Now What: Stay Focused, Stand Together, Get Loud

The night after the election of Donald Trump as president, rather than gather at an anti-Trump rally, I took our three kids out to dinner to reflect.

Rather than rally, the kids really wanted to be around each other, and me. Their mom, my partner, works late on Wednesday nights so it’s usually just the kids and me at dinner. So, it was over salad, garlic knots, hot sandwiches, and pasta that the four of us rehashed the election results, reflected on our concerns, our outrage, and our fears about what to expect next.
What are we going to do, they asked?
I told them that very simply that their mama and I would do what we’ve been doing for years: Get up every day and fight for inclusion, fight for their rights and others like them—in school, in the community, and in the workplace. No matter who is president, that work continues. Our kids have needed advocates and we’ve served as their voices, and have connected with some other amazing activists and organizations to get them the supports they need (see more below).

With this new administration and Congress, however, we will have to be a lot louder, a lot more connected, and find more allies.

For those of us who came of age as activists during the Reagan years, this is nothing new. Is this time around a little scarier? I’m not sure. I was a poor kid under Reagan and it was awful, and it was no easier for my gay friends who were dying of AIDS while he stood by and did nothing. The underground was rife with music, zines, direct action, and more.  

Today, Rights and Democracy offers me hope as it’s a unifying organization that provides the space for many voices and many struggles to find a focus for our combined efforts.

I know many of us are feeling now, more than ever, that the struggles we’ve endured to ensure a modicum of rights and respect for all is slipping away. Or, could revert back to more troubled times. For many of my friends and neighbors, those troubled times never really went away. In a liberal bubble like Burlington, or Vermont, it’s easy for those with privilege to think that everything’s OK.

It’s not. It hasn’t been for a very long time, and now it’s about to get worse for many people. So, we seek out the organizations that anchor us, provide us with a collective voice bigger than our own. And, ways to show up, take action, and shape the future. Rights and Democracy is that kind of organization - for me and my family.

My kids know all too well that they have two parents who are vocal, show up, and do the hard work every day to make the world a more righteous place for everyone.

It’s because their own identities were ridiculed, even threatened, by Trump and his legion of white supremacist, racist, and bigoted followers. Those who have benefitted from a racist, capitalist system will only be emboldened now.

I have kids who are openly queer, openly trans, and one kid with a disability. The latter is afraid that he will lose his disability benefits, or have them severely curtailed, and could lose his Medicare and Medicaid if there are deep cuts or changes to either. He’s also in the midst of a program that, at the end, offers a Section 8 voucher as part of “graduation.”

The hateful campaign language toward people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender has had a lasting effect on my kids. Now, we have to fear Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s belief that being queer can be “cured” with conversion therapies.

So, as we head into a new, uncertain year, I’m looking forward to doing what I can to stand for my kids, all the kids like them and others in this vast, revolutionary struggle to keep our democracy intact, and our values rooted in human rights for all.

I hope as many of you as possible can become a contributing member and possibly make it on December 10th to the RAD annual meeting. And, then look to pull together your friends, coworkers, neighbors and others in your community to keep the dialogue, and the action, going every day, every week.

In resistance and solidarity.

Shay

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  • commented 2016-12-07 19:50:48 -0500
    Thank you for your thoughtful post -and for the inspiration it evoked in me. I’m sure that with committed people, such as you and your family, as well as the other members of RAD in Vermont, we will be able to organize to make a difference. Thanks for stepping up!

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