November 13, 2016
Dear Mr. Pence,
Congratulations on your victory. First of all, I believe that you and Trump/Pence supporters think that we are upset because the Democrats lost. True, we are upset that we lost the election, but we are marching in the streets because we are scared of you. We are terrified of people like you and of a government that aligns itself with hate and ignorance.
People like you and Donald Trump have a history of making America think that we will lose our civil rights. This is not only about losing our civil rights. It is about losing the very lives we have.
I am writing this to tell you that we are not going backwards. We are not starting from scratch.
There was a time in our country when we were rounded up, locked up, falsely arrested for sex crimes, and had to live our lives in shame. Just so you know, we are not doing that again. Those days are long gone.
There was a time in our country when many of us were psychologically tortured by our “Christian” relatives and were told that we were going to burn in hell. We were told that we were sinners and that there was no spiritual place for us in this world. We are not going backwards. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when there were no depictions of LGBT life on television or in film. There was a time when we had no cultural role models because simply loving someone of the same sex was considered too provocative. We will not go back to being invisible. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when we were sent to therapy and mental health professionals because the shame that society put on us drove us to self-destructive behaviors. Some of us turned to drugs and alcohol to damage ourselves because people like you told us that we were already damaged. Some of us tried to take our own lives. People like you made us feel like there was something wrong with us. We will no longer harm ourselves to further empower you. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when we saw our friends and loved ones die in our arms because the government was slow to acknowledge a disease that impacted the entire world. Brilliant and beautiful people died in the prime of their lives thanks to denial and prejudice during the AIDS crisis. Some of us thought that we were going to automatically die because we were different. Those days are long gone. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when as young men and women, we found ourselves on the streets of this country because our families had thrown us out. Some of us found ourselves without a family at all because they had disowned us. We are not going back to that. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when we had to sit with our families and keep quiet about who we were. This was when people did not fully understand what it was like to be around those who were openly gay. They did not understand that we were equal and not sick. We are not going to educate our families on bigotry and acceptance all over again. We are not going to have an open mind and let them process their feelings about what it means to be bigoted all over again. We already did that. We are not doing it again.
There was a time when we spent our lives with our partner but could not be married. If our partners died, the family would come out of the woodwork and take the money and estate, as they were the next of kin. We were left broke and broken and alone. This will not happen again. We are not going back to a time when we could not be married. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when people felt empowered by their bigotry and hatred of us. They felt this so much that they tied us to fences and crucified us in the middle of the night in open fields and darkened streets and in broad daylight. They bloodied us with violent fists and killed us. We are not going back to a time when people felt protected enough to kill us. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when we had to live in secret because we could lose our jobs and be refused service at businesses for being different. The law did not protect us from being discriminated against. We had to live in secrecy to feed ourselves and our families. We are not doing that again.
There was a time when we married members of the opposite sex just so we could fit in and seem normal. We ended up ruining the lives of others by emotionally hurting our spouses and complicating the lives of our children. We are not going back to trying that normalization. We are not doing that again.
Lastly though, I will tell you what we will do. You see, there was a time when those who had been abused, beaten, and weathered rose up. And we marched and protested and fought against the hate that was all around us. That, vice-president elect, we are doing again. We will do it again and again. We are not starting over. We are moving forward. The world has changed, and we are not going back.
We stood up and risked our lives and jobs and safety to earn our seat at the table. And with the help of kind leaders and brave politicians, we got that seat. You are not taking that away. We are already at the table. We are here. We are not coming to dinner. We are already at dinner.
Martin Hyatt, NYC
Author of Beautiful Gravity