For a lot of us, this has been a year to remember. Worldwide, we’ve seen an international refugee crisis grow to epidemic proportions, fueled by wars funded by the white, male, economically-privileged power elite. We’ve seen scared, ignorant citizens of the UK vote to shutter their doors to the people who don’t look like them, who don’t speak their language. And now, in a surprise turn to just about everyone, we’ve seen the United States elect a bigoted, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist, rapist to our highest elected office.
We’re about to transition from a mildly-flawed, but certainly capable president with a brown face to a deeply-flawed and certainly incapable president with a face the color of a Dorito. The only thing that keeps me from hanging my head in shame on behalf of the country I live in is my unabashed rage at the state of things.
Many of my friends have understandably been expressing anger, sadness, and fear. But I ask you this: why now?
Black Lives Matter has been telling us all, for some time now, that the system is broken. NODAPL has been fighting against this broken system for months. This year has been the deadliest on record for trans women, and it’s not even over.
But these things, and the results of this election, are just the latest in long string of attacks against the queer community, against the economically disadvantaged community, against immigrants, against communities of color. The potential future erosion of hard won rights of marriage equality, health care access, and a woman’s right to have an abortion are only the next step on a road we’ve been traveling for some time.
I’m old enough to remember when Ronald Reagan surprised the world by unseating an incumbent president in a landslide in 1980. That led to more than a decade of unprecedented military spending, trickle down economics, and an all-out war on gay men. If I were only a little older, I might not have made it out of that decade alive. Back then, as it is now, being queer, being brown, being different was an act of subversion.
Analysts, pundits, and armchair experts will be spending a lot of time in the coming days figuring out why this happened. What we should really be asking ourselves now, though, is: what now?
One plan is to get out. So many people were visiting Canada’s immigration site that they crashed it. Maybe you’re privileged enough to be able to afford to immigrate to another country. But you’ll be leaving behind the people that will genuinely suffer from our next presidency. That’s a bad plan.
Another plan is to just hunker down and ride it out. If you’re white, able-bodied, cisgendered, and economically privileged, you’ll probably survive the next four years alright. What about your friends who aren’t those things? Will you sit back and watch them suffer while you do nothing? That’s also a bad plan.
Here’s a good plan: fight back. Our next president won because a scared, ignorant electorate heard a man tell them that they were losing their country to immigrants and terrorists and brown people and queers. The best response to that, the best plan, is to make that come true.
Our next president ran with a promise to make America great again but, for people like him, America has always been great. Let’s make America great for the rest of us. Stand up. March. Protest. Fight back. Use your voice. Use your privilege.
For me, that means continuing to be subversive. It means using the fact that I’m white and male to access spaces where someone who doesn’t look like me isn’t welcome, and use my voice. It means continuing to use this platform to give space to people that don’t have anywhere else to use their voice. It means continuing to support my queer friends, my female friends, my trans friends, my gender non-binary friends, my friends of color, my friends with disabilities, and all my other friends who aren’t part of the straight, white, male, cisgender power elite.
What does that mean to you?
Now is not the time to quit. Now is not the time to bow out. Now is not the time to leave.
Now is the time to speak out. Now is the time to stand together. Now is the time to fight back.
If simply being who we are is an act of subversion, then let’s subvert this whole god damn thing.