“We’re with you, and you’re with us. We are bigger than bigotry, louder for love.”
Fifteen words, sent out on Twitter to the account of Hillary Clinton at 9:00 in the morning, with a picture of me, my husband, and our son Gabe, taken on the day that we finalized his adoption, the happiest day of our lives.
By noon, that tweet had over 5,000 engagements. By 3:30, it had over 90,000 impressions. By 4:00, I found myself in a bathroom stall at work, my chest heavy and tight, sad that I’d believed the progress we’d made with marriage equality had wiped the world of its hatred. I was so, so wrong.
Despite the likes and favorites, my Twitter timeline had exploded, the happy life of a Hillary Clinton supporter becoming something else, filled with expressions of anger and hatred and rage and threats. Put simply, it was deplorable. I couldn’t keep up with the notifications in time, just when I had reported one to Twitter and blocked another, 20 more had sprung up in my timeline. I had been targeted by the alt-right.
I share the following quotes with you so that you can see what happens when you voice support for Hillary Clinton on the internet, that terrible place where cowards go to make their own anger and insecurity the problem of others. For your ability to navigate hatred with the most fluidity and ease possible, I’ve grouped these expressions into categories. They are presented as they were Tweeted, despite my urge to spell-check.
These were the most common. People expressing their thoughts, too frequently with incoherence.
“smh you do realize Hillary is the biggest liar and hypocrite around right? She just wants your vote”
“so you’re happy to have another saudi funded president? #boughtoff”
“All she does is blame others for her errors. What planet are you living on.”
We are a fairly vanilla family, but I suppose that doesn’t matter to the alt-right when you’re talking about Hillary. Our family provoked the anti-immigrant crowd to take up arms.
“Don’t show that picture to the incoming waves of Muslim immigrants, they don’t approve of that sort of thing.”
“you do realize most of donations come from countries where they publicly execute gays just for being gay...??”
“Gotta import those Syrian, anti LGBT refugees! Hellary will get it done! Syrian Refugees are great LGBT allies! LOL!”
Our picture was taken in a courthouse in New Jersey, on the happiest day for our family. I don’t think we were in Benghazi, but that didn’t seem to matter.
“Hillary won’t admit she got 4 Americans killed and purposely got top secret information leaked. Unqualified and should be in”
“Congrats you guys! Be sure to run hard and fast if you see Muslims in your social places. For your safety!”
“except for the soldiers she killed at Benghazi right?”
The Grammatically… Challenged Tweets
Too easy. Way, way too easy. Pour a glass of something and go to my timeline @AnthonyRomeo1 for more.
The Family Tweets
These were the ones that bent my knees and flooded my eyes, because they live outside the realm of politics. Sharing my family’s picture with Hillary Clinton meant that I had to read the following:
“The only thing you should be feeling is a rope around your neck pederast”
“This is not a family. This is a social experiment... Enjoy it while it last. #FourthReich coming!”
“5 years later they’ll be in the news over child rape.”
“Someone call child protection services. Kid’s gonna get molested eventually.”
“How many times have you freaks molested that poor child? You can see it written all over his expression.”
“Disgusting. Odds are those degenerates will molest him. Lifetime of therapy guaranteed.”
“You sodomites make me sick, all of you will be put in camps and forced to wear a pink triangle, then gassed with bug spray”
“Child abuse. You’re ruining this poor boy’s life to live out fantasies of dressing him up like a doll etc.”
“Odds on these fags raping the boor boy? Disgraceful this is allowed”
I’m ok with a civil discourse over political disagreement, I really am. I miss the days when I could debate fans of Bernie Sanders, and engage them on issues that mattered. My friend Samantha was and still is a big supporter of Senator Sanders, and the conversations that she and I had really helped inform my opinion on issues that required me to be challenged.
By all means, challenge me. I love a real debate, a real conversation, and listening to opinions that are different than my own; the only way we grow and evolve is when people with whom we disagree are able to thoughtfully and intelligently articulate the intersection of their passion and their experience to us.
But this was not a coming-together of ideas, or policy proposals. This wasn’t a discussion, or a conversation. It lives and breathes as a testament of what happens when folks like Senator John McCain aren’t there to lead the way, to diffuse hate, to mitigate ignorance, and to assuage fears.
This is where we are, friends. We have allowed a world to be created where the sharing of a family picture causes an eruption of hatred, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, racism and vitriol.
Look, I’m as much in the tank for Hillary Clinton as you’re going to find, after a careful and thoughtful exploration of real policy proposals and evaluation of the totality of decades of public service, marred by the fear-mongering and whisper campaigns of those who have sought her political and personal destruction.
But this goes beyond political affiliation. We are at a crossroads, and while the victories of marriage equality leave us thinking that all is well for families like mine, we’d do well not just to remember the vast swaths of people who still hate us, but to use moments like these to guide our actions, to allow them to force upon us a self-empowerment to right the wrong.
There is no sideline for my family. There is only every day, lived fully, scorched to the ground when reminded that sharing our love with the world opens us up to the heat of hatred magnified by the veil of the internet. This is our world. A tiny boy and two dads whose job is just to get him through it.
To say that the entire future of our family might depend on voter turnout in November? That I have to spend the next 50 days living and dying with every poll showing that voices like these might take the White House? It’s too much.
Hillary, we love you, and we’re still with you. But gosh, are days like today hard on the heart.
Fight for us, okay?