Acquiescence Is Not An Option: An Email Conversation With My Sister About Politics

My sister and I are very close. Although we are one year apart, my partner Eric tells people that we are basically twins. My sister Robin and I recently had a bit of a falling out. She asked me to film a video of my partner and I wishing her son, my nephew, happy birthday and to let him know that we wished we could be there for his party. Robin had once disclosed to me before the election that Shane her son was voting for Trump. She was not happy about this and said that she felt that she had raised him better than this. Less than a week after the election is when Robin asked me to film the video. When she asked me to do this I asked her if Shane voted for Trump, she then said “never mind, I need to take a break from talking to you.” I said “if that’s what you need to do, I understand.” Our mother was recently in the hospital and we were in a situation where we were basically forced to communicate with one another. Robin said some things to me that started a whole new conversation via email. Here is that conversation.

Dear Robin,

I could not sleep last night as my mind wandered in so many different directions. Some of the things you said to me last night I found disturbing. You said I need to see someone, that life moves on and I need to get over it. That I assume everyone who voted for Trump is racist. I will move on just not in the same way that you choose to. I will not give up this fight, I will not acquiesce. I am angry and scared, life for me, Eric and many of my friends will not move on in a direction that is positive for us. I am HIV positive, I have a preexisting condition. If they take away Obama care I may not be able to get or afford health care. Without healthcare I won’t be able to afford the medication that keeps me alive. I had a conversation with my doctor the other day I said I’m tired, I don’t have any fight left in me I just want to stop taking the medication and let nature take its course. Okay, this is not my scenario and I know it was somewhat cruel to scare you, but this is a very real scenario for some of our friends. Here is another scenario that can have a very hard impact on the two of us. Trump has already begun selecting his administration and each member has their own agenda. Paul Ryan wants to do away with medicare, medicaid and social security. Please don’t be so naive as to think this could not happen. This country has already proven their stupidity and that they’re not paying attention. How this will affect you and I is if Mom loses her medicaid, medicare and social security the burden will fall on you and I. She will have to live with one of us, she will have no income and no insurance. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think either one of us is in a position to pay for her health care and medication. What will we do?

Virginia voted for Trump, Eric is very angry and upset by this as he feels his own mother has betrayed him. Last Sunday he got a little drunk and lost it, through the tears he said “she can die for all I care”. Of course he doesn’t really want her to die but he is in conflict trying to reconcile how his own mother can vote for something that has made it very clear how it feels about the gay community by choosing Mike Fucking Pence. I hope I don’t have to tell you what his agenda is. I spoke with my friend Eric (not my partner) last week, he was very depressed. He told me his mother and father voted for Trump and that changes everything. He said he didn’t know if he could ever talk to them again. This is very real for us. This is not the time to give in and accept things as they are. Now is the time to arm yourself with knowledge, for knowledge is power. we must remain vigilant and not sit idly by thinking we are helpless and powerless.

Shortly after the election we spoke and you were very angry and upset that something like this could happen. I was excited as I thought you were finally getting it and that you were going to use this anger to motivate you to get involved and take a stand. I felt that you were on my side. As I said last night, you do what you need to do for you and I will do what I need to do for me. I have been telling you for many years now that you vote with your dollars. I will sign every petition, I will boycott every company that supported Trump, and yes I will assume if you voted for Trump that you are all the things that he is. In my mind there is no justification what so ever for having voted for this vile, disgusting, worthless waste of human flesh. You may see my anger as a bad thing I don’t. My anger is what motivates me to grow and learn and to stay strong in my commitments. I am now committed to learning more and getting more involved. I implore you to do the same.

There is a list of companies that supported Trump and continues to carry his products. Macy’s severed ties with Trump many months ago but is still carrying Ivanka’s clothing line. I told Eric that we are no longer shopping at Macy’s, he said “but where will I buy my underwear”? I told him we were no longer buying anything from Amazon, he said “but they just charged my card for Prime”. Eric as you know hates change. You can see by his comments, this was not something he was happy hearing. I said so you’re willing to sacrifice your principals for convenience? He then said what do we do? I said we do some research and find other alternatives. We have. While these things may seem small and that they’re not accomplishing much it is something that everyone can do today. We are much stronger in numbers, imagine if everyone that opposed our fascist president elect what we could accomplish.

If you want to talk, get involved, find out what you can do, I’m here and would be more than happy to share information with you. Whatever or however you choose to deal with things is your prerogative, just know regardless of what you choose to do that I will always love you.   

Dear Scott,

Neither will I!  I was not asking you to give up or to get over it!  I am simply concerned about your anger (hatred) towards Trump supporters!  I don’t recall those exact words they were certainly not what I meant!  I too, like you, felt hatred and anger towards anyone who supports Trump!  I absolutely despise the sick bastard and am still embarrassed he will represent this great country of ours!  Last Friday night Ron and I were out on a date in our Folsom bubble, I honestly thought I could have one night without thinking about it or feeling fearful about the future, when this “white trash” looking pick up pulled up with a young couple in it, he looked skinny and red necked, she was overweight (judgment) and they jumped out skipping along into a store!  On the truck was a Trump sticker and Hilary for prison sticker!!! I became so enraged when we got in our car and was driving away I was cussing them out and flipping them off in the store as we drove by!!  They were oblivious to me but it scared the hell out of me and Ron, that’s when I called Jason our therapist!  I also got into a fight with Shane on his birthday, he doesn’t trust politicians to begin with and simply disliked Hilary more than he disliked Trump, to him and a lot of the younger generation he represents something different, something anti-establishment!  It was their opportunity to stick it to the man and give a big middle finger up!  Are they completely educated and understand what they have really done by voting this vile person and Pence a right wing so called “Christian” conservative into office?  In my personal opinion, no, I don’t think so!  But do I believe they chose a side, or more importantly, to be against anyone’s side, I do not!  Neither have I!

You can think I’m naive, but I definitely do believe Trumps administration can and will do things to screw up this country and all of the good President Obama has done for it! 

However I do refuse to live my life in fear and “what if” for the next 4 years!  I do to choose to believe the majority of people want the same thing and are basically good and to choose to cut people out of your life because they don’t see things the same way you do is not love or acceptance! 

I, like you will continue to find ways to stand up for what I believe in by reading and getting involved in a positive way that doesn’t consume me with anger and hatred!  Guess I’m a lover not a fighter!  

I did not mean to suggest that I know what you “need” to do or “should” do!  You have always been strong and never needed my advice really! 

I’m sorry my choice not to post your article on FB hurt your feelings, it was not intentional, it was and still is my belief that it is not an appropriate place to share religious or political viewpoints!  Maybe you should ask yourself why you are offended or put off by someone sharing their religious beliefs on FB?  Is it because you don’t agree with it or because you don’t want to see it or both?  Regardless, to me it’s a place for me to connect with friends and family to share pictures and life’s shared moments!  But again that’s just how I feel about it, it wasn’t personal towards you!  Yet your statement and decision not to make a video for Shane’s birthday party, because to you he’s a traitor, and a Trump supporter regardless of whether he voted for him or not  hurt me to the core! I know you haven’t really been close to him but I still remember when we danced at the Fairmont when I was pregnant with him and you pointed at my belly during Papa don’t preach, when you couldn’t wait to hold him when he was born, I have a picture of you and him when he was a baby and he was asleep cuddled up with you, when he was mad at you in Canada yelling uncle Scott to get him out of the totem pole and when he sat on the steps next to you asking why you didn’t love Aunt Tamara any more and do you love Uncle Ron the same way?  

Let me ask you this, is it not the same thing as racism when you choose to dislike, hate or no longer love or have a relationship with someone because they don’t share the same viewpoint you do?

I am not trying to piss you off or have the last word, just wanted to express my feelings!  

I love you too!

P.S. - I spoke to Mom, she sounded good. You should call her.  Please don’t share any of this with her.  She should focus on feeling better.  Thanks!

Dear Robin,

I believe you missed the point of this email entirely. This is my perspective as a gay man and my gay friends. I did not mention this story in my last email but believe it is now relevant. Alex went to Orlando to spend the holiday with his partner Joe and Alex’s aunt. Alex’s sister lives in Orlando but he did not tell her he would be there. He found out from his niece and nephew that she voted for Trump even though he begged and pleaded with her not to. He feels betrayed by his own sister and like my partner Eric and my friend Eric he feels as though he never wants to speak to her again. The point I was trying to make is that these feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal are very raw and very real for us right now.

When you called and asked me to make a video for Shane’s birthday it wasn’t even a week after the election. You asked me to do something I wasn’t quite ready to do. You said yourself that Shane and I are not that close. You were asking me to do something that you wanted me to do, not something that I naturally felt I wanted to do. My relationship with Shane is between Shane and me. Incidentally, I did send him a text the day of his actual birthday, albeit a very short text asking if he was up. I wanted to call him but was unsure if it was too early. I was going to call if he responded to my text to wish him a happy birthday and to  discuss with him why he voted for or considered voting for Trump.

The day that I called you to ask you  to share my article on Facebook I was on top of the world as I had just been published in a very respectable online news source. As the day went on my excitement waned. Arlene was in the middle of doing something and asked if she could read it later and call me back, she never did. When I spoke to Mom, the comments that she made whether she intended to or not, hurt. When I spoke to you, you also asked if you could call me back. By the time you called me back I went from feeling on top of the world to feeling disappointed. I wanted you to do something that you didn’t want to do. You made it very clear as to why you wouldn’t do it. I was disappointed, as I felt that me being published was more important than your reasons for not sharing on Facebook. After I hung up with you as I began to think about your reasons, my feelings of disappointment soon turned to pride. I was proud of you for standing your ground and acting on your principals. I don’t know if you remember this but you called me the next morning and we went about our business. I was no longer angry, hurt, or disappointed.

As for different viewpoints go, I don’t feel this is a matter of different viewpoints. This is not Republican versus Democrat, conservative versus liberal, atheist versus christian. To me, this is a matter of right and wrong. I don’t like when people post their religious shit on Facebook, but I have not unfriended anyone as a result of their religious beliefs. I have a different viewpoint than most of my friends and family. For instance, I believe eating animal products is unethical and just plain wrong. None of my friends or family are vegan, I have not unfriended them, nor have I cut them out of my life. I respect different points of view even when I may not like them. I respect people who have different points of view, if I can have an intelligent conversation with them. This has not been the case with Trump supporters. I have not spoken to anyone who supported Trump that can give me a justifiable reason for having supported him. I do not feel that because Hillary is evil is a valid reason. I find these people to be unreasonable and even ridiculous in their way of thinking. A person who supports Trump does not support me and my rights as a fellow human being. These are not people that I want to know or engage in conversation with. As an adult I get to choose who I want to have in my life. I can’t choose my family but I can choose not to have them in my life if they don’t love and support me, and by that I mean supporting someone that has no respect for me and wants to take away my rights as a human being. Again this isn’t just a different view point, for me it is a matter of right and wrong.

I hope you’ll respect my point of view.

I’m Scott Walker and I approve this message. Love you    

Dear Scott

You win!  Well said.