It might be seen as ironic that Rosie O'Donnell would move into Chicago's Trump Tower when she comes to town to film her new show for OWN at Harpo Studios next month, considering she's been in a public war of insults with him for years. Among other things he's called her "a loser," "fat" and "a woman out of control." Really makes you want the stay the night at his place, doesn't it?
But there's something more disturbing at the heart of this and it's Donald Trump's recent anti-gay statements, which were made as part of a discussion on his possible running for president in 2012.
Trump said he is not in favor of marriage equality, nor is he in favor of gays and lesbians having the same access to medical and civil benefits as straight, legally married couples. "I'm not in favor of gay marriage. They should not be able to marry... I just don't feel good about it. I don't feel right about it. I'm against it... I'm opposed to gay marriage." His presidential platform would then, obviously, be one against equal marriage; so why would any gay person, much less one who has had a tempestuous history with Donald Trump, want to live in one of his buildings?
Rosie announced that she'd be staying at the Trump International Hotel & Tower during a recent episode of her radio show, Rosie Radio, on SiriusXM. She called it "the most absurd place for her to live in Chicago," saying, "They got me the Penthouse at the new Trump Chicago. It's gonna be fantastic in a lot of ways. I hate him in an entertaining-not-real way."
Unfortunately, it should be a little more real for Rosie. As an out lesbian who married her (now ex) partner Kelli Carpenter during a brief period of legalized San Francisco same-sex marriage certificates in 2004, Rosie has been an advocate for equality. She brought a celebrity awareness to the ceremony, and took the opportunity to speak out in several interviews about the injustice she and Kelli faced as not only partners but gay mothers in the United States. On Good Morning America, she announced, "I am now and will forever be a total proponent of gay marriage."
It would appear that she and Donald, then, still don't see eye to eye.
Considering it wasn't Rosie's choice to be put up in the hotel, or so one could infer from her radio show discussion, it is then on the shoulders of OWN, possibly even Chicago's Harpo Studios, to recognize they are supporting someone whose ideals do not seem to echo their own. Both OWN and Harpo are owned, of course, by Oprah Winfrey, who has been a staunch LGBT supporter. Surely there are several other Chicago hotels that have a penthouse available for Rosie, ones that don't come along with putting money into the pockets of someone who is likely to use them to fund a presidential campaign working against equality.
Oprah's resident chief-of-staff Libby Moore is an out lesbian, and the newly announced executive producer of Rosie's new show, Page Hurwitz, is also out. Hopefully someone on staff can figure out a less "absurd" place for Rosie to stay while in town.
GLAAD recently put out a call for action against Donald Trump, asking for LGBT supporters to sign a pledge to Tune Out Trump. [Full disclosure: I am a member of GLAAD's Chicago Leadership Council.] To tune him out, this would mean the reneging of support not only of his establishments such as the Chicago-based Tower, but international real estate (such as the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas or Trump-owned casinos) as well as not tuning in to his shows such as The Apprentice or purchasing products like his Trump Chocolate or Tea (not that you were probably doing that, anyway).
But will Oprah keep investing in the Donald? Recent reports indicate she's reached out to him for an appearance on one of her final shows, but not to dispute his other insulting statements of late, discussing President Obama's United States citizenship. Instead, she wants to give him a makeover. While I agree that he could use one, I also think he could use someone as powerful as he is taking him to task.
I challenge Oprah, Rosie and the corporations involved to find another hotel to patronize in Chicago, one that isn't working against the same ideals they claim to fight for. And I challenge every other LGBT-supportive citizen to sign the pledge to Tune Out Trump, in 2012 and beyond.
Follow Trish Bendix on Twitter: www.twitter.com/trishbendix