It has been nearly two weeks since the United States held an election, which resulted in President-Elect...I don't need to say his name. You know.
I have rolled through all of the emotions over the past 11 days. I went to bed on Monday night, assured that when the time comes, I will be able to get married, legally, to my girlfriend. I woke on Tuesday, donned my pantsuit, and bubbled with excitement of hearing the words "President-Elect Hillary Clinton."
I went to bed Tuesday night stunned and terrified that when I woke the legality of my love would be in jeopardy.
On Wednesday, the sun did indeed rise. President-Elect, ugh, was not a bad dream. He is my reality.
And, some of you may be thinking, "What's the big deal? You can still have a ceremony." To that I respond, "I don't care about a ceremony. I care about parental rights. I care about family insurance coverage. I care about next of kin. I care about my wife being able to see me when I am in the hospital getting ready to go. It isn't about flowers and a white dress. It is about my rights as a human being to love and be loved, to have our love protected by the law."
As the dust settles, I have stepped back from my egocentric response and instead focused on how many people will be affected--how many people have been affected. Hate crimes have sky rocketed. This is a fact.
And, this, this is where things get sticky. I lost sight of how much hate there was in this world. I hid behind my liberal elitism and posited and postulated without shutting the hell up and listening. I tried to reason and to debate with those who shared different views from me. I didn't listen to their undertones of fear, of hatred sugared by, "Oh, no. I don't agree with what he says about ______ group. But economics? But Supreme Court?" (Fill in the blank with literally any minority group. And, like, literal literally not the fake literally OED added two years ago.)
So, when the polls rolled on in, that wave of hatred washed over me, and pulled me into the undertow. And, there I sputtered, drowning trying to find footing in anything solid. But, everything kept slipping from under me.
I swallowed their hate. It filled me up. I was...am...so angry. And, in one of my soapbox demonstrations (held in the cozy atmosphere of my living room to a single other person), I ranted, "I mean, I can't even. I have been going high and going high and going high for the past 6 months. I just want to dig in and really go to town on how this man has bullied, mocked, and flip-flopped his way onto this ticket. I am so damn sick of going high. Where has it gotten me? What do I have?"
And, my mother, ever wise, hugged me and whispered, "You have your dignity. You. Have. Your. Dignity."
And, I breathed for the first time in what felt like forever.
This is not to say that I will shrug my shoulders and watch this train wreck of an administration collapse. But, my mom refocused me. She reminded me that love always trumps hate. Love will always, always win.
So, what comes next. Now is the time when artists get to work. We are the voice of the people. And, the time is now. So, with neither pomp nor circumstance, an open letter to American citizens aged 18-really old:
People who voted for Trump but "didn't agree with his hate speech,"
You need to go to work. Right now. You need to stop hate crimes when you see them. This man has normalised racism. This man has normalised fear of the other. This man has normalised bullying on an astronomic scale. This man has incited the words of Richard B. Spencer, "America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity...It is our creation. It is our inheritance, and it belongs to us" (video of Richard B. Spencer's address to the Alt-Right party, The Atlantic). You gotta step up and say that this blatant racism cannot and will not be accepted by the Republican party. This Alt-Right movement has scary, scary resemblances to Nazi Germany. I have refrained from making that comparison, because it makes me want to vomit. But, when Spencer opened his statements with "Hail, Trump," I can stand neither idly nor quietly. And, neither should you.
Conservatives who did not vote for Trump,
We may not agree on a whole lot of social policies, but I recognise your economic platform as a reasonable approach to government funds (though I may disagree with them). But, take back your party. Let this man know that he doesn't speak for you or your party. This man is not a Republican. He jumped on a bandwagon driven by fear. You know this. Let your elected state officials know it. They must govern according to their constituents. Call up Paul Ryan and tell him that this man does not align with you. Tell him, or else he will continue to support this man's policies. He won't listen to me, but he might listen to you.
Take a hard look at how you've engaged in discourse. Was it respectful of others' ideas? Look around your world, your reality. Make sure that you are truly living according to the democratic idea. Are you helping those in need? Are you standing up for what is right even when it is awkward or uncomfortable? Liberal Elites forgot a huge section of people in this campaign. We forgot the blue collar workers who feel disenfranchised. Now is the time to push for real policies that will help even the playing field for them (not the pipe-dream promises this man has given them).
The 46 million people who didn't vote,
You live in a country that let's you have a voice, a say in who becomes the leader? This is not a universal right. Is the two-party system messed up? Yes. But, that does not mean that you abandon the system. Work to change it.
To the people who really and truly believe that this man is the best fit for president,
Please, look at the people around you. Look at the people in our nation. We are hurting. The aftermath of this man's election has raised hate crimes against people of color, against Muslims, against LGBTQ people, against women. We love. We fear. We bleed. We are humans. Please, please see us that way.