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Bridges Instead of Walls: Thoughts on the U.S. Election from a Southern Gay Man

My mother stayed up with me last night, watching TV and hoping for news of a Clinton victory. As the night progressed, our hearts sank more and more. We were each on the verge of tears. Mom wanted so much to see the first woman take office, as did I. And perhaps more than that– we wanted human kindness, moral strength of character, and common decency to win. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Despite winning the popular vote, Clinton failed to attain the magical 270 electoral number needed to win the presidency. By morning, the reality had yet to take hold. We were still in shock. Later, while in town during the day, I overheard curious bits and pieces of steam from those around me: “Oh, Trump doesn’t really mean what he says” and “Hillary left troops to die and I just can’t get behind someone who kills babies.” A man at the gym cornered an unfortunate bystander: “If you were in Wal-Mart, and some terrorist attacked you, I’d defend you with my assault rifle!” Oh boy. When the bystander countered, “I just don’t see the need for anyone outside of law enforcement to have that type of weapon,” the ranting man grew a bright shade of red and stomped away. Forget high school, it was kindergarten all over again. On the likes of Facebook and Twitter, I keep reading lots of interesting anecdotes: “We deserve this… Americans are stupid… Let’s hold hands and pray and heal… We need to unite… He can’t be any worse than Obama” and so forth. Firstly, I think those kinds of sweeping generalizations paint us with far too wide of a brushstroke. After all, lest we forget, not everyone voted for Trump. Who is the we in we? Do we deserve this? No, of course we don’t. Second, the idea of putting differences aside and singing “Kumbaya” after the act of electing Trump falls (at least to me) a smidgen on the naïve side. While it’s a nice enough sentiment, and people mean well by it, this has been a divided land for many years. From the arrival of Columbus, to slavery and the Trail of Tears, to the present day. It will continue to be divided. We should bear in mind that the majority isn’t always right, and to disagree with the President Elect doesn’t mean that one is being unpatriotic. This time around especially, it simply means you have a brain. Some of us may have lost something very basic. Some of us… indeed, a good many, have lost the ability to civilly disagree. I’d even take it a step further and say that many haven’t quite caught on to the idea of selflessness. We don’t have to all agree and come together as a whole. It’s impossible. That’s why there are laws… so we don’t run around like madmen and do whatever we want, when we want. We all disagree on certain hot button issues. We hold different religious views. We want low taxes. But sometimes you take a few hits for the greater good. Sometimes you let that one go, so that basic human rights for others aren’t taken away. Think of the person you love. The one you are married to. Now, Imagine if it wasn’t even a possibility to marry that person. How would that make you feel? That’s why it is important to be selfless sometimes, and to see the big picture.

Personally, I’m with her still. For the next few years, or heaven forbid, however long it takes, I’ll always be with her. That doesn’t mean that I don’t accept the President Elect, it just means my values mostly still fall in line with those of Hillary, Obama, Michelle, and Bernie. Are those individuals perfect? No. No one is. But give me any of them, any day, over someone who facilitates and rides the wave of racism, misogyny, and homophobia that is currently sweeping the world at large. By all means. Give me bridges instead of walls. Love instead of hate. I understand that people wanted change. But change at any cost, if we learned anything from The Diary of Anne Frank, is not worth it. And to be clear, I’m not pointing fingers, nor do I think that all who voted for Trump are awful racists.

There were many factors that came into play and contributed to what occurred last night. Obama was blocked for years by a non-cooperative government, and media sensationalism took the focus away from the real issues of this election: renewable resources, climate change, job growth, healthcare, global terrorism, and police militarization. Hopefully, as the future unfolds, my mother and I will be able to one day share that historic moment of a female president. Michelle or Chelsea, I’m looking at you…

-Don Gaddis of Beautiful Strange Fantastic, November 10, 2016


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