If you believe post-election social media, the world is going to hell in a deplorable hand basket. Our LGBT brothers and sisters are frightened for the rights they’ve fought for over the past several decades, which is only exacerbated by a now Republican majority within the United States government led by a “conservative” president and a far alt-right vice president.
The fear is palpable.
Yet the reality of this situation is that nothing has happened yet. While our hard-won freedoms may be jeopardized in the near future (and that’s a BIG maybe), they’re not currently in the line of fire – but if and when we’re called to battle in the name of equality, we will fight like we always have. Until then, however, let’s give thanks during this time of year when thankfulness is especially important for that which we can count our blessings.
Because breathe, gurl – everything will be OK.
1. Your right to marry
There’s a lot of talk about rolling back the marriage-equality ruling now that Trump is president-elect, and if the National Organization for Marriage has its way (its dastardly plan is already drawn up), that conjecture could become Constitutional. But when asked what gratitude he has as a modern LGBT person, a friend of mine helped put this long-shot prospect into perspective: “[I’m] thankful that a conservative Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage rather than Congress, which means it’s just as safe as Roe v. Wade has been since 1973,” he said. Let’s hope so.
2. The majority of American citizens are still on our side
Based on Electoral College votes, Donald Trump will be our next president, but the popular vote chose Hillary. It stands to reason, then, that most Americans – the voting public, at least – sides with us on issues of equality. A Pew Research Center poll in 2016 found that 55 percent of Americans favored same-sex marriage – and that figure is not likely to dip into the minority now that marriage rights are firmly in place. Sure, a red Congress may delay social progress (like transgender-rights bills and anti-discrimination laws), but it will never fully quell it – because the majority of American people have never and will never allow it.
3. Donald Trump isn’t as anti-LGBT equality as you may think
There’s plenty of volley on whether or not Trump is LGBT-friendly – and we can argue for days about the myriad other verbal atrocities he’s committed – but back in April he expressed support for one of the most contentious talking points of 2016: the genderless bathroom. On NBC’s “Today” show, Trump went against the general consensus of his party when asked how transgendered people should use restrooms in public. They should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” he said, according to the New York Times. Staunch conservative advocates of acts like North Carolina’s economically devastating law that prohibits individuals in the state from using a restroom that does not correspond to their biological sex railed Trump for the position, but he never rescinded his statements – and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that he never does.
4. Children born this year will never known a time without LGBT equality
Do we still have trails to blaze in the name of equality? Absolutely. But in the past five years alone we’ve made more progress toward that goal than in all of modern history. ALL of it. Children born today and every day afterward will never know a United States where LGBTs can’t serve openly in the military or legally marry one another – and that’s something of which to be proud. While naysayers are cautious that everything will remain as is given the pending administration transition, it’s prudent to stay optimistic that we are and will remain on the right side of history.
5. We can express ourselves in public (without much) persecution
I know what you’re going to say – it’s _still_ not safe out there for LGBT people. Notwithstanding the fearmongering – which, I will contend, the basis for which isn’t entirely irrelevant – I would argue that we’ve never been so protected. Yeah, some backwoods hick might fling a derogatory term your way now and then, and violence has been levied (though these instances aren’t regular occurrences), but it’s important to remember that we’re not alone in the fight for equality. There’s still a mountain of injustice in this country and around the world – just ask people of color – but those tides are turning, whether or not you can see that yet. Our friends and family are standing up to those who attempt to denigrate us, consumers are fighting homophobia with their wallets, and more and more young LGBT people are coming out at an earlier age because they feel safe enough to do so. In other words, our reality is not always how the media portrays it – a lesson we all learned on Nov. 8, and will be wise to remember moving forward.