Five days. Five days through emergency oral surgery and menstruation, though Enbrel and methotrexate absence, through chocolate ice cream overdose (yes, there IS such a thing) and sick pets, through the sheer toxicity of the current election cycle and a bored and therefore very high-key demon diva dog and no Deadpool on auto-play (damn you blu-ray and the broken door you rode in on) I’m standing.
Which is to say, I’m pretty damned proud.
This is a proofread and somewhat tweaked version of what I originally posted to Facebook to my immediate friends:
To my friends, especially those among you who support Trump, a request: please read this. I know it’s long. Just please read it. And please leave some sort of marker, even a blank comment to let me know that you’ve seen it. I would really like to know which of my friends will do me the favor of reading it and showing up. Thank you.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. – John 13:34
I remember reading a Buddhist parable about three blind monks who discover an elephant. They were each facing the elephant from a different direction, and each described the elephant by only what they can reach. The first monk could only feel the tail, and so described it as long and thin like a snake. Another felt only the trunk and said, “No, it’s muscular and strong like an arm.” The third touched only the leg and called it solid and tall like a tree.
They were all right. But they were all wrong, too.
We very rarely see the whole picture. Every experience is valid but it is not the whole picture.
I am afraid. I have friends of all races who are afraid. I have LGBTQ friends and disabled friends and female friends who are afraid.
I know that my friends who voted for Trump did not do so because they are racist and sexist and homophobic. If they were, we wouldn’t be friends.
That is fact.
But because we’re friends, I beg you: Believe us when we say we are afraid. Our experiences are different; believe us. Listen to us; understand why we’re afraid. Ask questions. Don’t dismiss our fears or be an expert on why we shouldn’t be afraid. Don’t “Yeah, but…” us.
Anything you say will just be seen as an attempt to dismiss our fears.
Listen. Believe us. Our experiences are different, and our fears are valid.
Love one another as I have loved you. This is Christ’s commandment: love one another as I have loved you.
My racially diverse friends fear the symbols of hate that are erupting: a KKK “victory” parade (source: CBS ). They fear threatened with being set on fire if they don’t remove their holy symbol. (Source: Click on Detroit). The messages of threats and hate against everyone (Source BBC.com). They fear the actions of racists who threaten them, abuse them, and harass them. It has never stopped, but is now out in the open for anyone with eyes to see. It’s not just normalized. It’s celebrated. When people who are different from you tell you that they are afraid because of these things, believe them.
My disabled friends and those of us who have pre-existing conditions are afraid that, in the repeal of Obamacare, we will no longer be insurable. Many of us, without insurance, will not be able to have any sort of functional life. We may lose our homes or livelihoods. Or lives. Solutions are possible, and we must work together. But we must start here: Believe us. We are afraid.
My LGBTQ friends are afraid because their rights, which have been affirmed by the Supreme Court, may be lost. My friends fear that their families will lose protections for themselves and their children if that happens. Many fear that violence, which has already been perpetrated against the LGBTQ community will escalate, and we fear for our safety and their lives. Believe us.
My female friends and I are afraid of the further normalization of sexual assault. One in five women are sexually assaulted every year in the United States and 63% of sexual assaults go unreported (Source: National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Why so high? We are afraid. The Brock Turner trial showed us that–even when rapists are caught in the act–very little is done about it. Sexual assault victims are summarily blamed and discounted. We are not believed. We are not supported. Even when the “best case scenario” happens, even when rapists are caught in the act, we are subject to further abuse by the legal system and the absolute rejection of our personhood. And we, those who have experienced sexual assault, find ourselves with a President-elect who dismisses talk of “grabbing them by the pussy” as “locker room talk.”
It is not.
We are many, the sexual assault survivors, who know the difference between vulgarity and bragging about “not even waiting.” Believe us.
Love one another as I have loved you.
Love us. Allow that love for us to make room for belief: if you trust us, you’ll know that, whatever you may know from other sources, you can believe what we say. Believe that this is our starting point: love and belief. Attempt to see things through our eyes. Look for things that may reinforce our fears. Be aware of them.
My friends, believing us is only the first step, but it’s a huge one. It is the foundation of our friendship, this need to be supported by our friends. If we are not loved and supported by our friends, then, well, we’re not friends.
That is also fact.
The second step which builds upon the first is this: stand up. When you see and hear incidents that endanger your friends, stand up. Speak out. Stand up against it. Protect your friends. Use your voice. Confirm your love for your friend and condemn the actions of hate.
This is NOT about politics. This is about loving and protecting your friends. This is about lovers–in the true sense of the word and not some sexualized sense–standing with their loved ones.
Above all, please, please remember these incidents. They are happening, and we need you to see them. Remember them, and remember that this is why we’re afraid.
No matter how we voted, we are one nation. One people. If we don’t look out for one another, if we don’t take care of one another, how can build bridges and heal our nation? How can we fulfill Christ’s commandment?
This is a call to love, my friends, a call that requires action and not just empty words. It is a call to love that requires requires the integrity to match deed to word. I require active lovers: lovers of beauty, lovers of kindness, lovers of friends and of laughter and of good stories. This isn’t about politics or debates or even fears. This is about love, and the call to love. This is the cry in the wilderness, calling a pack, inviting a tribe, creating a family.
You either answer the call or you do not. It really is that simple.
If you call yourself my friend and yet you are not willing to do these two small things, to believe me and to stand up for me, please just go. Leave my world. Unfriend me and go. Get out of my life. I have no room for you.
I will still love you.
But I will love you from a very, very far distance.
As for me, I will stand with the lovers, the ones who answer the call.
My pack. My tribe.