What have we done? As I look back on the last year and a half, I think what have we done.
A few days ago, amidst all the stress and anxiety felt rippling through our nation, I sent out a Facebook event invite. We were all so caught up in the excitement and fear of the election, no one had made a plan as for the night of Tuesday, Nov. 8. I say “we” because I am gay. At times like this, it feels good to be around other LGBTQ people: on the night the marriage equality law was passed, we flocked to Flaming Saddles, a gay bar in West Hollywood, the hub of rainbow culture. When 50 of our people were murdered in Orlando, we stood together, brave, scared and teary eyed at The Abbey, the famed West Hollywood gay bar. I wanted Tuesday night to be the same—I knew we needed to be with our community. We thought we’d be able to ring in our first female president together. We were wrong.
I guess I always had this idea in my head that the good guy beats the bad guy—or in this case, the good girl. As my friends and I stood at The Abbey last night, watching our country slip through our fingers, we saw laughter turn to sadness, sadness turn to fear and finally, fear turn to pain. In the dim red lighting, we stood around the television sets and listened to reporters incite panic throughout the massive, multi-room bar. I use the word “bar” lightly because this isn’t just a bar; this is our place. I look around and am paralyzed with memories. This place we’ve spent countless nights in dancing, sweating, kissing, smoking, drinking, laughing, felt such joy in, built a community in, fell suddenly barren and silent. I looked around: black people, Muslims, disabled people, gay people, trans people, gogo dancers in speedos standing still, holding hands—we all just stared at each other. We were scared.
“What’s going to happen to us?” I overheard as I downed my third Stella Artois. We tried to make jokes. A lesbian couple, two of my close friends, joked about how they’d have to get a divorce. My best friend and I teased that we’d be bunkmates in a Pence-led electroshock therapy camp. I’d be the popular one. We’d get so much pussy. We tried to make jokes. But it’s not funny. None of this is a joke.
Around 11:30 p.m., we left. My best friend Gaby and I got in the car and drove to her apartment. She had shed tears at the bar, I had not. Not two minutes into the car ride, I got two texts. From one friend, “I have no words or thoughts.” From the second, “Oh my god. I’m so sorry this happened. We tried. I love you so much.” I opened Twitter to the headline I never thought I’d see: “Donald Trump elected president of the United States.”
“He won,” I muttered as I burst into tears. Gaby held my leg as I held my head in my hands and reiterated the overwhelming feeling we had been grappling with the whole night: “What’s going to happen to us?” We walked into Gaby’s apartment, shut the door and just held each other. I sobbed into her shoulder. “How did this happen?”
I’ll tell you how it happened. 58 percent of white people voted for Trump; 53 percent of men, 42 percent of women. White people, what have you done? I had faith that our country was progressive and inclusive; that wasn’t realistic. This wasn’t fear; this was a white lash at the progress we’ve made. People aren’t scared, they are racist and misogynistic. What’s going to happen to women? What’s going to happen to people of color? What’s going to happen to disabled people? LGBTQ? Latinos? Muslims?
Many sentiments were traded last night, both in person and online: “I’m here for you,” “I’ll fight for you,” “You’re not alone.” Prove it. Those of us in marginalized groups are here for each other, that I know. But we were told last night that we don’t matter to white people. So, to the privileged in our country, to the people who want to help, to the men and majority groups: We’re going to keep fighting, but will you? We only fight because we have no choice. It’s not on us anymore. This is on you. It’s your time to stand up for us. You’re the ones who need to be mobilized.
Men, that means saying you’re a feminist. No, fuck that—that means stopping sexual assault dead in its tracks. It means standing up to your white, racist relatives and telling them we aren’t that country anymore. No more standing by. When you see a woman being cat-called, stand up for her. If you witness sexual harassment at work, fix it. When you hear a gay slur, correct them. When you hear something racist, shut them down. It’s on you now to help us. No more white guilt. Say it out loud: Black. Lives. Matter.
It’s time to start normalizing. I’m looking at you, public figures. It’s time to show racist, misogynist America that things are different now. Taylor Swift, how dare you not speak up in an election this important. Swift remained deafeningly silent throughout the duration of the election, never showing support for either candidate. No more silence. No more indifference. It’s time to make choices. We have run out of time for white silence. Public figures must use their platforms for good now. They must speak up for LGBTQ rights. They must speak up for Black Lives Matter. I’m sickened by the reticence of Taylor Swift and any other celebrity who didn’t fight for this nation.
And to the media: you’re at fault. Fuck you, Jimmy Fallon. You normalized him. You humanized him. You shoved him down our throats, broadcast him and turned him into a character instead of exposing him for the monster he truly is. You equated him to Hillary. You obsessed over a bullshit email scandal, which time and time again, was proved to be a non-story. You put him on Saturday Night Live. You called her corrupt. You called her a liar. You didn’t call him a rapist. You didn’t call him a rapist.
We’ve allowed a chauvinist who proudly declared “grab her by the pussy,” a man who will go on trial in the next month for raping a child, a man with no experience in government or politics, a racist, run the free world. Picturing Hillary having to call that person, hold her breath and congratulate him is disgusting. She doesn’t deserve this and neither do we.
I’m tired. I’m hungover. I have mascara down to my chin. Scrolling through Twitter, I echo the sentiments of my marginalized friends: “numb,” “devastated,” “disgusted.” If this election proved anything, it’s how much we hate women. This was an act of hate. This was selfish. And to those I know personally who voted for Trump; thanks for saying out loud that you don’t care about anyone but yourself. Nothing was at stake for you; our literal lives are at stake. It breaks my heart to see the swarm of wealthy, white men in red hats celebrating today—as if straight white men needed something more to celebrate. Trump gave these people an outlet to behave badly and now they’re being rewarded for their behavior. It feels like America is a social experiment that finally failed.
We’re not going to watch cat videos on Facebook today to “numb the pain.” No more stupidity. If I see one more fucking avocado meme I will burn the Internet to the ground. We have to fix this. Learn from this. Your white privilege has simultaneously won and expired. Use your voice. If you’re reading this and thinking, “suck it up,” that means you have the privilege to be unaffected by this travesty and god do I envy you.
It’s like Hillary said this morning in her courageous speech, “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” Donald Trump is #NotMyPresident, but he is yours. Speak up.