Today, we wanted to create a space for our brilliant writers and community members to share some thoughts and reflections on what this last year has been like, as a member of the LGBTQIA community or an ally. Below are some of our thoughts, along with some photos of how we’ve fought back over the past year.
What is one thing you’ve learned or realized in the last year since the election—in yourself, in your community, or in the world?
“One thing I’ve learned—that I’m still learning—is that it’s ok to not be ok all the time. I’ve seen this administration change and affect so many people in the last year. For some, they’ve had a fire lit beneath them and, maybe for the first time, they’re taking to the streets and yelling as loud as they can. I’ve seen others totally knocked down and overwhelmed by sadness and fear. For me, it varies daily, but I have undoubtedly been changed in a big way by this administration. I guess what I’m learning is to be gentle with myself and with others for how we are able to push back, and remember to take care of ourselves when things get to be too much. I try to remember that none of this is normal, so there’s no “normal” way to respond. We’re paving a new path under unbelievable circumstances, and it’s ok to feel worn down by that work.”
“In times of strife, one thing that’s certain is that you will know people’s true colors. Sometimes that means finding out ugly things about people and that can be painful. Other times it means watching people become more wonderful and powerful and beautiful than ever before. And sometimes maybe it even means becoming more wonderful and powerful and beautiful yourself, like a sneaky transformation that happens when you’re not paying attention. Either way, whether painful or beautiful, knowledge is power.”
“I’ve learned that my voice matters, and I can do more than I ever imagined. In the past year, I’ve done so many things for the first time. I’ve marched with extraordinary numbers in Washington, D.C. for women’s rights. I’ve gotten involved in state legislation testifying before State Senate and Assembly Committees for pro-trans bills. I’ve spoken at rallies—big and small. I’ve written honestly about the vulnerability, anger, pain, and hope of parenting a transgender young person at this specific time in history. I only wish it hadn’t taken a catastrophic election like that of 2016 to show me how capable I am and how much the world needs our action.”
“In the past year, I’ve realized some important truths about myself when it comes to doing activist work: My comfort levels are not my limits, and it’s important to honor my limits when I find them. I’ve experienced many burnouts since I got involved in LGBTQ+ activism in 2011, but with the current administration facilitating such an overtly anti-LGBTQ+ climate, I realize now more than ever that I need to be honest with myself around my limits. Through practicing self-care while staying engaged, I can contribute to the social and political change that is necessary for our community’s survival.”
“After the election, ‘how do I tell my children?’ was my biggest question. How do I tell them not only about the election but about the state of the world and the latest news? I have spent the last year telling them and showing them that the country is in an alarming place right now, but that we are capable of making real change and that hope is everywhere. Teaching them to make change, see the good, and spread hope is what has anchored and continues to anchor me and my family during this stormy time.”
“There were a million things running through my head after the election, and each one was charged with anger, grief, and a host of other emotions. Ultimately, one question came to the front of my mind: Will we be safe? First, I’ve had to grapple with who ‘we’ are, especially in conversation with others who are in or advocate for our community. Despite what mainstream media would have us think, the LGBTQ+ community is extremely diverse. Every time this administration is hostile to immigrants and refugees, Muslims, black people, disabled people, women, and people with so many other identities who also identify as LGBTQ+, this question resurfaces. In terms of answering it today, I’m hopeful but realistic. I don’t know if all of us will be safe, so I think our community has a responsibility, particularly those with the most privilege, to not take our personal safety as a sign of our community’s safety. Our community is under attack every time the administration tries to legitimize hate by banning Muslims from this country, repealing protections for survivors of sexual trauma, encouraging anti-Semitism, or limiting access to health care. I think the more I see those in our community with the most privilege—particularly white individuals like myself—address other forms of discrimination, the closer I get to answering that question with a strong, resounding yes.”
Tell us about something you’ve done in the last year to help you feel better, or made you feel proud?
“I’ve loved my community and I’ve loved myself. Yes, we need to fight back, we need to be fierce and powerful, but we also need to be treated with tenderness. I am giving myself permission to act with tenderness when I need tenderness and to act with ferocity when I need ferocity.”
“I have concentrated on doing two things. Two things I’ve always done, but I have upped the energy in it. I have reached out to younger folks and offered support and guidance and tried to reassure them that all will be well someday. And I have reached out to Republicans and tried to make them understand that we are talking about the lives of young people here, who didn’t ask to be gay or transgender, they just are. Additionally, I have volunteered to speak publicly whenever an opportunity has arisen.”
“I’m really proud of the second season of my YouTube series, Queer Kid Stuff! We put out an episode on consent and did a whole series on privilege with a bunch of diverse special guests. These are all really important topics that can be tricky to present to a young age group and I’m very proud of that content and how we were able to execute it.”