DNA Magazine - - NEWS FEATURE -

Hus­sain is a first-gen­er­a­tion Pak­istani-Amer­i­can, is HIV-pos­i­tive, gay and Mus­lim. He works at the LA HIV Law And Pol­icy Pro­ject ad­vo­cat­ing for HIV-pos­i­tive An­ge­lenos seek­ing le­gal as­sis­tance.

Is Amer­ica still the land of the free? Hus­sain: That the United States is “the land of the free” is an ori­gin myth fab­ri­cated by the white rul­ing class. This myth cel­e­brates ab­stract po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­ples like rights, free­dom and lib­erty at the ex­pense of ma­te­rial re­al­ity. Amer­i­can free­dom has al­ways hinged on the ex­ploita­tion and en­slave­ment of peo­ple of colour, es­pe­cially Black and Indige­nous Amer­i­cans. For the en­tire na­tions of Indige­nous Amer­i­cans ex­ter­mi­nated by Euro­pean colonis­ers, for the mil­lions of Africans en­slaved by white cap­i­tal­ists, for the mil­lions more Black pris­on­ers caged by the prison in­dus­trial com­plex, and for the thou­sands of un­armed Black civil­ians mur­dered by white lynch mobs and “peace of­fi­cers” alike, Amer­ica has never been the land of the free.

Do you feel safe?

Ab­so­lutely not. I have not felt safe here for over a decade. I have been de­tained and can no longer travel freely with­out the fear of be­ing de­tained again. My mosque here in the pro­gres­sive sanc­tu­ary of Los An­ge­les was the tar­get of a white su­prem­a­cist ter­ror­ist plot. Mosques across the coun­try have been burned and van­dalised. Mus­lims in Amer­ica live in a con­stant state of fear. At a fam­ily gath­er­ing last Novem­ber, fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Donald Trump, we dis­cussed safety plans and the im­por­tance of al­ways hav­ing ac­cess to our pass­ports in case we need to flee. But to where? My moth­er­land, Pak­istan, where hun­dreds of civil­ians have been killed in US mil­i­tary drone strikes? What if we stay? Will we be re­quired to reg­is­ter? Could we be in­terned?

Do you think LGBTI civil rights will be rolled back un­der a Trump pres­i­dency?

I think there’s a lot of hys­te­ria around the threat to same-sex mar­riage at the ex­pense of pro­tect­ing other rights that ac­tu­ally are on the chop­ping block. The Supreme Court’s rul­ing de­fined mar­riage as a fun­da­men­tal right, and since Lawrence v Texas (2003), anti-gay an­i­mus has been de­clared in­suf­fi­cient to with­stand even the most def­er­en­tial stan­dard of Con­sti­tu­tional re­view. Re­ver­sal on these two mat­ters is highly un­likely. How­ever, trans­gen­der rights are up for grabs, as these have been ex­cluded from the main­stream LGB move­ment’s agenda. Ad­di­tion­ally, Donald Trump’s prom­ise to “re­form” health­care and immigration laws is con­cern­ing to queer peo­ple of colour, whose rights are not lim­ited to just LGBTI civil rights.

Do you fear mi­grant Amer­i­cans may be sent back to their coun­try of ori­gin?

I am the son of Pak­istani im­mi­grants. All my fam­ily in the United States were ei­ther born here, nat­u­ral­ized, or are le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents.

We do not fear be­ing sent back. I do, how­ever, fear for my clients at the Los An­ge­les HIV Law And Pol­icy Pro­ject, which as­sists HIV-pos­i­tive clients from Mex­ico to the Philip­pines to Slo­vakia who are seek­ing asy­lum be­cause they are de­nied ac­cess to life-sav­ing med­i­cal treat­ment in their home coun­tries. Trump’s at­tempt to sus­pend the US’s refugee pro­gram casts a shadow of fear and un­cer­tainty over hu­man­i­tar­ian immigration pro­grams. For those who are here be­cause they can­not ac­cess an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment at home or be­cause they are es­cap­ing state sanc­tioned anti-gay vi­o­lence, de­por­ta­tion most cer­tainly means death. Has Trump gal­va­nized LGBTI peo­ple to fight for and pro­tect civil rights?

Trans peo­ple and queer peo­ple of colour have been gal­va­nized long be­fore the elec­tion of Donald Trump. Main­stream white LGBs were lulled into a priv­i­leged sense of se­cu­rity [af­ter the Supreme Court rul­ing on same-sex mar­riage]. Many of those main­stream gays are now “woke” and ready to strike back. The racist and sex­ist threats posed by Donald Trump and his cronies are not new; they’ve sim­ply come to a head in a no­tice­able way. The LGB com­mu­nity needs to build mean­ing­ful coali­tions with com­mu­ni­ties of colour and the trans and im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. Donald Trump did not win de­spite his racist and sex­ist cam­paign, he won be­cause of his racism and sex­ism. To guar­an­tee a pos­i­tive out­come in the fight to pro­tect civil rights from the Trump regime, the LGB com­mu­nity must dis­man­tle its own cul­ture of racism and sex­ism.

Donald Trump did not win de­spite his racist and sex­ist cam­paign, he won be­cause of his racism and sex­ism.

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