Longtime activist and political operative David Mixner, who is staging an autobiographical show in Los Angeles next week to benefit the Point Foundation, says that if the Supreme Court rules later this month that states cannot prevent same-sex couples from marrying, the LGBT movement will still face significant challenges.
“I think we are going to see a little bit of a backlash,” he tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in hate crimes directed against us. And so we have a long ways to go, but let me not kid you. This last couple of years has been epic in our history. It has been built on the back of a trail of tears and the sacrifice of many men and women, and I just consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world that I might just see it happen.”
In his show, “Oh, Hell No!,” which he performed last year in New York and will take to other cities like Atlanta later this year, Mixner tells of his life as an activist, including the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. When he first staged the show in October, he revealed that he assisted in the suicide of eight gay men who were dying of AIDS, which he says he and others saw as a way of letting those who were suffering die with dignity.
He also helped to convince Ronald Reagan in 1978 to oppose a California initiative that would have banned gay and lesbians from teaching in public schools, and worked with Bill Clinton as he became the first major presidential candidate to embrace the gay and lesbian community as he ran for office in 1992. But in 1993, Mixner, then a campaign consultant, publicly opposed the Clinton administration’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and even was arrested at a protest against it. He was shunned by the Clinton team.
“They made it impossible for me to work for four years,” Mixner says. “I was banned from the White House, but interestingly enough, I didn’t get much support from the [LGBT] community. But that is OK, because I had to do what I thought was right.”
Mixner talks about meeting in 1978 with Ronald Reagan, then the former governor of California, whom he says was “one of the most gracious men in politics I have ever met.”
“Right up front he said, ‘Look, I am probably going to endorse this initiative,'” Mixner recalls. “And then we had a long conversation and he was open to change. And then he listened to our case and he changed his mind.”
As president, Reagan’s administration was harshly criticized for being slow to act on the AIDS crisis, which Mixner has attributed to the influence of the religious right.
Mixner talks about the challenges ahead for the LGBT movement, in which he predicts social conservatives will find “innovative” ways to resist marriage equality.
Candidate Pop Quiz
Comedian Ben Gleib, host of Game Show Network’s “Idiotest” and the podcast “Last Week on Earth,” talks about the pop culture sensibilities of the emerging crop of presidential candidates. With Mike Huckabee’s remarks about transgender students, and Bernie Sanders’ comparisons of his past life of writing erotic fiction to that of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Gleib says that it looks to be a ripe cycle for comic material.
Gleib says that of all the candidates, Rand Paul has been a “breath of fresh air.”
The Mix: Caitlyn Jenner and the Politics of the Moment
Brent Roske, host of Roske on Politics for the Des Moines Register, and Variety‘s David Cohen talk about how cultural moments like the debut of Caitlyn Jenner have had an impact on the presidential race. Some candidates have found themselves tripping up in trying to prove their awareness of pop culture.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.