Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”, 1992
So I officially came out tonight. I asked my friends to start using he/him pronouns for me. It was heard and accepted, and all part of the collective middle finger.
I’m still going to start T, I’m still going to be openly trans, and I’m still totally here for anyone who needs to talk. Tonight or whenever.
I spent my twenties in the Bush Years, in much the same way some of you awesome folks will now be spending your twenties (hopefully fewer of them) in the Trump Years. As an activist Democrat in 2000 (in Florida, no less!) and 2004, I know this shock and horror and panic feeling. I just wanted to share a few thoughts, for what they’re worth. It’s a bit long.
1. Going from an era like the Obama administration to the upcoming era we face, might feel like all the oxygen has ben sucked out of the room. It might not be equally instantly noticeable to all, but there is a chilling effect that a bad Presidential administration will probably have. Things might feel less free, less safe, less creatively open. That’s because they are. My advice is to find the things you love right now, that warm your heart and make you feel like yourself, and actively foster them. They’re your oxygen tanks. You might need them for a while, so learn to recharge them. Put your own mask on first, then help others, just like on an airplane. For (dorky) example, during the Bush Years, I probably watched the “Lord of the Rings” movies 100 times. They were a comfort zone. That sort of thing gets really important. Don’t be afraid to just curl up in a comfort zone if you need it from time to time, it’s a priority. Music, books, creative outlets, beautiful places, good people–now more than ever, they matter.
2. This shit will end. The Reagan/Bush 1 years led to the awesomeness of the 90s, the Bush 2 years led to the awesomeness of Obama. This doesn’t mean good eventually loses or is meaningless. It means that no matter how bad a chunk of humanity periodically fucks up, most people want to fight back and pull things up again, and successfully do.
3. The seismic shift of a Very Bad Thing happening might hurt, and seem to let monsters loose. But it also rips a hole for some really positive changes in response. Nothing is won overnight, but there will be opportunities to fight back and advance good things, and if you’ve given yourself permission to take care of yourself, you’ll be ready to push back.
4. Hate, and hateful people are scary as hell. But they don’t run reality. They run amok, and they can be dealt with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from good people. Don’t let hateful people fool you into thinking they’ve won. Hate never wins in the long run.
5. Try not to get sucked in to fighting hate directly, or lashing out with anger, or trying to figure out what went wrong just yet. It’s a really draining MO, and will probably be exhausting and unsustainable in the long run, leaving you feeling weak and vulnerable to those hateful people. There are better ways to fight them, than their way.
6. You’re not alone, you don’t have to come out, you can conform as much as you need to stay safe. Preserving your life and well-being matters most. But also, if you feel you can jump on opportunities to fight back and be open, take seriously the impulse to do it. It’s not necessarily rash or a bad idea, just because the desire to do it comes up suddenly. Standing up and being heard, if you can, helps others A LOT. It’s not selfish or impulsive, it’s brave and heroic. Take yourself seriously, even if you’ve been trained not to.
7. There are two phases to awful stuff like this. The shock and grief and worry part, and the adaptation part. Life goes on, and we will all be adjusting however we can. It’s human nature. But you can get in front of it and decide for yourself how you’ll be adapting. It doesn’t just have to be endurance against the toxicity, dishonesty, hypocrisy and disingenuousness that are likely to be raining on our heads for awhile. You can work hard and adapt in ways that actively resist. It’s better to do that, than just let the architects of this bullshit decide how your life will be bending.
Thanks for being you. Hugs and love to you all.