Written by Rich Juzwiak
I started getting mocked for being gay in the second grade, before I even knew what “gay” was. To cope, I learned the power in selective listening. We need to rely upon the world to tell us about ourselves, and yet as early as 8 or 9, I knew I had to temper my credulity. And no matter how much hurt I might have felt when I was derided, I knew they were wrong. The wrongness of hating (or whatever sentiment you want to attach to routine mocking) someone for something innate was made clear to me at a young age, and it became a fundamental belief as true as gravity or the only certainties being death and taxes. I grew up in a place and time when Whitney Houston singing, “No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity!” was inescapable. Even if I didn’t know exactly what she was talking about, I knew what she meant.
Though my education came in the form of a rude imposition (really, a decade’s worth of them), in retrospect the bigotry directed at me was a gift that shaped my worldview. As a white person today, I just can’t say that I’d feel the empathy that I do for marginalized people without having been marginalized myself. At the same time, as a white person I was able to hold onto the notion that words will never hurt me with more conviction than other groups who shed blood and lost lives and leave in fear and poverty over the caustic ideology of idiots.
Little did I know how one presidential election would expose the extent of my naïveté. It’s time to grow up.
Last night, decades of idealism evaporated, as it became clear that the mean things that people say do matter, and in fact could help secure the presidency of the United States of America. The lack of reasoning behind bigotry, the capacity that people have for hatred, the gleeful embrace of ignorance as ideology is never not stunning, and yet it’s never been more stunning when its blatancy was juxtaposed with the hard proof, item after item after item, that Donald J. Trump was not fit for a job that he has been handed by the people of America. Gestures at social justice, like Melania Trump’s anti-bullying rhetoric, no matter how half-hearted and hypocritical seem to appease these followers. Love wins? Yeah right. Hate unites. READ MORE
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