President Obama was victorious, but that's not to say his supporters didn't suffer casualties. How many friendships were lost in lead up to the 2012 presidential election?
As the election approached, several gays wrote eloquent Facebook posts stating their hope for equality and how Romney promised to crush this hope. These posts often instructed those voting Romney to delete themselves from their page, which felt passive and not productive. How do you learn or change minds if you surround yourself only with people who believe the exact same thing you do?
After discovering some of my own friends and family had liked Romney's page, I sat down to write my manifesto. I explained how a Romney presidency promised to deny my full citizenship. How would they feel, those who take their rights for granted? I knew some friends vote Republican for other values, including a vast cosmic inheritance. I can accept that, but I wasn't going to allow them the fiction they weren't also actively involved in devaluing me. Maybe one day their rights would be getting clobbered by somebody else's God and when that happens, let's hope I won't need to be persuaded it's more than just politics -- it's personal.
I never asked anyone to delete me. This was a litmus test to discover who cares for me and who only follows to check out all the awesome adventures I'm having without them. I figured I'd lose a few friends, probably people I'd never even met. Others would stay silent, some might be sarcastic, but what I did not count on was the comment which read: "Blah, blah, blah... " The comment itself wouldn't have struck a chord if it hadn't come from one of my oldest friends in the world.
Blah, blah, blah? As in, yawning bored, heard this tired topic a million times already so just shoot me now. But this wasn't my millionth post hammering home the same subject. Neither was it a trifling thesis about how Tom Daley has yet to notice me (I'll wait), or why a flowerbed simply can't triumph without a tulip. I spent two hours carefully composing something that truly mattered to me and this girlfriend spent two seconds to type a euphemism for shut your fucking mouth.
Such disregard was disingenuous considering that 20 years ago, after my parents discovered I was "questioning my sexuality," I ran to this girl for safety. I was crying on the phone to my mother and distinctly recall her, my best friend, screaming so loudly in the background about love and respect that I could hardly hear my mother talk of weeding out the evil Satan had planted in my heart.
Today, my parents are supportive and equality-minded. They have grown and learned and chose love. What a swap to now see the girl who once stood for fairness to be so eye-rollingly over it. Back then, she would have empathized with a desire to not keep from the next generation the hope and dignity kept from me.
Not everything gets better with age.
Most relationships have an expiration date, but usually it's too hard to make out. We hope they haven't gone off, imagining they're still pleasant, non-toxic and in flux, awaiting a glorious future revival. It comes as a surprising blow to realize that instead, lingering there on the back burner is something irretrievably putrid.
In my case, we hadn't been good friends for the better part of a decade. Sure I'd casually check in online to see her jogging fun runs or dining out with girlfriends, but not in close enough contact to know what might have changed her so starkly: marriage, motherhood, religion, or if social minorities are simply not de rigueur in the smart set of suburbia.
This woman has children now and what if she typed up a passionate plea fearing her kids weren't receiving equal treatment at school? What if she wrote about her desire to not be fired unjustly at work, or freaking out over not being allowed to visit her comatose husband in the hospital and what if I were to then respond so callously cavalier: "Blah, blah, blah... "
Friends do not dismiss friends with a flippant flick of the wrist. They argue and they fight but when friends disagree, they can still be supportive. At this point, it goes way beyond politics. If it were merely political, I would have sent her this cartoon. This was about us, so I asked my old friend to clarify her remark and its intent; I wanted to see if she had really stopped caring.
I know she got my messages because I can see what time she looked at her phone to find me asking her to please say her page got hacked by some troll. Instead, her silence told me there was no more to learn from this relationship. With three little words, she showed me her true colors which, once so vibrant, now appear dulled into more of a murkish grey. Blah, in fact.
They say politics has the power to destroy friendships but maybe it's just that politics has the power to illuminate what purports to be a friendship. I deleted her and although it was honest, it didn't feel good. There were no winners here and unlike an election this was no contest. This was a roll call, and friends show up.
Follow Jesse Archer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JesseOnTheBrink