Okay, my LGBTQ and sex positive friends and allies:
This is your call to action. Maybe you’ve been burning with anger, or immobilized by fear. Maybe you just don’t want to think about political stuff at all — jeez, I know I don’t. I’m not a policy wonk, and while business-as-usual hasn’t worked out that well for me as a disabled person, I’ve survived.
But the battleground is set, and it’s on the edge of a volcano. We hear the ground rumbling underneath us. It’s more heated right now than I can remember anytime in my life — and I’m in my fifth decade. The fight for human rights feels more urgent to me now than anything since Stonewall, since the fight against AIDS in the 1980s & 1990s, since the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk, since the rallying cry around the death of Matthew Shepard or any of the myriads who’ve died for the crime of being different.
In the last five years we’ve seen the LGBTQ community gain some amazing strides: the legalization of marriage nation-wide, the Obama administration interpretation of anti-discrimination law, some strong moves forward and statements by cities, states and school districts in support of their LBGTQ population.
We have met these changes with triumph and with regret that they are still so little and long overdue. To us, it is obvious that all human beings must have the equal rights to access to love, security, housing, education, and jobs.
For the most vocal of the Trump supporters, no. The election results were not a surprise to me, nor to many of my friends who’ve lived in rural America. Anyone who is poor could probably see this coming. We know what shadows lie in the system of business-as-usual, and what has to be sacrificed to keep our awareness down, to keep from being ground under its wheels.
Throughout this election year and especially after the election results, it has become more obvious to us that people are tribal. We’ve noticed that many people’s definition of tribe can’t encompass an entire country, and maybe ours can’t either. But those of us who have been in this fight, whether for years or decades, need to redouble our efforts to put the good for the whole country over the good for just the people we like.
And how do we do that?
We need to challenge the idea that any life can be disposable. We need to broaden our perspective. We have to struggle even harder for our own rights while simultaneously insuring that the rights of other people aren’t sacrificed for our security and peace of mind. Not in this country, and not on this planet.
We need to stay informed. And we need to get our information from good sources. Read many sources not just a few. Cruise the news. Try checking out The Guardian or another foreign paper to get news on US politics. Don’t rely on the same sources every day. And definitely get on the mailing lists for your own representatives to stay apprised of what they are working to do.
We need to stop vilifying people. We can despise actions without despising the humanity of the people who perpetuate them. We aim for understanding of those who are our worst critics. Tha
We need to commit to what we can actually do. It’s easy to get swept up in post-election fervor and it’s not hard for most people to participate in a nonviolent protest. But if I’m agoraphobic, that’s not going to be my style of activism.
What small thing can I actually do to change the world today? Would my efforts be more useful at a local level or state level? Am I more of an online activist or a call-your-senator type? Maybe I’m a person wh0 believes that meditation or prayer has a place in activism. Or maybe my Vietnamese next door neighbor needs me to go with her to Social Security to make sure that communication lines stay clear because she doesn’t speak English well.
I remember why I left the peace movement in the late 1980’s — I reached a wall. I felt I’d done what I could and I didn’t have any more to give. I was angry all the time, and some part of me felt that I couldn’t be marching for peace until I had more peace with who I was. Sometimes you need to change the world and sometimes you need to let the world change you.
I completely understand the desire to hide away somewhere peaceful or to Netflix out for awhile — and there’s a place for that. But don’t let that be where you stay. Make a small amount of time for political action — an hour a week, or a phone call a day. Pick an organization working for change and meet with them in your city. Because we really can’t afford to numb out all the time. We have a clear example of where inaction leads us. Now let’s see what we can really do.
(Value added: LGBT rights by country or territory)