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The Desire to Self-Segregate After the Election

The Desire to Self-Segregate After the Election


"Safe space" is a funny term to many Trump supporters, but they don't realize it's necessary when your country turns its back on you.

The Friday after Donald Trump won the Electoral College (will not say election, sorry), my boyfriend and I had a date night planned.

"Can we go to West Hollywood?" I asked, surprised for a moment by my own words.

We don't often go to the gay hub of Southern California; it's crowded and expensive and difficult to get to. But I had a desire, or rather a requirement, to be around people who didn't vote for Trump.

Chugging margaritas and pounding tortilla chips, we could faintly hear the sounds of disbelief and exasperation from the other tables. I empathized with their terror and anguish, but was grateful for their response; it was preferable to the gloating of the selfish and ignorant.

In the month that's followed, I've grown deeply appreciative that I get to work at The Advocate, with people who understand the gravity of our current situation. At the office, I commiserate with brilliant women, people of color, and LGBTs; we gnash our teeth and make jokes at the absurdity of it all. The injustice and stupidity running rampant in our country is not always on our tongues, but it rarely leaves our heads. We get up every day and face the ugliness and uncertainty, even though many of us would rather bury our heads in the sand (me included).

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I invited a small group of friends to our new apartment (we thought moving on November 15 would be a nonevent since the election would be over and everything would be back to normal; a higher power laughed at us). I kept it queer. I wanted us to talk, but not of inane subjects. I wanted us all to laugh, but not too loud.

We had Trivial Pursuit set up and a friend brought the AbFab boxed set. But we just wailed and screamed until 2 in the morning. Since our favorite gay bar recently closed -- the dearly departed Roosterfish in Venice -- this was as close as we could get to that experience. As our queer spaces disappear, we have to maintain our own, I guess. That night was cathartic. I loved it; I needed it.

When I take the train every day to work, I feel far away from New York and Washington, two cities I grew up with that now feel tainted with Trump's evil, orange smear. I often dream of going to Hawaii; putting as much distance between myself and that man and his horrifying cabinet.

On the commute, I see the brown faces that Trump vilified, the Muslims he targeted, the trans women he discounted, the black people he condescended to. We glide over lovely neighborhoods that our future president would call hellholes. On the ride, I don't see #MAGA hats, I don't hear anyone saying "libtard" or "snowflake." I thank the higher power for that sweet reprieve; it's more than most queer Americans can say.

Some foolish people say we lost the election over "identity politics." My life is identity politics -- not out of choice, but reality. I imagine I'll grow more comfortable spending time around those who don't have to be bothered with identity politics, but I'm not there yet. I know we need allies, but right now I want my people.

NEAL BROVERMAN is the executive editor of The Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @nbroverman.

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