America is in trouble...in more ways than one. I'm going to point out a few problems I have seen and experienced recently, and I hope readers will share their concerns and possible solutions!
The thing I have noticed most since our ill-fated election is FEAR!
The president-elect appears to have opened a Pandora's Box of Troubles with his racist, misogynist, inhumane, immigrant-hating, gay-hating, and white supremist statements....all under the cover of quasi-religious declarations.
First we need to look at our nation's history. The original inhabitants have long since lost any status or rights to property. Witness the way tribal holy lands and water resources have been treated by greedy pipeline supporters in recent weeks. Officials reportedly sprayed protesters with water in sub-freezing weather last week. For what? Protecting what is theirs!
When settlers came to the US, they took "land that belonged to everyone" and fenced it. They essentially stole it from those who were here first. Andrew Jackson made it his mission to kill all tribal peoples. It wasn't enough for him to put them on reservations to limit their freedoms. History tells cruel and bitter stories about things settlers and the US government did to them.
I always wondered if the "white man" thought that committing genocide gave him/them the right to take what was not his/theirs.
But today we have a leader who openly and cruelly speaks against anyone who is not exactly like him--a "rich white male." Don't get me wrong, I believe that most white males are good and kind people, but there are some who believe the world and its environment belong only to them. This is where we run into trouble.
Last week a friend sent me a letter from someone who is expressing her feelings about the current leadership and some of its uncaring followers. I think of her as "everyperson."
Read and share with others. While you are doing this, put yourself and your identity in the place of "gay." Read "woman," "minority," "tribal person," "legal immigrant," "person of color," "poor," etc. into the place of "everyperson's" identity.
Do you, too, feel fear?
Dear Friends -
I am gay, and I am afraid.
This past weekend, as I was I stepping out of my car, a man driving past yelled at me. I did not hear all that he said - I immediately got back into my car and locked the doors - but here is a part of his message: "You and your fucking cunt wife..."
I was alone. It was the middle of the day in an upscale business section of the city. And this man felt it was within his rights to attack me.
"Rights" are the key here.
I'm not sure how many think about this, but until 16 months ago, 33 million gay Americans including myself did not have equal rights under the law. Most of us still live without protection against discrimination in employment and housing.
But the marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court conveyed 2,500 rights to me and 33 million other gay Americans should we choose to get married.
For me, that ruling did more. It made me safer. Before the ruling, not only was I legally a second class citizen, but I was perceived as one. To cause me harm was to face fewer consequences than people might face if they attacked a 'real' American.
I speak from experience. Prior to the marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court, I was raped by two different self-identified "Christian" men who, while each was raping me, called me various names - dyke, cunt - and told me it was their duty and their right to 'straighten me out.'
For the past year and a half, I have thought that world was behind me.
And then, a week ago, Donald Trump was elected President. In the seven days since the election, he has selected individuals with dangerous attitudes - on record - toward gay Americans for key administrative posts.
Mike Pence, Vice-President elect and now in charge of the transition team, supports gay conversion therapy, as does Ken Blackwell, who is being considered for a cabinet seat in the administration.
I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with gay conversion therapy, but, the American Psychological Association has identified conversion techniques including:
"Inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images; providing electric shocks; having the individual snap an elastic band around the wrist when aroused by same-sex erotic images or thoughts; using shame to create aversion to same-sex attractions; orgasmic reconditioning; and satiation therapy. Other techniques include trying to make patients' behavior more stereotypically feminine or masculine, teaching heterosexual dating skills, using hypnosis to try to redirect desires and arousal, and other techniques" (https://www.apa.org/.../lg.../resources/therapeutic-response.pdf).
So let me say it again - I am afraid. I am afraid that, without everyone's help, a few people will make it okay for more people to rape me or force me to undergo conversion therapy. (Sadly, there is not a big difference between the two.)
Please don't let that happen. Please don't let your vote in the recent election be the last thing you do for your fellow Americans for four years. Please reach out - to your senators, your representatives, your governor, your mayor, the members of your city council, your school board, your sheriff - and let them know that they must oppose any legislation that puts gay Americans in danger: legal, physical or otherwise.
(The writer offers this website for information regarding how to reach these representatives: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.)
One in 10 Americans is gay, which means every one of you knows - and loves - someone who is gay.
Do everything in your power to let people know that it is completely unacceptable to hurt other people simply because we are gay. Be loud. Be adamant. Be there for us. Show love!
So, put your identity where this writer told what has happened to gay people in America. How does it feel? Fearful?
Then take responsibility as a citizen of the United States of America. Remind others that all people are humans with equal rights under our constitution--and all deserve respect! Vow to respect everyone you meet and talk with. Only by doing this can we create a backlash against bigots who want to banish all except themselves to second- and third-class citizenship.
We must do more than just talk to elected officials--we must stand up for all people in social, business, and other settings. When all people treat others the way they want to be treated, we'll be fine!
Together we can create a warm, caring America in which all people are safe and able to exercise our rights as citizens. We must do it now!