The morning after the 2016 presidential election I told my husband, “Well, it’s been nice being married to you these past three years.” He kissed me sweetly, deeply, and didn’t respond.
Aside from this offhand remark — which was one part jest, one part reflection of my complete and utter shock, and two parts pure unfiltered fear — few words were said between us. The fear we both felt was new, unsettling, and profound.
It was first time in my life that I’ve felt truly frightened as a gay man in American. I can only imagine how people of color, immigrants, those of the Muslim faith, women, anyone outside the new political normal were — but judging by recent protests, I’m confident it’s something similar.
The uncertainty of what this new administration means for the disenfranchised has shaken us all. Based on the vile and dehumanizing campaign the incoming president ran (I can barely say his name much less type it), his choices thus far to fill his cabinet, the rumors about his choice for a Supreme Court justice, the past actions of our vice president-elect, we in the LGBT community clearly have reason to be on edge.
Despite what the president-elect has casually said recently about same-sex marriage — that it is a settled matter and a done deal — his history on the campaign trail of constantly flip-flopping reveals a person not to be trusted.
His logic about same-sex marriage already betrays his perspective on the matter. If marriage equality is “irrelevant” and “settled” because the Supreme Court ruled on it then how is a woman’s abortion rights not settled and done? Roe v. Wade has been law much longer than marriage equality via a ruling made by the Supreme Court and yet the president-elect plans on it being overturned. How can one ruling be “settled” and the other not be?
The president-elect’s contradiction here reveals a deep and deeply concerning disconnect within the mind of our future leader. This is very, very troubling.
As a man married to another man with a 3-year-old daughter, I’m scared for my equality, I’m nervous about the future of my family, and I feel unsafe in the current political climate. Over last few weeks I’ve felt scared, sad, numb, angry, hurt, and fearful. And I know I’m not alone — a quick scroll through my social media reveals similar thoughts and feeling among my friends.
The worldview exposed by the president-elect — a punishing view meant to reject anyone “other than” what is deemed acceptable — is absolutely not the world I know and have lived in all my life. It is also certainly not the world I want my child to inherit.
Over the past few days, as I have ridden the roller coaster of my feelings, I turned to my child to clear my mind and center my thoughts. When we sat for tea time and I soaked in her sweet, exuberant face, I felt joy again. As we ran and jumped and hopped through our neighborhood on the way to dinner and I heard her heart-tickling giggle, my soul was warmed.
Through her I am reminded how much light and goodness we all possess. She brought me back from tears, terror, and doubt. My little girl reminded me that despite all the ugliness and horror in the world, there is even more positivity and beauty to counter and conquer it.
Thankfully, the deep despair and fear I felt November 9 has slowly morphed into determination and strength.
While I am still wary of the new administration and what it means specifically for my queer family, I realized that no government ruling or court-ordered mandate can take away my family unity and love. While I treasure my marriage equality, nothing can take away the fact that we are and will forever be a family.
But make no mistake, this does not mean that I’m ready to just lie down and let my rights be stripped from me. This is the time for me to fight for what I hold dear. I cannot be complacent. We cannot be complacent.
We disenfranchised, we put-upon, we cast out, we whose very freedoms are in question, cannot and must not be powerless. We must not be silent and shoved back into the closet.
I implore all queer people everywhere to do the exact opposite of living in fear. We need to be queerer! We need to live our lives as openly and honestly as possible.
If you have a freak flag, let it fly. We need to be more colorful, more left of center, we need to stand out, speak out, and if we are called weird, let us embrace our weirdness. Let’s dare to be different, and embrace those things that set us apart from the new status quo.
We need to demand our rightful place in this great nation. Let us love openly! Let us be who we are unapologetically.
Let us create more; let us tell our stories and write our truth. Let’s paint and craft and make art that speaks of our reality. Let us record and film our worlds, give life to our experiences through TV and in the theater.
Let us march our queerness into society; let us push our uniqueness throughout the culture and to all parts of our nation now more than ever.
Be brave, my fellow queers! We as a community are never more powerful, more together, and more united than we are fighting as one against a common foe. We have four years to prepare, mobilize, and deliver a message that we matter and will fight for our rightful place in the world.
I remain hopeful that goodness will win out. No one can take away our hope. Our nation, our children, the world need us now more than ever. Let us show them how we can, we will, and we shall overcome.
BRIAN ANDERSEN is a writer and indie comic book creator who lives in San Francisco with his husband and gorgeous baby daughter.