Onstage at Monday night's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump made an unforgettable entrance to an equally unforgettable song: Queen's "We Are the Champions."
But there's an irony that went unaddressed. Freddie Mercury, the band's lead singer, was a gay man who died from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1991 amid the epidemic of that disease that ravaged the 1980s and early 1990s.
Trump's running mate in this election is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a rock-ribbed social conservative who opposes LGBTQ equality and once said "societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family." When he was running for Congress in 2000, BuzzFeed reported Thursday, Pence's website advocated diverting funds from programs designed to help LGBTQ people living with the disease to groups working to eradicate their lifestyles entirely.
At the time, Pence's website said Congress should only pass the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program following "an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."
In other words, Trump's running mate sought to take money from HIV/AIDS programs and give it to conversion therapy programs.
Conversion therapy is not actually a form of treatment condoned by the mainstream medical community, but a form of alternative treatment widely considered a human rights violation. Instead of providing medical or psychiatric help to LGBTQ people, conversion therapy attempts to change a person's sexual orientation through a variety of sometimes forcible techniques. The state of California banned the practice in 2012.
Here's the text of Pence's website in 2000, as transcribed by BuzzFeed:
Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.
Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual's as a "discreet and insular minority" entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
One can only wonder, then, what Mercury would think of his music being used to prop up candidates whose work served to knock him — and others like him — down.