FAIR WARNING: THIS POST WILL CONTAIN PERSONAL INFORMATION, STRONG LANGUAGE AND CONTENT.
Tonight I marched alongside my friends from Union Square to Trump Tower. I walked with them, and chanted, and screamed, and cried, and laughed, and held hands. I high fived drivers we were blocking in the road and screamed into the void. It felt good. It felt REALLY good.
Then it hit me. Hard. And I saw my family, my ancestors, being marched into concentration camps and gas chambers. I remembered the stories of the 1967 Detroit riot my family has recounted for me. I remembered the photos and stories of Stonewall and ACT UP riots I have scrolled through. I have not lived through any of these events, but they have all affected my world in unimaginable ways.
I am homosexual. I have been out of the closet for years. I will NEVER let the voices of my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters be silenced. I will NEVER stop fighting for transgender rights, for marriage equality, for what I believe in. I will NOT be a part of the inevitable headline in a newspaper tallying the number of queer kids who have committed or attempted suicide since last night. I will NOT hide any longer. I can no longer support my friends who make the decision not to use their voices. I understand that some people are not in safe situations to come out, but I know far more people who choose selectively when to embrace their queerness or hide it. I will no longer tolerate my friends or family who will not speak up.
I am culturally Jewish. I struggle with this a lot. I cannot believe that there are people in this world who consider themselves Jewish that have voted for someone like Donald Trump. I cannot believe that people are so blind to antisemitism in this world (an extension of the enormous amount of xenophobia). I cannot believe that a man who has been academically compared to Hitler is our next president. My great-grandmother wanted me named “Jonathan” on my birth certificate out of genuine fear that my heritage would come to haunt me as it did her. I am proud of my name. It is not a joke. I may not understand spirituality right now, but I know that the morals my Jewish upbringing has instilled in me have given me the power to live my life as fully as I can.
I have been sexually assaulted. I am okay. I promise. I have never put the label of “sexual assault survivor” on myself. I have never told anyone the story in terms of it being an assault. I removed myself from the situation immediately. I reported it to the right people and it was handled quickly and professionally. I was smart, I was strong, and I was not afraid. I do not know why or where that strength came from, but I am glad it was there. I am more afraid now than I was then. I am terrified to see a man who has been accused of sexually assaulting so many women, who has talked about “grabbing them by the pussy”, who has said vile and derogatory things about his own daughter, in office. I know far too many victims of sexual assaults to feel even semi-comfortable knowing what he has done and been accused of.
I have clinical depression. I have been told that I am worthless. I have been bullied. I have been told that I brought the bullying and hatred upon myself. Luckily, I have also been surrounded by some of the most amazing, complex, support systems I could ever hope for. My family has supported me and my friends have too. In my darkest hours, my friends have held me and comforted me. I AM HERE FOR ANYONE WHO NEEDS ME TO BE. I consider myself a fierce and loyal friend. My friends are my family and they know that.
I have been raised by some kickass women. My mother, my grandmothers, my stepmother, my great-grandmothers, my aunts, my cousins, my teachers, my mentors, my friends, my peers… the women in my life are astounding. I will not allow their well-being to be in danger.
My plight is still one of great privilege. I am white. I am male. I am a citizen of this country. I am inherently privileged. I will always stand by my friends who are not any of those things.
So I’m done with hate. I’m done with bigotry. There isn’t room for it in my life anymore.
I have remained Facebook friends with people who have participated in this hatred. I will be removing them promptly. Those of them who have bullied me or others will now disappear from my life.
WE CANNOT TOLERATE HATRED ANYMORE. I am not always positive. I am not always happy. I am not always as kind as I could be. I make mistakes. I own up to that. But I will no longer allow myself to participate in hatred of any kind.
Instead, I will create more. I will create with my peers, my friends, my family. I will create art that discusses these issues. I will create art that distracts from these issues. I will create art that will comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
I will not let my voice be silenced.
I will not accept that my journey is done.
I will not accept this bigot as an influence in my life.
I will fight for my rights and for others’ as well.
I will be on the right side of history.
And I will tell my children about this.
And they will be safe.
And so will our rights.