It’s worth noting that I’m not someone who gets particularly offended nor upset easily. Hell, I’ll push the envelope with my own jokes on occasion. I believe the concept of “safe space” is an important idea, but too often is misused by people to ward off opinions that contradict their own. I believe that humor can be found in just about any aspect of life—including sensitive subjects.
However, as I sit here reflecting on the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, I find myself at a rare, genuine loss for words. I’ll get the politics out of the way and let you know that I support select policies from both major political parties. Of my numerous stances, the only one immune to refinement is the belief that no amount of political disagreement should warrant disrespect for another person. We’re all shaped by different experiences which, in turn, forge opinions. You are the only person who knows what it’s like to be you.
And me? There are several words to describe me. College student. Guy. LGBT. First-time voter. But last night, two words were sufficient: Dazed. Heartbroken.
Let me be clear—this is not me taking a stance on the President-elect, who won the election fairly and is now deserving of the same recognition as his forty-four precedents. This is me taking a stance on systematic discrimination. I happen to be against it.
I feel strange talking like this. I’m not an activist, guys. I tend to operate under the idea that hey, I might think I know everything but I’m still young, so I should sit back and absorb different viewpoints. And I guess that’s why the past twenty-four hours have positively scared the hell out of me—because now discrimination is something that’s become a reality.
I don’t enjoy whining. I don’t even care to bring my sexuality into this, because I recognize that not everyone agrees with my lifestyle and I 100% respect that. But the facts are here, and the facts are that Trump has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn federal marriage equality, Pence is in favor of de-funding HIV/AIDS research to fund conversion therapy, and both have given support for acts that would legalize discrimination of LGBT people.
Bringing my sexuality into this clown show wasn’t my idea. It was theirs.
But let’s be generous for a second and operate under the assumption that none of these motions will make it through the red tape, and that four years from now, LGBT folks will have the same rights they have today. Because this is an argument I’ve heard from several friends: “settle down, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll lose your rights!”
They aren’t entirely wrong, but they are missing the point. The point is that there exists even a 1% chance that these harmful policies could become law. Last week, I found myself hoping that within a few years, being LGBT would be as not-a-big-a-deal as I would love it to be. But now I’m being told pull out the party hats my friend, because in a best-case scenario you *probably* won’t lose the right to marry someone you love!
Yeah, that’s just so fucking awesome.
And the problem is, for so many people less privileged than me, this isn’t just about being nervous that your rights will be taken away. This is about living in fear—anything from being physically deported to mocked and even harmed for looking or being different. There are already cases of parents instructing their children not to wear Hijabs in public for their own safety. The fact of the matter is, this is already happening. The worst-case scenario is already a reality.
Perhaps this seems like an overreaction to some. To them I say this: humans aren’t born with hatred. This is imparted in them by the world in which they are raised. A concrete example of this is my own grandparents, with whom I share incredible love but am strictly forbidden from telling that I’m LGBT. Why? Because “it’s not that they don’t love you—it’s how their generation was raised.”
So what, then, can we expect from the young people of today’s generation, who will someday be seated across from grandchildren of their own? What example is being set regarding what today’s American people will and will not stand for?
I don’t have these answers. All I know to say is that the first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one. To re-iterate, I’m not attacking any one person. I am, however, wholly and completely attacking those who entertain or in any way support the intolerance cultivated by this entire election. I’m condemning the disregard being displayed towards the human beings with whom we share streets, and schools, and holidays, and traditions, and this country, and the air we breathe. I’m calling out any and every person who refuses to form an opinion; who does not fundamentally disagree with these injustices to their core.
In my opinion, there is only one road to achieving progress towards acceptance. Whether this is acceptance of LGBT folks, racial minorities, religious minorities or the like, the solution is the same: make this acceptance normal. Live how you want to see the next generation act. Set examples that you want your own children to follow.
And most of all: if you know someone who has a dissenting political mindset but expresses this with respect, do not attack them. Respect them back. Unironically. Appreciate them for making the world more nuanced. But never stop decrying hatred, and never stop filling the world with the incredible amounts of love, respect and acceptance it so badly needs right now.
I love you all.