Growing up, my family talked a lot about how voting in presidential elections was a "civic duty." The basic idea was that, what was most important was whether or not you voted, not who you voted for. It was a pretty idea, and it was one I wanted to believe. I liked the idea that I could disagree with someone, we could even vote for candidates on the opposite side of the spectrum, but we would still respect and love one and other. But nothing has challenged that idea of bipartisan love and respect for me as much as watching the 2016 election results roll in. As I've seen more and more states carried by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, I can't help but think about the individual people who cast those ballots. I can't help but wonder about other parents, parents maybe very much like me in so many other ways, who somehow thought this man was the best choice for president of our nation. Fellow parents, if you voted for Donald Trump, I have to ask: Do I matter to you at all?
I'm not trying to be dramatic here. The fact is that I am gay, working class, a mother. A Donald Trump presidency might be completely disastrous for my family. And unlike many people fantasizing about leaving for Canada, I do not have the resources to find greener grass elsewhere. I'm stuck. I will probably lose my health insurance. And he will try to overturn the marriage equality ruling that makes my life — and my family's life — just a little bit more bearable. And to be frank, I'm one of the more privileged people who will be negatively impacted by a Donald Trump presidency. To a certain degree, the fact that I'm white and carry white privilege shields me.
If you aren't a homophobe, if you aren't a racist, if you do believe that my family and families like mine deserve to have rights, to grow and thrive... then how do you square that? When you sit down and decide that you like Donald Trump better because of economic reasons or whatever the hell it is you think, do you even consider the fact that people like me exist?
No one in my life has had the courage to tell me that they were voting for Trump, but I'm well aware that some must be. These are people who are not outwardly homophobic, who would never say to my face that I don't deserve a marriage certificate. They would also never say that my son doesn't deserve to go to the doctor when he's sick. But quietly, they vote for a politician who would aim to take those things away from us. And while many people see only the most extreme of Trump voters, I'm well aware that there are many many other people who chose to vote for him simply because they saw him as the "lesser of two evils." To be perfectly honest, I'm not quite sure how anyone could come to that conclusion, but I'm at least aware that some people have.
But if you aren't a homophobe, if you aren't a racist, if you do believe that my family and families like mine deserve to have rights, to grow and thrive... then how do you square that? When you sit down and decide that you like Donald Trump better because of economic reasons or whatever the hell it is you think, do you even consider the fact that people like me exist? Because it feels like you must not, like the only way you could possibly come to that conclusion is to completely ignore me. I could be your friend, your family member, whatever, but I'm so small in your mind as to be completely invisible.
It's insulting and mean for sure, but the alternative is possibly worse. Maybe you did think of me, but when you sat down and looked over all the issues (as I'm sure you must have done) you decided that my wellbeing and happiness was worth sacrificing. Does that sound harsh? Well it should, because it is harsh. When you choose to vote for a candidate who is against LGBTQIA people, you are throwing all of us under the bus. You are saying, quite clearly, that even though you don't personally hate me for being queer, you're OK with me being discriminated against and having my rights stripped, because that's a fine trade of for other political gains, as far as you're concerned.
I'll remember (because I'm never allowed to forget) that the people who want to "agree to disagree" with me are happy to vote against his family.
And it isn't just me. I have a child, a child who will be affected by whoever is president for the next four to eight years. This person will shape the world he grows in, and will help shape the rights of the people who are raising him. So it isn't only me and other queer people you're hurting, it's our children as well.
Does none of that matter to you? Are we, am I, so inconsequential in your mind that you have been able to look past all that? Is it that you lack compassion and empathy in general, or is it that you haven't taken the time to think about the fact that there are people who are different than you in the world? And if you are a parent, how does that work? How would you like it if people were voting against your family, and your right to build that family the way that felt best to you? Would it break your heart to learn that folks who you love, and that you thought loved you, thought it was just fine to sacrifice your rights? Because I'll tell you something, it breaks my heart. It scares me and it worries me, and it also breaks my heart.
The one silver lining is that my child is still too young to have questions about the election. But he won't stay that way. Next time, he'll be older, and I'm sure he'll have things that he'll wonder about. And then, I'll have to make a decision. I'll be tempted to feed him the old line about how we can all "agree to disagree," but then I'll remember (because I'm never allowed to forget) that the people who want to "agree to disagree" with me are happy to vote against his family. I can't think of how I will manage to explain that to a child, because frankly, it doesn't make any sense.
Could I really matter so little to you as to make you feel OK about voting for Donald Trump? That doesn't seem real to me, it doesn't seem like anyone could be that thoughtless. But then again, nothing about this election seems real, nothing at all.