I often think back to election night in November. I had gathered together with a group of my LGBT+ friends at our local Democratic watch party expecting to spend the night celebrating a victory for progress. As the night went on and the numbers rolled in, one of my friends would frequently look at me and ask, “Brandan, is it time to start worrying yet?” I responded, “Of course not. There’s no way that he’s going to win.” This exchanged happened a half dozen times throughout the evening and after about an hour, we all decided that it would be best if we left the party and headed to a more private space to watch the election together. Sitting around a table, we silently watched the television screen as the numbers rolled in. Fear was palpable in the room. We couldn’t eat, we couldn’t drink, and we couldn’t speak. After about another hour, we all decided it was time for us to go to bed.
The results seemed certain- an unqualified, immoral man who represented the antithesis to all of our hopes and values was about to take control of our nation. We never believed such a thing could really happen. Such a situation only seemed possible in the distant past, in the time of kings and dictators. Certainly, our civilized, evolved world couldn’t return to such a time. And yet, when I woke up in the morning and looked down at my phone, the CNN news alert read, “Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States”, and I fell back into the bed and wept.
My tears weren’t because my political party lost. They weren’t because I think that Republicans are indecent and dangerous. My tears came from the harsh realization that I had been living in a dream state, caught in a massive delusion that somehow our nation was better off than it truly was. That I had imagined we had progressed much further than we did. I cried because I realized that there was a large group of folks across this country that still didn’t believe I should have equal rights as an LGBT+ person. There was a large group of people that people of color should be marginalized or deported based on their religion or nationality. A group of people that I had completely isolated myself from and that I had forgot even existed.
I cried because my illusions of progress and change were stripped away over night, and the reality of just how much work was left to do overwhelmed me and kindled a deep fear that if we continued to fall back into the same trance like state, we would allow this illusion of progress to continue, while the deep roots of our nations biggest hurdles continued to grow deeper still.
I cried because I was afraid that we would become complacent yet again.
A few months have passed since the election of Donald Trump, and I have to say that those tears and fears have all but evaporated. In the past few months, we have seen an unprecedented uprising of the American people from every race, religion, and socio-economic status that is taking to the streets in every city, large and small, across our great land. We have seen the emergence of truly intersectional movements of justice, where the insular focus on only the issues that effect us have faded into a cry for justice for all people, not just our own. We have seen people of faith and of no faith at all unite to oppose the desecration of Native American sacred land, and hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to airports to demand that Muslim refugees be welcomed to our country with open arms.
My tears of fear have turned to tears of joy, because I believe that so many of us, once blinded by our bubbles and privilege, have been shaken out of our sleep and finally realized that if we don’t stand up, speak out, and raise hell, then we truly could find ourselves living in dark and oppressive times. We have come together in opposition to the agenda of a man who represents the worst in our human nature- greed, prejudice, arrogance, exploitation, violence, and abuse- and are demanding that our government represent the best of our human nature- charity, generosity, grace, reconciliation, and love.
We have entered in to a moment like we’ve never seen before. A moment of awakening and unification, a moment where the moral arc of the universe is truly being bent towards a more just and generous future.
We clearly have a long way to go, but I am convinced that the shift that has occurred across our nation and around our world is powerful enough to overcome the forces that seek to drive us back. We must all lean into this awakening and continue to question the complacency that will inevitably arise in our minds, knowing that if we sit down and shut up, the roots of injustice will only grow deeper. But if we stand up, speak up, and act up, we can truly transform the future and pave a path towards the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
In this age of great danger, may we also recover that profound and stubborn hope that has existed in the hearts of all of those great reformers and revolutionaries who have been able to envision a future beyond their present reality, and who fought tirelessly until we all approached that reality together. We are up against a lot of threats, to be sure, and when we overcome these obstacles, I can only imagine that we will find ourselves deeply united in heart, mind, and vision, standing on the brink of a new era of history where justice will truly roll forth like a river and love will truly win, after all.
But until then, we must continue our fight for that brave new world.
Now, more than ever, I believe in our collective power to overturn evil and overcome injustice. Now, more than ever, I believe we can come together across our deepest divides and paint a picture of that common dream for a world that works for the good of us all. Now, more than ever, I believe that when we raise our voices on behalf of one another, we will create a force for good that cannot be stopped even by the most powerful of opponents. Now, more than ever, I believe that our light will overcome the darkness that we have allowed to fester beneath the surface.
Now is the moment of awakening and progress.
Welcome to the revolution.