aggressive and sweeping anti-LGBT moves.

"When politicians -- be them governors or presidents -- become unpopular they often they turn to rally their base and their core supporters. I could see [Trump] becoming more conservative on these issues as he becomes less popular."

According to Phillips, as the president slips in the polls it becomes more likely that he will take action to secure his base made up of social conservatives among other groups.

"I don't see Donald Trump making a move to the middle in American politics," said adding that if Trump were to utilize a "rally-the-base strategy" it could lead him to push more "draconian executive orders ... which is what I expect and fear."

In order to prevent the LGBT movement from losing ground after the most pro-LGBT White House in history under President Barack Obama, veteran activist Ken Kidd says leaders like himself need to remain involved and continue to make their voices heard.

"Harvey Milk said that the one thing we need to do is come out. This is a sort of coming out 2.0.," Kidd said. "We need to be more visible than we've ever been. We need to be more diligent than we've ever been. We need to be more educated and we need to be more thoughtful than we've ever been."

"We should celebrate the heritage of Pride and the gains that we've made. But we also need to stand and fight to hang onto them and fight for our future."

Images from LGBTQ Pride month 2017:

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