For the majority of my young life, I was constantly reminded by many of my peers that my sexual identity was immoral and offensive.
Some of my best friends were outwardly and shamelessly homophobic, and I genuinely believed that I would become estranged from them if I chose to come out. A typical young girl’s fear of rejection, and a desire for acceptance, deeply affected my high school experience.
When I came to UR, I felt unshackled, free to love whomever I wanted, and confident that my expressions of that love would be respected and viewed as normal. After a year of adjusting to this newfound acceptance, I stopped hesitating when introducing my girlfriend to others.
Walking hand-in-hand across campus with another girl felt unremarkable. When meeting new people, I didn’t feel that my sexuality was an elephant in the room that needed to be addressed—it came up as naturally as if I had been straight.
I felt comfortable in my own skin for the first time. I began to believe that the oppressive elements of the community where I grew up represented an ignorant minority in a greater and more enlightened America.
Last Wednesday at 3 a.m., I came to the sudden realization that I had been naïve.
I watched in horror as, after executing a shamelessly hateful and fear-mongering presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump delivered his victory speech. I was in shock that such a significant portion of Americans would vote for a man who had attacked and demeaned women, people of color, Muslims, veterans, immigrants, the disabled, and the LGBT community.
Indeed, a vote for Trump was a vote for his hateful policies. Remaining in support of Trump represents implicit support for misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, bigotry, and mockery of vulnerable people, although many Trump supporters attempt to refute or dismiss this.
To me and millions of others, this outcome is personally threatening.
I am a gay woman with a Jewish surname, now questioning whether I will be prevented from marrying whom I love, be denied access to adequate women’s health care, or be victim of anti-Semitism.
Vice President–elect Mike Pence has supported the use of federal funding to “treat people seeking to change their sexual behavior.” I, and millions of others in the LGBT community, are effectively being told that our biological identity is immoral and that we can be “cured.”
If we take Trump and Pence at their word, a vote for Trump effectively gave this government a mandate to enact policies that could set human and civil rights back decades.
As reality set in on Wednesday morning, I cried not only for myself, but for the millions of people whose safety and constitutional rights are now at risk. As a privileged, economically-secure white woman, I am not as deeply affected by those in power. However, the impending calamity motivates my involvement in the social revolution spurred by Trump’s victory.
As a result of his pandering campaign, Trump has effectively normalized hate speech and given a voice to a dangerous and hateful fraction of our population.
Hate crimes and racist graffiti are on the rise, even in our local towns and schools. The KKK is ecstatic. Based on Trump’s recent appointments to his transition team and cabinet, there is strong reason to believe that this government will continue exploiting fear and inciting hate.
Before the consequences of the election became apparent, I was willing to look past the political and moral differences I had with some of my conservative friends.
However, after much thought, I came to the conclusion that continuing to do so would not only be contradictory to my own personal beliefs and self-respect; it would be a disservice to all the groups Trump and his inner circle attacked during his campaign.
To my friends, members of my community, and fellow Americans who voted for Trump or did not vote at all: please know that I do not hate you, despite the pain and betrayal I feel.
But I urge you to understand and accept, however difficult that may be, that you voted against me as a person. You voted against millions of individuals who deserve the same respect and fundamental human rights as you do.
There is no place or need for hate in America. I am fearful and angry and disappointed and confused, but I will not become hateful.