I am trying very hard to not make this a political statement, because I do firmly believe in the peaceful transition of power and I do firmly believe that we have to live with the election results, no matter the results. And while for me personally, 11/9/16 was a tough day, I did find myself starting to feel some optimistic thoughts even though I didn’t agree with the results. Maybe, just maybe, the anti-establishment positioning could work. Maybe, just maybe, we could see the kind of change that would propel us forward. Maybe, just maybe.
And then at the end of the day, I walked out of my office building and it hit me.
“What’s all that noise?”
That’s when it hit me, at the end of the day. I began to process the sounds I was hearing, as they got clearer and clearer in my ears and in my head and in my heart.
“Love Trumps Hate.”
My eyes welled up, just like they are now as I’m writing about it.
People were marching in protest up Fifth Avenue towards Trump Tower. It was peaceful and calm, but it was loud and dominating. They weren’t protesting the fact that “their” candidate lost, they were protesting hate.
For the first time in my life, at age 53, I stepped into the march, and walked about 5 blocks with these protesters. I would have walked longer but I had colleagues waiting for me uptown. I was walking with folks of all ages and all flavors. And I heard them loud and clear.
“Love Trumps Hate.”
They weren’t screaming that Hillary lost, they were screaming because they don’t want hate to win.
I found myself a few hours later, after a business dinner, sharing a cab with a colleague who is in the U.S. for a few months to work on some projects and get to know American business. She’s been planning her time in America for quite some time now, looking forward to living like an American, as she says. But what she said to me in that cab will stick with me for the rest of my life.
“This is not America.”
I had to let that sink in. “This is not the America I wanted to come to. I’m used to this kind of bigotry and sexism and racism in other parts of the world, but I thought that America would be different.”
Wow. Here’s someone who has dreamed of spending time here in the States to experience our way of life because she views it as much more open and accepting…only to have that dream crushed in reality.
The reality that we are fighting hate. Again.
And you know what…she’s right. It’s not about Trump winning the election; it’s about giving hatred a safe harbor. It’s about letting people get away with breaking down others who aren’t exactly like them. It’s about safeguarding an ancient way of life that’s no longer relevant in our culture.
I don’t want to go backwards. I want to live in America.
I am a gay father who raised my now adult children back in those times of bigotry. At the time, I feared that they’d be bullied, I feared that I would lose my job and not be able to support them, and I feared that they could be taken away from me because of who I am.
As a gay father, I lived in fear a lot of the time.
Yes, I feared a lot those days, and I had no choice but to accept that fear and live within it. I learned to thrive despite of it. I had thought we’d come so far since then. But now I fear we may be going backwards. Not because my candidate didn’t win the election and I’m a sore loser. But because I fear we are letting hatred take over.
I don’t want to go backwards. I want to live in America. I want to live in the America that my colleague said she aspired to be a part of. I want that and I want her to have that. I want us all to have that.
I want to be an American in the America that accepts people for who they are and gives them an equal chance at happiness and success. That does not make me a sore loser or a cry baby.
As a father, gay or straight or anything in between, even more importantly, I want my children to have that.