I am gay, and I am petrified. But I’m not alone.
I ask one thing of people following the election results: please do not dismiss my fears. Please do not undermine how unsafe I feel. Please do not tell me I am overreacting.
Throughout this election season, I have been made out to be lesser. I have watched as people have promised to sign the Religious Freedom Act and First Amendment Defense Act if they are elected into office. I was scared of being a visibly gay and non feminine individual before hand, this fear has increased tenfold. Please don’t act as if that is not going to affect countless lives throughout this nation. I have watched as people have promised their support for conversion therapy. As people have essentially said, “You are gay, and you need to be fixed.” I will not apologize for my fear and my anger at the assumption that I need to be fixed. I have watched as a presidential candidate has said he would promote the passage of HB2. I have just barely become comfortable using Women’s restrooms. I have just barely gotten over someone forcing me out a bathroom with physical assault. Please don’t act as if I don’t have a right to be terrified. Throughout this election, I have watched nearly every minority group be dehumanized, and just this morning, around 3am, I was told our future president of the United States is going to “heal” these wounds as a nation.
Mr. Trump, the systematic dehumanization that has been promoted and used as a campaign technique throughout your journey to president cannot be fixed by a speech. The increase in bullying and micro aggressions and blatant racist, homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic, islamophobic, ableist ideologies you have supported cannot be fixed by a speech. In fact, these are wounds that will not be fixed in the next four years. Not by you at least.
You never had the right to use the dehumanization of me and my fellow Americans, but you certainly don’t have the right to claim you can fix it.
In fact, you trying to claim you can fix it is a terrifying example of privilege and oppression in America. Nothing spells out the dangers of unchecked privilege like a man who treats those less privileged than him like the scum of the earth, only to turn around and expect those “scum of the earth” to believe in his power to heal us and make us whole again.
Nobody asks to be healed by the gun that shot them.
Now, Mr. Trump, you and I disagree about the fundamental principles of this country. I believe in an America that not only accepts, but welcomes, “[the] tired, [the] poor, [the] huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (If you’re unsure of where that quote is coming from Sir, it is from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, and is found on the Statue of Liberty of these United States of America). I believe in an America that praises not only the ideology, but the practice, of the melting pot. I believe that diversity makes us stronger. Without standing together, we are at a loss to save this planet from the disasters that it faces (and no, those disasters were not created by the Chinese). How are we supposed to come together as a world for progress, when you have ran on a campaign centered around division for this nation?
Before anyone asks me when I’m moving to Canada or Ireland or wherever, please understand that I will be standing firmly on American soil. I will not let your beliefs become the fundamental values of your America, because they are not the fundamental values of the America I believe in. I will stand by my fellow Americans in protest whenever you try to take away fundamental human rights. You may have won the election, but you have not won this war you have been waging against those you believe to be lesser. I promise you sir, you will not win that battle. We will stand together, and we will make America great, but we will do it in the right way.
For the rest of us:
We will get through this. We will stand together and you will never be alone. You will have me and countless others fighting for our rights. Do your best to not despair and lose hope. I know it is hard right now, and I know it is scary, and I can’t tell you I haven’t fought those feelings as well. But a man I respect an awful lot told me, and the rest of America, “the sun will rise in the morning.” (Thank you for your dignity and grace Barack Obama)
And so will we.
We will rise in the morning and we will fight for the rights we know we deserve. We will rise in the morning and we will not only cherish, but fight for our humanity. We will not lose sight of our humanity. We will rise in the morning and stand together to create an America that not only tolerates, but values diversity. We will rise in the morning, and we will create a future for this country that our children can be proud of. We will rise in the morning, and WE. WILL. GO. HIGH.
Despite these difficult times, I ask that both sides do something for one another:
I ask that one side respects our fears and our pain. I ask that you don’t say we are overreacting. I ask that you acknowledge the areas of your privilege, and understand that effects how you view this situation. Please consider intersectionality and understand that these fears will be different for everyone. I will have different fears as a gay white woman than a bisexual white woman, a black gay woman, etc… Do not invalidate any of those fears. Do not think the underprivileged are angry at you for your privilege. We are all privileged in one way or another, and some of us have more privilege than others. This is not inherently a bad thing. People aren’t mad at your inherent privilege. People are mad if and when you turn a blind eye or disregard your privilege.
To the other side, I ask that we remember that building a future America that we believe in will need allies. I ask that we remember that privilege is not inherently bad, unchecked privilege is. I ask that as we stand together, we do not kick others down. I ask that we remember that people can change, and I ask that we embrace that change when it happens. Mostly, I ask that we remember how it feels to be dehumanized, and I ask that we do not dehumanize others in return.
Most of all, I ask that both sides go high.
So, Mr. Trump, you weren’t wrong when you said it is time to heal the nation. You were wrong in assuming you would play a part in it. The healing will be done by those who do not encourage hatred. It will be done by friends and loved ones and strangers who value kindness. It will be in everyday people, like myself and my peers, who embrace one another with open arms. I hope you do change Mr. Trump, I hope you learn kindness and appreciation for those of us who you have been dehumanizing for the past couple decades. I hope you learn respect for all the “nasty women,” all the “bad hombres,” all the “thugs,” all the people you think “need to be fixed.” I think we’re all capable of change, and I hope you prove that theory right.
But for now, please understand that I do not trust you to heal my wounds. For now, please realize that those of us you have dehumanized will help each other heal, and we will heal to be stronger than ever.
I will stand with America, but I will not stand with the America you believe in. I will heal, but I will not heal by “being fixed.”
I will heal with love, which in the end, will always trump hate.