That Time I Woke Up and Donald Trump Was President

This morning, I woke up in Myanmar to a world where Donald Trump is President-Elect of the United States.

Yesterday, I spent half a day watching the results roll in, reading post and tweets cataloguing the dismay and heartbrokenness and fear from many of my friends.

Particularly my trans, queer, and LGBTQ friends. My friends of color.
Friends with disabilities, immigrants, Muslim friends, women—anyone
Donald Trump and his campaign have managed to threaten, alienate, or
otherwise harm.

Harm: emboldening supporters to burn black churches and torch the cars
of trans people.

Harm: encouraging Islamophobia and fear/hatred of Muslim people.

Harm: violence done simply by words—and yes, words hurt.

Harm: categorizing as “less than” or “Other.”

Yes, he and his supporters have done harm. I have no doubt he will do more.

I shared this grief and anger. As the wee hours wore on in the US and early afternoon turned late in Myanmar, I was struck by suddenly not knowing what to do. Not knowing how to put one foot in front of the other.

As I told my friend and colleague Jane, it was hard enough working for LGBTQ rights and working to end gender-based violence during the Obama years (the bulk of my career).

What now?

 

This election, and all this victory stands for, hurts. It hurts me as a queer, gender non-conforming person. It hurts me as a survivor of sexual abuse. And I know it hurts and frightens others more—especially my friends of color and my Latinx and Muslim friends.

If you are one of those people feeling hurt, I want to encourage you
to grieve this loss and what it means. Those feelings are valid. And true. And real. And if you’re a hugger, I’m here virtually hugging you through them.

And share. It’s easy to feel alone here on a balcony in Myanmar crying my eyes out. I imagine it feels worse for many of you.

But know you’re not alone.

Reach out. Hold on. And hold each other tightly.

 

And then, let’s take that step, together.

We will do what we have always done.

We will draw more into our ranks.

We will raise our voices, louder and stronger.

We will listen to each other.

We will hold more protests and write more letters.

We will educate and call folks in.

We will support each other intersectionally—across issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion.

I’ll get your back, and you’ll get mine.

And when you need a break because it’s all too much, someone will be there to take watch. Because no one has to do this alone.

 

That’s what I’ve learned from this election. Yes, fear drives so many of us to close the borders of our hearts and minds, to protect what we think is “ours.”

But love is so much stronger. Stronger than an election. Stronger than whatever might come next.

Make no mistake: the threats are real. People’s bodily safety is at risk—and has been for a long time, thanks to systems of oppression that we have yet to dismantle.

But out of love, let’s get to work dismantling them.

Out of love, let’s protect one another.

Out of love, let’s open our borders and doors to the Other. Let’s expand the notion of what we consider “ours” and “us” so that we love and protect completely and fully—especially the most marginalized among us.

White people, out of love, let’s continue to dismantle white privilege and educate our peers and amplify the voices of communities of color.

LGBTQ allies, out of love, educate yourself on the issues facing this
community. Use the right pronouns with trans folks. Go to queer events. Open your church’s doors to all.

Non-Muslim folks, out of love, stand up against Islamophobic language online and in person. Read about the positive impact Muslim people have had on the world. Protect mosques, if you need to.

Some of my more liberal friends scoffed at Pantsuit Nation, but if there’s one thing I learned from all those people posting about voting, it’s that we can no longer afford to be single-issue voters.

Single-issue anything.

One is not free until all are free.

 

And so, we must work together, as a beloved community.

That work is hard. Coalitional work always is.

But it’s happening. And we should all be a part of it.

Today, we grieve. Maybe even tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. But then, we roll up our sleeves and get back to work.

For the sake of those we love, there is no other option.

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