Yet a niggling feeling in my stomach still had me distracted, troubled—checking the results throughout the night. I find it disturbingly appropriate that the scene I was writing in my novel in those moments where hope slowly slipped out of my grasp involved a gay bashing.
I grew up in the Reagan era. I lived through both George Bush and 'W'. This is something different. This is a man embraced by the farthest fringes of the GOP. His running mate is someone who advocated reallocating HIV/AIDs funding to conversion therapy for gay youth. I’ve been advised to wait and see. I don’t need to wait. This will not be a gay friendly administration.
I am feeling loss.
I worked for many years, advocated for many years. I wrote legislators and showed up and talked to them—in person, on the phone. My letters were handwritten and on stationary and as a former state house intern, I know that’s gold. I fought and talked and raged. I endured physical abuse, bullying, and an endless stream of canvassers at the door as gay marriage neared in my home state of Massachusetts. They were trying to reverse the Supreme Judicial Court that had sided with the gay community after years of the community begging the legislature for a pittance.
The legislature gave us nothing. The courts gave us the whole shebang. But with it they released something else. The certain and unforgettable knowledge that in secret, for all this time, our neighbors had hated us. Despised us. They wanted us to stay less, to hurt, to be wounded, to feed their ideal 50s family that had died a generation ago and will never return, if indeed it ever existed.
It’s a familiar loss, this post-election feeling. Because where before it was just my neighbors, now I feel the entire country has become that place where I’m no longer safe. Where I’m no longer okay. Where only a couple years ago I’d triumphantly finally felt like I could see equality, distant but reachable, it has faded again from sight—perhaps forever.
Trump has promised to fulfill the Republican party platform. Before anyone else tells me that’s okay, please go read it. Please remember that out of the entire Republican party, he selected Pence as his running mate. And remember that despite public opinion to the contrary, most politicians do try to fulfill their campaign promises.
It’s this sense of loss that makes it hard for me to write the next chapter of my story. My hero, once a bully himself, has just come face to face with his weakness, his fragility. He’s scared, lost, and alone. And he’s going to wake up in a place where he used to be on top of the world, accepted, an athlete, and realize that he has a big invisible target painted on his back. He’s vulnerable, and afraid, and not sure how to deal with that.
Neither am I.