I woke up to the news of the 2016 Presidential Election results this morning with horror. I was not the only one. Many other LGBT folks, women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities have reacted with the same horror and a very real fear of what a Trump presidency might bring about. Already bastions of hate and intolerance, including the KKK, the Alt Right movement, and other groups, have come out of the woodwork feeling validated by Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign and his unexpected election to President.
I rewind the clock to just under a year and a half ago when same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. by the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015. As LGBTQ people we felt we had finally arrived. Many LGBTQ advocacy organizations shut down claiming their work was done. The average, mainstream gay or lesbian person became more interested in wedding planning than in activism. Those already privileged in other areas of their life, ghosted themselves from coalitions and organizations of people fighting for other causes – women’s rights, the rights of people of color, trans rights, sex worker rights, religious tolerance, helping the poor, LGBTQ youth, homelessness, and many others. Once we received some semblance of rights, many of us didn’t care to continue fighting for the rights of others. Those issues were someone else’s problem not ours.
Up until a today, the biggest LGBTQ concern on most LGBTQ people’s minds was the Trans bathroom issue. Little did we concern ourselves that the achievements we’ve made in the past decade could possibly come tumbling down. Progress only moves forward, right? We have marriage equality, gays in the military, record numbers of LGBTQ characters on television, and droves of LGBTQ celebrities and even sports figures coming out of the closet or in support of LGBTQ folks.
The mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub last June was a shock and a wakeup call suggesting that prejudice still exists against LGBTQ folks, against people of color, and against Muslims, but did we really heed the call? Sure there were vigils and speeches and the forming of LGBTQ gun control groups, but a month or two later after the hubbub and after all the summer Pride festivals died down, how much have we really done to address the underlying issues that caused such a tragedy to happen in our country in the first place? How many of us have gotten involved in any kind of actual cause as a result of the tragedy?
LGBTQ folks are not the only ones who became complacent under the eight years of Obama’s presidency. Many believed with an African-American serving as President, that racism was a thing of the past. While we’ve never adopted the Equal Rights Amendment for women, many folks believed women’s rights were also secure.
With Trump’s election and his pending presidency, we live in fear. Will he reverse same-sex marriage? Will he close down Planned Parenthood? Will he deport immigrants and Muslims, and close the borders? Will he give huge tax breaks to the rich, while the poor get poorer? Do we really want someone that unstable to have control of military forces and of nuclear weapons? Will he continue to incite the anger, hate, and divisiveness we saw in his campaign?
What about all the people who voted for him? Does approximately half of the country really hate and look down on LGBT folks, people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, and anyone else defined as other? Were they just reacting to calls for sensible gun control and political correctness? Were they feeling frustrated and left out in a time when a number of minority groups celebrated increased visibility and increased rights? Could we really miss the subtle racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia brewing just below the surface of American society?
While I’m not looking forward to a Trump presidency, I hope we as a people can learn from the circumstances we’re faced with. Perhaps we will feel compelled to get involved, not just to secure our own rights, but to look out for others. Maybe we will learn to work together among our different disenfranchised or potentially disenfranchised demographic groups. Perhaps we’ll learn that an injustice to one group is an injustice for all. Perhaps the younger generations who grew up feeling they were totally accepted by society, will learn what the older generations already knew about prejudice and intolerance. Perhaps somehow they will become better people for it. Perhaps all those who voted for Trump will realize their mistake, when the people they love – their friends, their neighbors, their co-workers, and their family members, start being affected by his policies.
It is a dark day, and we do not entirely know what a Trump presidency will bring us. Until then, we must be vigilant. We must stand together and we must not go quietly into the night!
November 9, 2016 | Categories: Social Musings | Tags: Activism, Election, Hate, Intolerance, LGBTQ rights, Marriage Equality, Orlando, Pulse Nightclub, Racism, Trump, Women's Rights, Xenophobia | Leave a comment