As a gay man living in the heart of Trumpland I feel I have to comment on the current political situation. Many of you know I spent some time in a local church that led to a lot of hurt. I dealt with a lot of religious people that were homophobic and hateful. But I also left that church with a lot of friends that were not. I learned that even in the same church, not all Christians act the same way, and not everyone in any group is "bad". This experience allowed me to see things from different perspectives. It allowed me see someone else's world view other than my own and respect different beliefs.
I have been watching both liberal and conservative news media for over a year. The two have had very different agendas, and have focused on very different issues. While the left has focused on divisive, prejudicial rhetoric, the right has focused on the global economy, the TPT, domestic jobs leaving, and questionable behavior of HRC. I have seen #AnybodyButTrump and #NeverHillary for a long time and I can see both sides. In my opinion, neither was a good choice. This week, Trump was elected and that leaves a lot of liberals afraid. The nation has gone into chaos. Protesters in every major city, and news of hate crimes running rampant on the other side.
Am I scared? Yes! I remember the 1990's. I have been beaten in the back of the head with a baseball bat while walking home from work. I have had a gun pulled on me on my way to the club. Though years ago, I remember the time when it was dangerous to walk alone through certain neighborhoods because people were being killed on the streets for "looking gay". And today, I read the news of the hate crimes spreading through our nation and I fear we have come back to a time where this behavior will once again become the norm.
On the other hand, I have countless friends here who voted for Trump. I live in a conservative town, and work a job where the workforce is very conservative. Note I didn't say "I know many people", I said I have many friends who voted Trump. These people ARE NOT racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynic, dumb, or any of the many other words being thrown around today. They are people who not only have a different world view than me, but people who had very valid concerns over the economy, immigration reform, and various other subjects. They are people who have watched industrial jobs leave our country, and have had very real fear of losing their jobs and way of life. They were afraid of who would put dinner on the table if their job left. Some of them are already struggling because their jobs did leave. They did not see Hillary as a candidate that would listen to their needs, or one that was viable for the position of President. They voted their conscious, based off what they thought was best for their families.
Over the past year, when they voiced their concern, we (the left), labeled them racist. We called them xenophobic. We screamed "homophobe" till we were red in the face. And it seemed like it worked. It shut them up. It made them afraid to voice their opinion. But it drove them out in mass to the polls. Afraid to say "I'm voting for Trump", they went out and did it.
You would think as LGBT people, as people of color, as women, as minorities, we would have learned the dangers and damage labeling people can cause. But we haven't. We label anyone who thinks different than us, and we pound the wedge dividing our nation even deeper. What could we actually accomplish if we sat down with that love we always talk about, and listened?
Like I said, my friends that voted for Trump are not racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynic, or dumb. Am I scared of our future, yes. Do I agree with them on all the issues, no. If I were attacked today for being gay, would these conservative, Trump voting friends have my back and stand with me, absolutely. I have no doubt that they would be the first ones to stand up and fight prejudice and have my back.
If any of my friends are discriminated against based on race, religion, sexuality, gender, or any other reason, I will stand with them and fight back. It would be hypocritical of me not to do the same for any of my friends that are called names for their political beliefs. I will stand with my conservative friends who have different priorities than me but do not deserve to be labeled with hateful terms.
We are a nation divided. At some times I think it might be better for the USA to dissolve and let the states become independent nations. That seems like the direction we are headed. We don't seem able to come together. We don't seem willing to work together. But that future is not the America I love, and I am not ready to give up on her. We all need to be "the bigger person" and reach across the table.
Just because someone felt certain issues were bigger than Trump's weaknesses doesn't mean they are out to harm you. Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean the hate you. I am sick and tired of seeing this culture of "us vs them". We need to sit down together and work across partisan lines. We need to learn compromise. We need to learn to listen. This goes for both sides.