PROVINCETOWN — Mary L. Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man sold more copies in one week than her uncle Donald’s The Art of the Deal sold in 29 years.
That success put an end to the very private existence she had enjoyed until then. Being an out lesbian has garnered surprisingly little attention from the mainstream media since the book was published in July by Simon & Schuster. Trump describes her coming out briefly and matter-of-factly: her mother came over one day after her girlfriend had moved in, she told her they were in a relationship, and that was that.
In the book she also describes talking about Princess Diana’s funeral with her grandmother, who said, with some vehemence, “It’s a disgrace they’re letting that little faggot Elton John sing at the service.” Mary decided then it was better that her “gam” not know she was living with and engaged to a woman.
That’s about all you get in her book. But in the Zoom fund-raiser for the Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC) last Thursday, at which she was the main attraction, she had a very different audience.
“I’m sort of casual and straightforward about [being out] because I think that’s the way it should be,” she told about 150 people on the videoconference. “We need to be activists about it … but it should be a non-issue. We’re not there yet, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not pretending we are, but that’s how I handle it personally.”
LPAC was founded in 2012 to help fund and promote LGBTQ women candidates across the country. It began as an idea hatched in Provincetown by Urvashi Vaid and was then hashed out in Alix Ritchie’s New York apartment with a few other women. Since then, it has raised over $6.3 million and endorsed more than 150 candidates.
LPAC’s goal this year is to double the number of LGBTQ women in Congress in the next term. The Sept. 24 Zoom town hall meeting with Mary Trump was hosted by Hilary Rosen, an LPAC board member. Mary was eager to do it, said LPAC Executive Director Stephanie Sandberg, and the event was one of the group’s most successful fund-raisers of the year. Sandberg would not say exactly how much money was raised.
Mary was asked what she believes Donald really thinks about gay people. “I don’t think he cares,” she said. “I don’t think we’re of interest to him, except insofar as he can use being hateful toward the LGBTQ community ― taking away our rights with the stroke of a pen ― as useful to him.”
She noted that the president is “particularly vicious” toward transgender people.
“Donald is somebody who just can’t handle difference, and it makes him really uncomfortable,” she said. “His lack of caring, his discomfort with difference, and his knowing that being cruel really plays well with the only people left who support him ― it’s a trifecta, unfortunately.”
She is blunt about the dangers we face in these last weeks before the election. After his recent refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, she was asked how far she thinks her uncle would go to retain power. “Farther than you can possibly imagine,” she said. “We have no idea how bad this is going to get.”
Trump, a clinical psychologist, thinks people need to stop calling the president a “narcissist” and to focus instead on his bullying.
“Narcissism has a colloquial meaning that doesn’t get us where we need to go when talking about how pathological he is,” she said. “The bullying, on the other hand — first of all, it’s observable behavior. And second, it shows you how cruel he is, how un-empathetic he is, how sadistic he is, because he does take pleasure in that power dynamic. But underneath all of that, it shows you how weak he is. And that, to me, is the most important thing people need to know about him — that he is weak and terrified underneath all of it.”
She also had concrete advice for Biden in the upcoming debates.
“Call him ‘Donald’ — that’ll drive him crazy,” she said. “Don’t show him any respect. He doesn’t deserve it. I’m not saying disrespect the office of the presidency. I’m saying, to give Donald respect is to give respect to somebody who every day debases and demeans the office of the presidency. Also, don’t sink to his level. If he calls him ‘Sleepy Joe,’ don’t try to come up with a stupid nickname, because that didn’t work out too well for Marco Rubio, did it?”
Mary wants Biden to stay above the fray. “Be condescending, and every time you talk about something he did, say it is weak, it’s illegitimate, it’s unconstitutional, it’s incompetent,” she said. “Don’t call him those things, call his actions those things. Then you avoid being accused of making ad hominem attacks and you drive him up the wall. More important, because I have no faith in the moderators of these things, interrupt him and fact-check him. If he says something like ‘Nobody has ever done more for black people than I have,’ jump in and stop it. Because if you wait to respond, you let the lie sit out there and sink in for some people. He needs to be confronted in real time as soon as the lie comes out of his mouth.”
Her advice for the rest of us was also clear.
“Give, give, give, and fight, fight, fight,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to do, and this ain’t over by a long shot.”