What follows is the piece I read for Meditation On A Theme at the Gay & Lesbian Center in New York City on December 16, 2016. The theme was ‘My Fellow Americans…’ All of the pieces that night dealt with the election results. The response in the room was really enthusiastic – moreso than for anything else I had previously presented. I had every intention of posting it here, but procrastinated. Now, over a month later on Inauguration Day, I’m not sure if I am posting it too late. Or too soon. Maybe it’s the perfect day to do it. I don’t know. Here it is:
I don’t even know what to say – in the end I thought I would get up here and just walk around shaking my head and doing different shrugs for 10 minutes. This is what I feel like I do all day since the election.
Honestly, I did not want to come here tonight. When I write for Meditation On A Theme, I immerse myself in the material and think about it 24/7, for better or for worse. That’s the only way I know how to get to the meat of the matter. I totally creeped myself out with the Kitty Genovese murder I talked about last time I was here. I was afraid to walk alone at night in my neighborhood. Cuz, ya know, I’m such a delicate young thing.
But here we have a topic that is forcing me to face the very thing that I have been trying to avoid for the past 6 weeks. I’m one of those people who watches the morning news, the evening news, the 11 o’clock news and the rest of the time, if there is nothing good on TV, then I switch on MSNBC or CNN… while I’m scrolling around the internet. That all changed on Election night when I turned off the TV around 11:00 pm. Things weren’t looking good and I just knew how this was going to end up. At 3:00 am I woke up and looked at my phone – there was a CNN headline on a black background that just said “President Trump.” And I put the phone down. And I couldn’t sleep. And I stayed off Facebook for a couple of days. I put the TV on an environmental music channel. Who knew Enya was still a thing? I didn’t want to hear any more talking about the election. Because with all this talking, we still ended up here. He won… No. He is perceived to have won. No amount of talking bobble head media analysis was going to change that. I just wanted everyone to just shut the fuck up. Well… now a little time has passed and I’ve eased back into it all a bit, but still… coming here tonight to talk about it was not my idea of a good time.
And then I thought I had the hook into the ‘My Fellow Americans..’ theme: Four years ago I was on a jury for a murder trial – 6 weeks I spent on that case. Both sides agreed that the guy committed the murder and that he had a history of mental illness… the debate was whether he was guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. Almost every juror started deliberations feeling as I did – that he was guilty. But one by one the jurors started getting coerced by these two jurors who muddled up the facts of the case and kept sharing their own personal experiences with schizophrenics, which was completely unethical. And there were jurors who were willing to compromise and vote for acquittal just to end the trial “for the victims of the family, who had suffered long enough.” But I don’t think any victim’s family would be happy with a not guilty verdict that was compromised just for closure…. and you start to question how these jurors who have seen the same thing you have seen and heard the testimony and saw the evidence and can turn around and completely say the exact opposite of the truth. Of what you KNOW is true. And you start to think: Something is not right here. What is going ON here? Is it me? And this year, as this election progressed, I would see these completely fake news stories and watch these fucking Trump spokespeople twist the truth… not even TWIST the truth but just out and out LIE about things that that asshat had said on LIVE television just minutes before. And then people on Facebook would either believe it…. or dismiss the whole thing. And I kept feeling like I was back in that jury room. And you start to wonder if you stepped into some bizarro world where common sense is out the window.
But there was this one other person in the deliberation room… this one female juror – early 20’s, very quiet, very stylish. And as the numbers shifted from 10 for guilty and 2 not guilty and then it was 8-4, and then 5-7… and we’d catch each other’s eye, like… what the hell is going here? And we started sticking together for the sake of sanity, and looked to each other for strength and stuck to our guns and said… NO. This isn’t right. This is NOT right. It was just like 12 Angry Men, but in reverse.
And this is how I have felt watching all this – like that jury room was this microcosm – this cross section of society. We ended in a hung jury and then the following year, a different jury convicted the guy. But unfortunately, for all of us here and now, there is no hung presidential election. There is no do-over. We all just look at each other and shrug and shake our heads…
So that was topic #1, and then I went back to the theme and thought about it. “We the people.” When I did go back to Facebook… MY Facebook, that is. See – that’s what you have to do – you have to make it your own. You control your settings – you control what you subject yourself to and what you don’t. You need to feel free to send people to the cornfield, as it were. Banish them to Bogeyland.
In recent years I reconnected with a lot people from my childhood and teen years. The number of Facebook friends I have from high school is much larger than the number of friends I actually HAD in high school. And when you are talking about music or TV or posting pics of your dinner or your pets or your pets’ dinner, it’s easy to think that everybody’s awesome and wonder… why weren’t we closer friends back then? Well… not anymore. Stupid stupid people who never got the HELL off Long Island and fell for this orange buffoon’s line of garbage and believe all that Breitbart bullshit and forward fake news all over the goddamn place. Unfollow unfollow unfriend unfriend block block BLOCK.
And this one dipshit was one of the people right after the election who posted that pic of Trump at the rally with the rainbow flag with LGBT FOR TRUMP scrawled on it (The flag was UPSIDE DOWN but neither Cheeto Voldemort nor his flunkies knew or cared. They just told him to hold it up for 20 seconds and the unwashed masses would eat it up. Sure enough, they fucking did.)
So this former friend who I never really liked too much anyway is one of those whose voting obviously upset some gay person in his life. He was re-posting that pic with the message “I voted for him, but we got your back. Nothing bad is going to happen to your rights.” And the problem right there is that… well, there are several problems, really. Really? You think you have power? ANY power over that? And you really think so little of the gay people in your life and your hatred of Hillary is so intense that you are willing to jeopardize MY rights? Or the reproductive rights of any female you know? Because it’s ultimately secondary to you. It’s not important enough for you. *Unfriend* Goodbye! To the cornfield with you!
I don’t care about these people. Just let them go. Make your Facebook your own, because you have to stay present with what is going on. Fill your newsfeed with people who you want to converse with. Debate if you want. I’ll debate with likeminded people who have differences of opinion on how to handle this mess, but I’m through with calling this a level playing field for everyone anymore. As quickly as I make people go away, I find more reasonable people to associate with.
I have no time or interest in continuing to address people who say shit like “Now you know how I’ve felt for the past 8 years.” Really? You were scared for your safety? Was the legality of your marriage ever in jeopardy? Your healthcare? Your reproductive rights? What manufactured fear of your rights were you afraid for, which didn’t even happen? Everybody’s still got their guns that Obama was supposedly coming for. These people under the delusion of “Fox News thinking” believe that Obama was the worst president ever. They wouldn’t give him credit for the lowered gas prices, but you can bet they’d blame him if gas prices were sky-high. And DO you care about the environment AT ALL? Such nonsense.
Maybe I’ve missed this but here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Wouldn’t you LOVE to see the stats on who just doesn’t bother to file taxes this year? What kind of example has been set? Just don’t pay your taxes! And what does it say to people when every single cabinet appointment is about nepotism and paying back a buddy who donated money and there are NO qualifications? What does that do to the psyche of Our Fellow Americans? The most experienced, qualified presidential candidate EVER has been bested by the most inept charlatan ever to run for the office. I still will not say he won. This election was stolen. Fuck them. It’s not my president, or yours. I have no respect for that office when the Republicans had no respect for it for the past 8 years.
If you voted for that windbag piece of shit, I’m sorry, but you’re out. It’s a waste of my time. So you make them go away. But we can’t just unplug from what’s going on. We have to pay attention.
I’m not just talking about Facebook – use whatever platform you want. When I say Facebook, more often than not I’m referring to links to opinion pieces on other sites. There have been plenty of times in the past few weeks when I didn’t know what to say, or I couldn’t find the words to express how I was feeling, and it was the words of other people that made me feel validated.
Right after the election John Oliver said you need to put this on a post-it. This is not normal. Put it on your fridge – read it every day. They are going to try to normalize his behavior. Don’t let them. Do not get to a place where this is “normal” to you. This is not. Normal. I see this every day and I post this often. I have a .jpg of a post-it that says This is not normal. And I keep it on my desktop and use it as commentary frequently.
I know that it’s preaching to the choir but sometimes you HAVE to, for your own sake and theirs. Sometimes you have to raise your voice to remind yourself what it sounds like and to know that you still can.
So I have two mantras: This Is Not Normal. And the other is this: She won the popular vote. She. Won. When you can’t stand the thought of all that hate out there and feeling like a majority of the people voted for this clown, remember – she won the popular vote by 2.8 million. That’s higher than the population of 14 different states. We are the majority.
“For the sake of our children and our families and our country, I ask you to stay engaged, stay engaged on every level. We need you. America needs you. Your energy, your ambition, your talent. That’s how we get through this. That’s how we help to make our contributions to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.” —Hillary