"Let Us Not Lose Heart-There Is More Work To Do-Secretary Hillary Clinton , November 9th, 2016
I wanted Hillary Clinton to be the President of the United States. I proudly voted for her, tweeted and retweeted incessantly, and even interviewed her amazing LGBT Outreach Grassroots Coordinator Tom D'Angora. Sadly (and unfairly, which is a whole different story) she did not win the election.. We are now faced with the equivalent of having Lord Voldemort inhabit Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as School Chancellor, and myself and my fellow Harry's and Hermione's are gobsmacked. The man who once refereed an argument between Star Jones and Nene Leakes on "The Celebrity Apprentice" ran for the nation's highest office on the official Republican Party's platform; a platform of hate and divisiveness, looking to strip back the rights of the LGBT community and of women. (don't bother to disagree; I have added a link to the official Republican Platform below).
I have encountered many people who voted for Donald Trump this week. Personally, I have many smart and amazing people in my life that most likely voted for him as well. Perhaps idealistically at times, I choose to believe that they have their own beliefs and reasons that simply may not line up with mine and that is their complete and ultimate right. That being said, I am happy to disagree politically and still love these people. If their reasons for voting for Mr. Trump are essentially based on oppressing myself and others, denying basic rights of my equality and right to exist-that would be an entirely different conversation.
Donald Trump is now our President. For how long remains to be seen. This week's post election cycle ended with a myriad of sadness, anger, fear, and general concern.
I have read articles, posted memes, and corrected others when they posted incorrect facts or links (which sadly happened way too much). I also participated in a great deal of self reflection on what I can take away from this experience on a personal level.
My Community Has Each Other- and Your's Just May Too
Asbury Park, N.J. is one of the most diverse and welcoming communities around. For every Paradise and Empress Hotel, and Watermark, there is a Cascada or a Jimmy's Italian Restaurant. We are a melting pot of African American, Italian, Mexican, LGBT and everything in between. Our police force is wonderfully diverse and our recently elected "Asbury Together" ticket (Amy Quinn, Yvonne Clayton and Eileen Chapman) who represent a true cross section of the community. We are home to Garden State Equality, where Executive Director Christian Fuscarino leads us tirelessly and proudly. We all live in this community peacefully and respectfully. You rarely hear of a hate crime, and seeing LGBT couples walking down the street next to straight couples is commonplace. I made a point of reminding myself earlier this week of how incredibly blessed I am to be an active member of this community. A wonderful friend told me today that "it's beautiful things when people who bring different experiences to the table are still able to love and respect each other". That is exactly what my community is. If you are lucky it is yours as well. Look around and take part in it. If not, start doing your own part to make your little area of the world exactly the opposite of we have been hearing from our President-elect-inclusive, welcoming, and non-discriminatory
Contribute What You Can In the Best Way You Can
Many people are feeling absolutely helpless. We feel that the rights we have as citizens, as men, and as women are in danger of being completely snatched away. I feel completely the same way. Many of us don't know where to turn and need somewhere to direct our resources that we may have available. The Trevor Project, Garden State Equality, Human Rights Campaign, God's Love We Deliver, The Matthew Shepard Foundation and Planned Parenthood offers many more services than the Republican platform would believe, and can use donations at all times. In particular, feel free to offer a donation in Mike Pence's name (information below) as he has a long and historical record of offering no support to these organizations. He receives a letter "thanking him for his donation". That is a powerful way to send a message loud and clear; we will not be silent and we will be heard.
Be Heard-In Any Way Possible
At last record, people were still protesting heavily, now on the fifth day after the election. In recent days, these protests were becoming violent and people were actually getting severely injured. I will preface by saying that I think people taking advantage of a cause and using it as an excuse to loot, steal, or rob are parasites on any cause that others are passionate about and taint the true meaning of what people are trying to achieve. That being said, the majority of these people are protestors. They are scared. Scared the way the members of ACTUP were when they chained themselves to the fence outside the White House in 1991, demanding that the Bush administration increase the war against AIDS. Scared the way gay men and women were inside the Stonewall inn in New York City in the late 60's when they simply could not take the abuse of the local government any longer and fought back, thus starting the fight for our equality as a community. Many are also calling these people "crybabies" and "sore losers" , comparing this election to a trivial event the Super Bowl. This is not a sporting event. This is not your fantasy football league. These are our rights, our hopes, and our dignity.
I am finding that one of the biggest ironies during this whole news cycle is this; the same people calling those names are the ones that get up in arms about the cashier at Macy's saying "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas", or the color of this season's holiday cup at Starbucks. Privilege seemingly is a right to some and does not require being earned.
Protest, write your Congressman, write your Senator. Most of all, be visible. This is not the time for us to go back into the closet or hide from the world, it is the time to do the exact opposite. Be more visible than you ever have been. Blanketing the protestors as "spoiled millennials" seems to be offering the privileged a great deal of comfort, as the after effects of the election are making some of those people uncomfortable for a myriad of reasons. Let them know you are protesting and why.
My Brothers and Sisters
I watched the election of 2017, like many of you, with friends. We started at a private home at a small dinner, and the mood quickly became somber and morose when we started to see the results coming in. We moved onto a bar, and while the usual frivolity was occurring in the background, the majority of the patrons started to realize the gravity of what was actually occurring. It gave me a comfort to see members of my community watching this life changing election together. We all knew that this was one of the most important elections of our time, and paying attention was crucial. While the outcome was not what we wanted or expected, I am blessed to have a wonderfully diverse and whip smart group of friends that, regardless of their cultural thoughts, know that our rights as free Americans were at stake in this election, even after the votes are counted. They are straight, they are gay, they are amazing. Chances are, many of us are lucky to have found your "tribe" you have been relying on during the past week to vent, drink with or get extremely passionate with about. Continue these discussions (and the cocktails); don't stop the dialogue and become complacent. Complacency is arguably, what it is also what potentially pushed the needle on the "red" side in many cases.
Let's be frank-people are acting like real assholes in the wake of this election. They are finding it completely and totally acceptable to vocalize their racism, homophobia, and xenophobia just a tiny bit louder than they were on November 7th.(The man I encountered today having a conversation where the threw around the "n" word quite liberally when he thought he was having a private conversation comes to mind). In recent incidents in Hell's Kitchen and Philadelphia's Gayborhood, they are even resorting to violence against members of the community. While they may want to shove us back into the closet, the kitchens, or the alleys, I think they have it somewhat backwards. We are more visible now in business, media and in technology to go anywhere at all now. I encourage every single one of you-pay attention to your surroundings. Travel together. Most importantly-fight the hell back.
One of my goals for 2017 was going to be interviewing the President or the Vice President of the United States. Sadly, I don't see that being a reality. One of which I am not interested in, and the other feels I deserve less rights than he does. I refuse to be pushed aside or not heard though. We have a dazzling and hopeful group of people who were elected to government who represent the melting pot that our nation is I will reach out to those people to hear their thoughts on how we can band together and be sure we continue to be heard and respected. These are the people that will be fighting both for us and alongside us. These people are going to be the next generation of our democracy.
A final thought; Riccardo Martire is a resident of Asbury Park and when I mentioned writing this article, he brought this sentiment to my attention in regards to his voting experience in Asbury Park, N.J.
As I entered my polling place Tuesday morning on Asbury Ave a huge smile came over my face as I saw a cross-section of America in that little school. White, Black, Gay, Straight, Asian, Hispanic, Disabled, Old and Young. Everyone was optimistic, jovial, and excited to be participating in the Democratic process. For that moment they were in a bubble, a little room in inclusive Asbury Park, forgetting how unlike that the rest of the country can be. As I left I couldn't stop from thinking how much the country can learn from Asbury Park.
Official 2016 Republican Platform
You can make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence's name and he will receive the certificate of the donation.
Office of Governor Mike Pence
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797
The Trevor Project
Garden State Equality
Human Rights Campaign
God's Love We Deliver
Matthew Shepard Fondation
Photo 1 Courtesy of ABC News
Photo 2 Courtesy of Asbury Park Press
Photo 3 Courtesy of Getty Images
Photo 4 Courtesy of CBS News
Photo 5 Courtesy of Asbury Park Sun