Could gays and lesbians emerge as unlikely king-makers in Donald Trump’s quest to return to the White House in November?

The Trump campaign appears to believe so.

This weekend they’re deploying their most coveted and enigmatic asset — former First Lady Melania Trump — to headline a fundraiser hosted by leading conservative LGBT group the Log Cabin Republicans.  

This weekend’s Log Cabin Republicans event at Mar-a-Lago will feature an appearance by Richard Grenell, a former Trump ambassador and the highest-profile gay member of his re-election team. AFP via Getty Images

Despite the improbable target audience — Trump once joked that his former VP Mike Pence wanted to “hang gay people” —  the Log Cabin event is heavily laden with the Trump seal of approval.

Beyond the rarity of that Melania appearance, it’s being held at Trumpworld HQ Mar-a-Lago and features Republican heavyweights such as Richard Grenell, Trump’s (gay) former ambassador to Germany, who’s now serving as a semi-official shadow envoy championing Trump policies across the globe. 

Like women and African-Americans, LGBTs are typically viewed as hostile to a second Trump presidency.

According to a March report from advocacy group GLAAD, nearly 70% of us prefer Joe Biden over the presumptive Republican nominee.

But LGBT votes for Trump actually surged in 2020 — doubling to 28% since 2016. 

True, LGBTs currently comprise a mere 11% of the overall electorate. But that figure is expected to nearly double by 2040, according to advocacy organization the Human Rights campaign.

Which means similar upward swings by LGBTs could help both Trump and future GOP candidates triumph in battleground states like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania that are home to sizable urban LGBT clusters. 

Trump’s courting of gays and lesbians is nothing new. Back in 2020, his campaign mounted a dozen Trump Pride rallies to generate community support.

Tiffany Trump hosted one in Tampa, Kimberly Guilfoyle another in Minneapolis — with the entire effort overseen by Grenell, who became the first openly-gay cabinet member during his brief stint as Acting Director of National Intelligence in 2020. 

First Daughter Tiffany Trump campaigned for her father in Tampa in 2020 where she hosted a rally aimed at attracting Gay and Lesbian voters. Getty Images for amfAR

That year Grenell called Trump the “most pro-gay president in American history,” a label Trump later described as “a great honor.

In 2016, meanwhile, Trump went as far as to wave a gay flag at a campaign rally in Colorado, while he became the first Republican nominee to name-check LGBTs during his convention acceptance speech in Cleveland that summer.

Once in office, however, Trump’s actual record, say critics, was far less rosy. Within hours after being sworn in, for instance, he removed all mentions of LGBT issues from the official White House webpage.

His administration went on to reverse notable LGBT advancements in schools, the workplace and healthcare. Such roll-backs, suggested The Washington Post just days before the 2020 election, would push “the vast majority of LGBTQ+ voters [to] continue to reliably support left-leaning parties.” 

While most LGBTs did back Biden in 2020, more of them — as with Hispanics and blacks — voted Republican than ever before. And all three groups appear set for a repeat this November (a March poll actually showed Trump beating Biden among Latinos). For many LGBTs, at least, the question isn’t why — but, actually, why not?

With major civil rights like marriage equality now secure, many gays and lesbian no longer vote with their sexuality in mind. But many who do no longer see the Democrats as their logical political home base.

Progressive extremism — particularly Pres. Biden’s high-profile embrace of trans issues — has begun to alienate the American masses, gays and lesbians included. 

For the first time in nearly a decade, support for LGBT rights is falling: A 2023 Gallup poll found approval of same-sex relationships had declined by 7% over the previous year, while recent data from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute revealed waning support for same-sex marriage and non-discrimination protections.

While hardly massive, these numbers arrive amid sizable decreases in support for transgender-related issues — most notably, medical interventions for gender-dysphoric minors and whether athletes born male should be allowed to compete on female high school and college sports teams. 

Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Donald Trump, Jr., held a rally to woo LGBT support for the Trump Campaign in Minnesota in 2020. Paulette Martin / SplashNews.com

The data is clear: Most Americans say no. And this includes increasing numbers of gays and lesbians who are no longer convinced the L, G and B still belong with the T. Throw in the “Q” for queer — despite Hamas’ homophobia, many queer folks remain heavily invested in violent anti-Israel protests — and old-fashioned gays and lesbians might easily view Trump with fresh (and even favorable) eyes.

Ever canny and crafty, Trump has seized upon this growing community divide to advance his own interests. But he did not create this friction nor can he be faulted for exploiting it — that’s what politicians do.

Melania may make for an easy target this weekend at Mar-a-Lago; but, while progressives bemoan her husband’s LGBT record, moderates might actually see something else: A movement mature enough to finally separate identity from politics.

dkaufman@nypost.com

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