Hey, gays. President-elect Donald Trump’s victory speech happened last night around 2 AM, if my gin-and-tonic-soaked memory serves me correctly. (Ed note: It might not.) That means that we have until tonight at 2 AM to do things that make us feel better temporarily, like posting selfies with the caption #stillwithher, or pretending this was all a dream, or, I don’t know, crying in our therapist’s office while she shifts uncomfortably in her chair, for example.
And then, we need to pick up the pieces and get our shit together.
LGBTQIA+ rights were not anyone’s actual focus in this election. No marginalized group’s rights really were, if we’re being honest. The 2016 election cycle was more about emails and fear-mongering and walls and Russia and Billy Motherfucking Bush. And in the cold, hard light of Nov. 9, that’s embarrassing and hurtful. And there’s literally nothing we can do about that now. It’s done. We lost before a single ballot was cast.
But what we can do, and what we should do, and what we need to do, is to ensure that this never happens to us again. And the first way to do that is for every single one of us to be the most visible homos this country has ever seen.
Now is not the time to turn inward. Now is the time to turn up.
Don’t unfriend your gloating Republican classmates on Facebook. Find people who like their comments, and friend them, too. Fill their feeds with positive, pro-gay news. Make sure they know about the latest developments in the fight against HIV and also that they don’t miss a single car commercial that features a same sex couple driving an affordable sedan through a suburban idyll. And yes, feel free to supplement this stream of content with Gaga’s latest music video, if you must. She might be of some use to us.
Look for people who RT Ann Coulter unironically on Twitter and slide into their mentions. Don’t harass them. Engage them. Talk to them. Make sure that for the duration of the Trump administration, they are living every single day with their votes hanging from their neck like a dime-store Jesus piece that turns their skin green when they sweat.
Speak to children patiently and generously about gender and sexuality stereotypes. (LGBT youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts.)
Post a single rainbow flag emoji on every Mike Pence Instagram photo.
Ask every taxi driver, cashier, co-worker, cousin, dog walker, friend, and politician you know if they can tell you what LGBTQIA+ actually stands for. Especially the QIA+ part. Explain it to them either way.
Talk to your elderly, bigoted neighbor. Help them with their groceries. Offer to wash their car. Bring them fresh fruit in the summer. Show them you’re a really nice person. And then, six months into your loving, cross-generational friendship, lean in as they sip their tea and whisper, “Oh, forgot to mention, I’m a fucking faggot.” And then carry on with the fruit and the car washes.
Vote in every midterm election. Vote in every local election. Find out who the hell is running for sheriff and show up to their office and ask them—politely, calmly, intelligently—where they stand on a laundry list of every issue relating to the LGBTQIA+ community that you can possibly call to mind. Feel free to make some up, too, to test them.
Know your allies. Look for anyone who is like-minded—gay or not—and support them in whatever struggle they are fighting against, and tell them that we need them, too. Because we do. We cannot do this alone.
Being kind is not weak. Being angry is only productive if we channel our rage into positive change.
It’s nearly impossible not to feel small this morning. I sure do. And there are so many others who do, as well. So, let’s all agree to start making ourselves feel too big to be ignored again.
Get up. Make yourself seen and heard in any way you know how. Wash the fear and the anger and the upset off, like so much body glitter after a pride parade. We have a lot of work to do. And the time to do it is now.