Why I’m Gone
“We can disagree and still like each other.”
That is what Trump Supporter, a younger relative of mine, wrote to me after telling me that (1) NY had recently passed a law allowing women to abort fully-grown “children” and (2) CNN, the NY Times, the Washington Post and the AP wire were all too “biased” as news sources (but apparently Breitbart or whatever internet sludge from which she’d dragged this “information” is fine), and then implying that either (or both) she didn’t support the rights of trans people and/or queer people and/or there was nothing wrong with the Trump Administration hunting down “illegals” (even those who came here seeking asylum), separating the children from their families, and allowing at least one of the children to die in government custody. Months ago, this same Trump Supporter wrote to me that the football players who knelt in protest during the national anthem were wrong and were showing “DISREASPECT” (sic; all-caps hers, and showing no disrespect to her interlocutor at all, somehow).
She said all this condescendingly to a queer woman whose partner identifies as genderqueer, who is the daughter of an immigrant, who has numerous friends, found family and heroes who are trans or genderqueer. (And, I might add, to an older relative. Kids these days.)
This is not disagreeing over what flavor ice cream is best; this is disagreeing over the value of peoples’ lives. Trump Supporter made it clear she does not care about the lives of people like me and my friends — or people very unlike me, for that matter — and prefers to support racist, transphobic, homophobic, sexist policies over supporting someone she supposedly loves. Or likes. I forget exactly how she phrased it. It hardly matters, since neither claim is very believable, given the evidence. The attitude is of the “bless your heart”/Christian tolerance variety, so after what was effectively a declaration of disregard/disrespect for me and mine, I am supposed to tolerate/like/love her, grateful for her magnanimity.
If I refuse to capitulate to this, if I refuse to participate in this relationship that allows her to believe her dehumanizing beliefs are benign and are within her right to express, then I will wind up being the bad guy, the knee-jerk liberal who just couldn’t compromise. Never mind that the only compromise is tolerance of a system of dangerous, violent, cruel beliefs.
It’s a nasty game of chicken out of which I’m opting. I have come to believe that something really bad is coming down the pike, something fascist-dictator-regime-America-first-white-power-concentration-camp-related, and I’m truly scared for my life and the lives of other outsiders. I’ve actually run escape-the-US scenarios in my head recently. I still have the little inverted black triangle on a necklace I got when I first came out. (If you’re not sure what that is, google it.) I’ll feel overjoyed and very lucky if my dire worries do not come to pass, but I don’t harbor a lot of hope at this point. This is not simply a philosophical disagreement. It’s my life, it’s my partner’s life, and it’s the lives of millions of people I’ll never meet.
I imagine that some folks will tell me family should “trump” politics, but “politics” by definition refers to the distribution of power. That’s not trivial. The “sit-down-and-shut-up” attitude of many Trump supporters of late is not only exhausting, it’s offensive. Not because I am — once again — being silenced (I’ve grown used to that, being a woman, a lesbian, a disabled person, a first-gen person… I’m empowered in many ways, but these factors can sometimes outweigh that empowerment; most of us have such lists.) My duty to family does not extend to supporting those who denigrate or abuse me or other people, or who harbor beliefs that excuse that kind of denigration or abuse. Why should I enter into a polite relationship with someone who clearly does not see me, my partner or many of my friends as her equal?
This is so wrong, it’s Reich.
I can disagree with you over ice cream flavors or favorite books and still like you. I cannot disagree with you about protecting the dignity, safety and equality of all people and still like you. (We can disagree about the best way to do that, but not about the fact that it should be done.) If you think such beliefs are coequal with benign preferences, then I’d tell you to check your privilege.
I suppose it’s your right in this country to express whatever racist, transphobic, homophobic, nasty little beliefs you harbor, but free speech doesn’t mean your speech has no consequences, nor does it mean I have to silently listen and tolerate your dangerous ideas.
Just as it’s your right to express your thoughts, it’s my right to avoid you and refuse to listen to your cruel, selfish ugliness.