I woke up this morning with heavy feelings of sadness, despair, confusion and isolation. The United States has elected Donald J. Trump to the presidency and Michael Pence as his number two. This scenario seems incredibly surreal to me and let me explain why.
I am a 21 year-old college senior. I am a queer white man. As I’ve gone through my life I have been ridiculously lucky. I grew up in an area that tends to be more liberal—my home county was one of the few blue sapphires throughout a ruby red state. My parents are both psychologists and raised all of their children to be accepting and respectful. When I came out my mother said she had figured and after one awkward conversation with my father, there was nothing more to it. They love and support me. The same goes for my sisters.
Although I never faced physical violence, verbal aggressions were not entirely uncommon. I was called a fag throughout middle school, shamed myself into becoming a bully, and then when I finally had the courage to come out I was told that if I was more flamboyant, certain “friends” would stop hanging out with me.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
When I moved to Missouri I began meeting more and more people who had been subjected to physical and verbal abuse from peers, family, and even strangers. I met people who were disowned by their family. I hear the countless stories of oppression, from not being allowed to use a bathroom to mass shootings in queer spaces. When I ride the train home from PrideFest, I see, and have been one of the young adults slowly taking off their rainbow accessories because now that they have left the safety of the festival, they’re trying to get home safely.
Every person in our community has had their experiences trivialized; equating the pain felt by Kim Davis for being forced to approve a marriage license to the pain Matthew Shepard felt when he was physically beaten, tortured and left for death. People don’t believe that LGBTQIA people are not a protected class federally or in over half of the states, but think because gay marriage is now legal, the fight is over. It’s not.
So what does this have to do with the outcome of the 2016 election? Well, Donald Trump will have the power to appoint at least one Supreme Court judge, if not more. He has vowed to pick a conservative with hopes of overturning marriage equality. Meanwhile, Mike Pence, our soon to be VP, wanted to use HIV/AIDS research money to fund conversion therapy as well as supporting anti-LGBTQIA “Religious Liberty” laws in Indiana.
As stated before, I am white. I cannot even fathom the fear and sadness being felt by my POC peers, especially those in the queer community right now. Trump could easily start a war or even something resembling a second holocaust. As I await my pink triangle to arrive with the armed men who will be escorting me to my designated camp, I am terrified.
Of course there is the possibility that Trump will not follow through on anything he has supported, seeing as he contradicts himself regularly. There is the possibility that, just as with several previous presidents, the house and the senate will not allow him to do anything terribly harmful (with that said, both the house and senate will be controlled by the republicans). There is the possibility that all of my non-white, non-straight, non-christian, differently abled and female friends and I are overacting and nothing will change. Part of my fear, however, comes from the fact that we really have no way of knowing.
So from here on out all I can suggest is this:
We must continue to fight and stand together. Community is one of the most important things we have right now. Community is where we can start to find comfort. We must stand with our LGBTQIA, POC, female, Muslim and special needs communities. We need to support any typically oppressed group. We have fought and defended ourselves for centuries. We will not and cannot stop now. Whatever happens from this point forward, we are all united. If we go down, we will go down fighting together. When we rise up, we will rise together. We have to lick our wounds and then do everything we can to protect our communities. We have to pave a safer path for those that follow us. Next election, do everything you can. Help register people to vote, help educate people on candidates and issues, drive a shuttle to and from voting locations, and most importantly, vote! For now, take a deep breath. We can do this. I know we can.