There is no doubt about how easy it is to leave. All problems remain in place while you move locations, or at least that is your perception. Mother nagging you about something? Go back to your own place. Significant other making life hard? Be single again. Job not working out? Get a new one. Move on, move to a different place, just move – it could not be easier. And as 2016 has become a memory and 2017 stares at us with all the ugliness it promises, moving on seems the best course of action. But I am here to ask to do something different, I am asking you to stay. I need you in the room.
I am a lover of politics, but even by my pragmatic and wide standards, the state of politics is ugly right now. Even writing those words hurts my heart a little. It shouldn’t be this ugly, we should respect other’s (differing) views and accept our political process as flawed, but ultimately sound. Now that we face a new president, one who has advocated so many hurtful and and scary positions, how could you not want to shut it all out. Here is a small list of things that might be possible under Donald Trump and are almost certain under the Republican led Congress –
- A list of federal judges and a Supreme Court Justices that would like to overturn marriage equality
- Delegating rights of LGBTQ people to the states, many of which have a poor track record.
- Same for trans and the so-called ‘bathroom bills’
- Projecting an image that allows violating women
- Cracking down on Diversity and Affirmative Action
And so many more. I have to pause here to say that there are those who will defend Trump, stating that he is pro-LGBT or that he hasn’t said he will do any of those things. Perhaps not personally, but all of his picks in the judicial and executive branch will do it for him. Discrimination by proxy. It sucks, I just can’t deny it. And that brings us backs to the leaving. It is so tempting, move somewhere else (a more liberal state or country), move perspective (BLOCK ALL THOSE TRUMP SUPPORTERS, pretend it doesn’t exist), leave reality (2017? Nope, never heard of it.) For some of us, for the really lucky ones, we don’t even need to leave. We ‘pass’. We’re white, and, you know, don’t ‘look’ like a queer, and no one knows that we are ‘sexual deviants’. Oh how easy it for us. We don’t even have to leave – we just have to stay quiet Leaving by proxy.
Here is what I am asking for everyone – stay in the room. Be there when the ugliness starts, raise your voice when fingers are pointed at those that are different, be there to shield those who will not or cannot leave Stand strong against those who ridicule, who insult and put down with quiet hate, racism disguised as ‘jokes’, and misogyny presented as ‘tradition’. It will hurt and be hard. But I need you to be in the room. It’s important.
That’s a hard ask, and I’m not done.
My second thing to ask is to acknowledge those who stayed. No need to ridicule those who can’t stay – they have their reasons. Those who remain in solidarity need no fanfare, but acknowledgement that they are there. You are a team, you are standing against hate in all it’s forms; white supremacy, altright, and whatever other names they can come up with. Acknowledge the team, and, you know, maybe a high five once in a while.
Last, take care of yourself. Queer, gay, trans, kinky, POC – all of those or none of those – you are important Put yourself first, take yourself out of the fight when you need to, and come back when you can. We need you, but we need you healthy and able to stand and fight.
These three things may make your 2017 more challenging than you think it needs to be, but we need to push back against this wall of…craziness that has become our country. I believe it will get better, but only when we raise our voice.
So even though you may want to leave, please stay. Stay in the room. The room can be your workplace, your family gathering, your city, your representatives town hall, even in protests and marches. The room is metaphorical. But it is filled with people who want to let hate rule. We can’t let that happen.
It’s easy to give up, to leave, but staying will give us power to stop the hate.
Stay in the room. I need you there. We need you there.
Happy New Year