You Must Vote for Hillary

You have no choice but to vote for Hillary Clinton for president. Your very life depends on it.

It is often said that one thing that we as a community learned from the AIDS epidemic was that we had to figure out how to organize because we were fighting for our lives. We have a new generation that does not know what that time was like, what that statement meant, or how it shadows this election.

The LGBT community of the 1980s was one in sheer shock. Gay men were dying and no one seemed to care, and some officials went so far as to suggest that we should quarantine gay men. Some religious people suggested that AIDS was a message from God. Those in the medical sciences were not sure what they should do. And why?

Because leadership from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health did not feel that they should act quickly in a time of a major health issue. And that was because they heard only silence from elected officials, namely President Ronald Reagan. Even Reagan’s own surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, admitted years later that he felt guilt for the many lives that were lost.

In times of crisis, a president can make all the difference.

What about today? We’re still fighting AIDS, and funds need to be spent to find a cure. Apart from the epidemic, LGBT lives are at stake in other areas.

Take, for example, Uganda. That country keeps attempting to pass legislation that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by the death penalty. What does it have to do with the election in our country? Donald Trump has been endorsed by the very evangelicals who support this legislation. To date, it has been only the Obama administration that has kept this from becoming law. If Trump was elected, do we want take the chance? We shouldn’t play with the lives of people in our LGBT community.

And how about here in the United States? Trump’s vice presidential running mate believes in conversion therapy. Conversion therapy — and let’s not mince words here — is the torture and imprisonment of LGBT youth under the false pretense that it will change their sexual orientation. It’s just the latest term of aversion therapy.

Still not enough?

When the Pulse nightclub was the target in June of what looks like anti-gay terrorism, Trump at first would not mention the word LGBT. Instead, he said he would not allow Muslims into our country. The fact that the man who did this was a Muslim was all he cared about — as well as making a few campaign points. He did not care about our lives.

Trump then said he’d stop gay terrorists from coming into this country. What about the anti-gay terrorists who are Americans? Oh, he’s standing on a stage with them, shaking their hands and accepting their endorsements.

Vote like your lives depend on it. They do.

Mark Segal is the nation’s most award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, “And Then I Danced,” is available at your favorite bookseller.