“Pull your pants up.” How many times have we heard this admonishment directed at young Black men? Even Barack Obama, in a 2008 interview with MTV, said, “Brothers should pull up their pants.”
Mind you, he did preface that saying “creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq” were the real issues and that laws against sagging pants were “a waste of time.”
But what he did not say was that laws criminalizing sagging pants were fully intended to give the police more reasons to stop Black men in a country that has, shall we say, a long history of criminalizing Black skin. The laws were more than a waste of time: they were fully intended to increase the criminal justice system’s ability to waste Black men’s lives.
So I doubt that Jerry Falwell Jr., the stalwart Trump supporter and Liberty University President, would have ever dreamed that the start of his downfall would be triggered by a photo of him in sagging pants.
Fallwell Jr. has been placed on an “indefinite leave of absence” after posting a photo on Instagram of himself on his yacht with his pants unzipped showing off his doughy belly and a bit of his underwear next to a young woman who is not his wife who also has her pants unzipped. His arm is around her and his fingers are very close to her breast. He is holding a drink in his other hand.
The caption under the photo reads: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”
Now, in case you were wondering why he would claim his drink was “just black water,” that’s because at Liberty University students are forbidden from drinking alcohol on or off campus, regardless of age.
Then there’s this tidbit from the student housing guide: “A student may not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in the academic classrooms or offices. Students may not enter the residence halls of the opposite sex. After dusk, a student may not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in any unlighted area, such as the ball fields, parking lots, parked cars, etc.”
But what if it’s not a student? What if it’s the university president? And what if it’s not a car, but a yacht?
It is unlikely that with Fallwell Jr. being sidelined Liberty University will somehow become a welcoming school that values diversity. They definitely don’t value LGBTQ students. The student honor code states: “Sexual relations outside of a Biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.” In other words, LGBTQ students are welcome so long as they remain closeted and self-hating.
Fallwell Jr. has been an outspoken supporter of Trump, claiming that Trump doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, which I actually believe because Trump is basically a walking bag of semi-sentient trash. It should be noted that Jerry Falwell Sr. was an outspoken opponent of civil rights, so something tells me that racism wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for Fallwell Jr. Especially since he said there was nothing Trump could do to lose his support.
Surely this photo mishap will only strengthen the support Trump has for Fallwell Jr. since they will finally have something in common. Whether it’s an Access Hollywood bus or a private yacht, boys will be boys, amirite?
Like attracts like, which is why the right-wing evangelical power players are so staunchly in Trump’s corner despite the fact that Trump sees the 10 Commandments as a bucket list and can’t cite a single Bible verse when asked, despite the fact that he claims he can not only read but that he has read the Bible.
The strict moral code that they espouse is for OTHER people. The Bible is only important so far as its passages can act as support for their push to hurt the people they don’t like and then claim those policies are protected under “religious freedom” laws that, strangely, never seem to apply to religions other than Christianity.
Fallwell Jr. apologized for the photo during a call to radio station WLNI. As @BettyBowers pointed out on Twitter, it was a morning radio show and Fallwell Jr. sounded very drunk.
In the call he rambled about how this woman was his wife’s assistant and that she was pregnant so he was joking around with her and that he never should have embarrassed her by posting the photo.
He also said, “I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Definitely something a grown-ass sober man says.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.