TJ is a writer living in Portland, OR.

All with their tacit approval...

I woke up the other day and Donald Trump won the presidential election. It was a little surprising because most of the polls leading into the election didn’t think it was possible. But I wasn’t shocked. As a gay man I grew up learning that my rights did not matter, that I was something to be ashamed of, and that I deserved to die simply for existing. As a person of color, I’ve constantly been made into an interloper in my own country, made to feel un-American despite being born here. That’s getting off pretty lucky as a person of color. I’ve been insulted and threatened by strangers in public. I’ve seen people like me insulted and threatened by strangers in public. I’ve read stories in the news about people like me be intimidated, harassed, assaulted, and murdered across the country since I was a child. And while the voices that threatened me, that devalued my life, seemed small in comparison to the country as a whole, the silence that condoned the violence was overwhelming. I know that America is a better country for people like me than it has been in the past but violence and the threat of violence that hangs over me is the status quo. I’ve always lived in a country where my worth as a citizen was questioned. I’ve always lived in a country I was afraid of. I consider myself lucky to live in Portland despite how every year feels like it’s harder and harder to get by. I grew up in a small city in a red state, I always felt on edge, as long as I can financially afford this partial security I’ll take it. But this is just mitigating the threat of violence, I still might end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, so I never fully let my guard down. I can never forget what life is like outside the liberal bubbles of the cities. I can’t forget about the stories I still read in the news of intimidation and assaults and murders that still happen to people like me in this country. It doesn’t matter if there was a different Republican President, the Republican Party does not care about my rights or safety, they’ve laid it out explicitly in their party platform. I’m afraid of losing the rights we fought for, that the country has become less safe for LGBTQ people, and people of color, and women, and Muslims, and immigrants. I’m afraid that I’m less safe. I understand that conservatives are people who have their own pain and anger and hopes for the country, and most aren’t foaming-at-the-mouth racists and bigots. But as those foaming-at-the-mouth racists and bigots seized on the rhetoric of Trump and started calling for deportations, or repealing gay-marriage, or banning Muslims from entering the country, or threatening women, while growing bolder in their viciousness, they let let it happen. They refused to make the connection between themselves and the violence. They stayed silent. And why not? They had nothing to lose. If the change they wanted would come at the expense of civil rights of others then so be it. They decided that my life, that the lives of LGBTQ people, people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants had less value. They traded us for the promise of something better. I get it, I wanted something better too, something beyond just having a Democratic president, but I wanted change that will raise everyone up. They chose to leave us behind, leave us to the foaming-at-the-mouth bigots and racists who want to hurt us and the politicians who want to strip away our rights. Their silence, apathy, and indifference did this, and it might even kill some of us. It's just a subtler form or racism/bigotry. That's what I expected. That’s what they’ve been doing all along.

Stuck

Stuck

The End of My Career

The End of My Career

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