The Rostow Report by Ann Rostow


“So we’re down to our last three months, everyone. I know that Biden has a good lead and I’m happy about it of course. But at this stage, Biden could be ahead by twenty points and I’d still be nervous…”


I just read my last column to make sure I don’t belabor the same issues this time around and I have to say, it was a bit of a slog. The writing wasn’t bad if I say so myself, but was it really necessary to spend 1,300 words talking about the High Court, Covid 19 and systemic racism? What happened to my signature light touch?

Now I’m operating from a list that includes the Supreme Court’s two opinions on religion and a repellent new human rights policy for our country compliments of Mike Pompeo. Oh, and ISIS fighters are killing gay men and trans people in Syria. Personally, I already condemn ISIS fighters for violent fanaticism, and I don’t have any extra disapproval to dispense on the homophobia score but there you go. It’s like learning that wolf spiders hate the GLBT community.


Mel and I are still distancing ourselves as we have been since March, and are now starting to rewatch the same Britbox cop shows that we first binged on some time in 2019 when we originally signed up. I don’t know what it says about us, but we seem to have forgotten most of the plot lines in this relatively short period of time, with the exception of “Midsomer Murders,” which we have seen on PBS for years. It’s bizarre, but you can show me the first one minute of any episode in the twenty seasons of Midsomer and I will be able to relate the entire story and tell you who gets killed and who did it. These are all permanently unwatchable due to this oddly selective ability of mine. Take that, Donald Trump.

Our Britbox compulsion is characterized by the frequent realization that we have seen one of the actors somewhere else, but can’t figure out where. Midsomer? “Grantchester?” “Downton Abbey?” It drives us crazy until we manage to isolate the actor’s name through time-consuming research and then check his or her other roles. At that point, we have lost the thread of whatever we were watching to begin with but we are content.

I’ve also read the complete trashy works of Kevin Kwan (the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy) and am about to start “Red, White and Royal Blue” which tells the story of the son of a U.S. president who falls for a British prince. I’ll report back on that.

Then there’s food and cocktails and MSNBC to round out our days. We did go to a boutique hotel here in Austin for our anniversary and had the pool to ourselves for a couple of days. We brought a couple of bottles of Bandol and Champagne along with a baguette and some smoked salmon and olives. Hey, it was 15 years. We deserved it.

In other words, we have no reason to complain, even as the virus rages through our city and state as well as yours in LA and California.  


So we’re down to our last three months, everyone. I know that Biden has a good lead and I’m happy about it of course. But at this stage, Biden could be ahead by twenty points and I’d still be nervous. Do any of you remember the Olympic athlete who was in some kind of event that involved skiing or snowboarding along a course and doing flips and so forth along the way. She was going for the gold, had one easy hill left, did a needless little trick to show off, fell and lost it all. I know Biden isn’t a showoff, but we still have some hills before us. Joe, just keep your head down and focus.

My perspective on the countless antigay and anti-trans shenanigans we’ve seen from this administration is now skewed by the looming election. I can’t worry about Pompeo’s new faith-based human rights policy or Ben Carson’s fear that “big hairy men” will overrun women’s shelters if transgender women are allowed to use female only homeless facilities. These travesties and all the others will be gone by February if Biden can finish the course.


Indeed, a Biden victory is by far the fastest and most effective solution to the sustained assault on GLBT rights we’ve experienced under Trump. Take the odious Mr. Carson, for example. After the High Court ruled that transgender bias was a form of sex discrimination, outlawed in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, House Democrats and others insisted that trans discrimination was also illegal under the Fair Housing Act, which also protects citizens against discrimination on the basis of sex. In a recent letter, Carson explained that his department was still intent on keeping transwomen out of women’s shelters, notwithstanding the High Court, because this wasn’t a question of workplace discrimination. 

Further, Carson added, because homeless shelters are temporary, they aren’t “housing” and are not covered by the Fair Housing Act. Without the new anti-trans rule, he insisted, any man could simply call himself a woman and traipse into the shelter. Carson went on to claim that the HUD policy “prohibits discrimination on the basis of transgender status as such,” seemingly implying that FTM transmen would indeed be free to take refuge in the women’s shelter while MTF transwomen could spend the night with the guys. (And Carson was worried about “big hairy men” in these female-only facilities?)

My point is, we have a Supreme Court ruling in our back pocket and people like Ben Carson are still squirming and mucking around, smugly doing things their own way with a smile on their pudgy faces and a middle finger pointed at us behind our backs. That’s why I have less patience for fighting these sycophantic toads and more interest in just winning the goddamn election and getting these people out. 

For the record, according to the New York Times, the ACLU and a group of 23 Democratic attorneys general have sued to block the Department of Health and Human Services from dismantling Obama-era GLBT protections under the Affordable Care Act, while other suits challenge civil rights rollbacks at the Department of Education, and of course the ban on transgender military service. It’s been going on and on, its tentacles are continuing to creep their way throughout the Trump bureaucracy, and if we don’t win this fall, God knows where it will end up.


This is what happens. I get carried away. I was going to write about a mean grocery store in Bumfuck, Pennsylvania, where the owner posted a 20-point manifesto explaining that masks weren’t required, the virus was like the flu, and that gay people help spread it. “A lot of these same people support LGBTQ,” wrote owner Mark Wengers. “This lifestyle is a sin in God’s eyes and spreads deadly diseases and sickness. Are they really concerned about people’s health???” Make that Mifflinburg, PA., where citizens reacted with a GLBT rights demonstration a few days later.

There’s also an antigay florist making a stink in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the happy news that Hallmark will feature GLBT characters in their Christmas movies for the first time. Some of you may know how I feel about that. Joyous! Let the bells ring! Mel and I will probably still be sitting here in December, sipping margaritas, waiting for bars to open and watching all seven seasons of “Prime Suspect” for the third time. But if Joe Biden is President Elect, and the gay-friendly Hallmark Christmas movies are running back-to-back, we’ll be fine. n