If you’re like me, you woke up Thursday morning hoping the horror of Wednesday morning was just some sort of Inception-like nightmare within a nightmare.
You read through your newsfeed despite swearing off social media and/or human interaction for the next four years, and unfriended that one person you thought was pretty cool, but somehow turned into a raging insaneclownpants and voted against everything you stand for.
You were reminded that this isn’t just a nightmare; it’s a horrorscape, and everyone you care about is at risk.
Early Wednesday morning, a close friend called me from Raleigh. We vented, sat in silence, and vented some more.
“This is how fascism will take hold,” he said, trailing off. “And what’re we to do? They’ll control the House, Senate, and White House.”
After we hung up, I erased my blackboard’s grocery list and scrawled an escape plan: Save money; Renew passport; Research Canadian towns and pet travel laws. I wore all black and dusted off my LGBTQ activism pins; I had to get my armor on.
I ugly-cried most of Wednesday – at the bus stop, at work, in front of complete strangers. I joined other stupefied cohorts and rallied at City Hall, then protested that night.
And despite feeling exhausted, depressed, angry, lonely, and in complete shambles, I felt recharged by the energy of everyone around me; I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t curled into a ball. I wasn’t running. I was part of a crowd of strangers united by a common goal of letting our voices be heard, of refusing to be silent and complicit.
Wednesday night came, and I found myself back home, staring at my blackboard. My adrenaline pumped, and my eyes hung heavy. I took a deep breath and another piece of chalk, and added a line beneath my exit strategy:
Fight as long as possible.
I hope that the push against this vile dumpster fire will continue every single day – that we won’t let the spark and fervor of our rage die down.
We were on the cusp of a bright future, and we will not let it go. I still see it every morning, in every sunrise, and I have a painful longing for it. We must reach for it – our arms outstretched, fists clenched in solidarity. This is not about “being a sore loser.” This is about opposing authoritarian dominance of the most insidious kind. Being comfortable is a pastime; and if you are, you’re part of the problem. We should all feel a fire burning inside us – the drive to do something.
I am a white cisgender gay man in a liberal city; I’m afforded absurd privileges because of that, and I intend to leverage them every single moment I can – to speak and act up, and call out injustice against anyone this cadre of neo-fascists targets. I cannot and will not be silent – my friends of color, female-identified friends and family, LGBTQ family, and friends with disabilities deserve better.
It’s mind-boggling and terrifying how far this country may fall, and who may use this significant weakness to capitalize on our fragility. It’s going to be exhausting and heart-wrenching, but we must keep pushing this country in a progressive direction.
I will not flee. I will not hide. I will not change how I present myself to the world out of fear of persecution. I’ll have days when I’m tired, where I feel defeated.
But I will never be defeated. Because I will dare to be defiant.