There are a lot of words I could use to describe last week’s election results—heartbreaking, shocking, terrifying, devastating—but none of them could adequately describe how it felt to learn that the next President and Vice President are two men who actively desire to harm me and millions of other Americans.
As a queer white woman I understand that I hold an incredible amount of privilege simply because I was born with light skin. But I also know that other rights will likely be taken from me: my right to marry the love of my life (and the legal benefits and protections that accompany marriage), the right to monitor my reproductive health and my ability to feel and actually be safe in a country in which sexual abuse is normalized. (Unfortunately, the human rights issues merely scratch the surface of concerns about the election. You can read a more comprehensive list here.)
Throughout the past week, I’ve been grappling with the results and trying my best to make sense of what it all means. More specifically, I’ve been grappling with what on earth I can do to help. As I consumed article after article and tweet after tweet, it quickly became clear to me that I could drown in despair. If I kept consuming news at my former pace, I realized I would never be able to leave my couch, let alone make any sort of positive difference.
I’m not going to lie to you, the future seems dark. But despite the darkness, I still have hope.
I have hope that hate will not prevail and that humans are decent and kind. I have hope that love really does win and that all humans are created equal, regardless of skin color. I have hope that women will come together and show the world just strong and resilient we really are. I have hope that the MAJORITY (Hillary won the popular vote!) will rise up and fight for what is good and fair. I have hope that love is greater than evil.
In dark times, we must come together. We, the progressives, must continue to fight.
And as Dan Savage so beautifully explained in his latest Savage Love letter, we do not need to banish joy or pleasure in order to do so:
“Yes, we must donate and volunteer and protest and vote, all while reminding ourselves daily that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. And we must commit to defending our friends, neighbors, and coworkers who are immigrants (documented or not), Muslims (American born, immigrants, or refugees), people of color, women seeking reproductive health care, trans men and women seeking safety, lesbian and gay men seeking to protect their families, and everyone and everything else Trump has threatened to harm, up to and including the planet we all live on.
But we must make time for joy and pleasure and laughter and friends and food and art and music and sex. During the darkest days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when Republicans and religious conservatives controlled the federal government and were doing everything in their power to harm the sick and dying, queers organized and protested and volunteered and mourned. We also made music and theater and art. We took care of each other, and we danced and loved. Embracing joy and art and sex in the face of fear and uncertainty made us feel better—it kept us sane—and it had the added benefit of driving our enemies crazy. They couldn’t understand how we could be anything but miserable, given the challenges we faced—their greed, their indifference, their bigotry—but we created and experienced joy despite their hatred and despite this awful disease…
…We didn’t eradicate HIV/AIDS, the disease that was sickening us then, but we fought it to a standstill and we may defeat it yet. The disease that now sickens our nation is different. We may never eradicate racism and sexism and hatred. But fight it we will. And don’t listen to anyone who tells you that music and dance and art and sex and joy are a distraction from the fight. They are a part of the fight.”
As we go forward and prepare to fight, protest, volunteer and do good, we cannot forget to take care of ourselves as well. We cannot forget that joy, love and pleasure go hand in hand with fighting the hatred that is around us. We cannot lose hope, but even beyond that, we cannot lose joy.
Mourn for this election. Mourn for the future that we lost. Mourn for the hatred and violence that is sure to come. But also love. And laugh.
Tell stupid jokes with your friends. Go on adventures with the people you love. Spoil your other half with treats and kisses. Dance the night away in a crowded bar. Hug the people you love and buy treats for your pets who make life better. Be kind to strangers and offer a smile as a token of good will.
The future feels more precarious than it ever has, but honestly, it has never been guaranteed.
So what am actually DOING about the election results?
- I’m setting up a recurring monthly donation to the ACLU
- I’m marching in the Los Angeles Women’s March Against Washington (and you can join the march in your city!)
- I’m continuing to volunteer as a sexual assault advocate for survivors where I work and as a mentor for LGBT students.
- And last but certainly not least, this blog is becoming a ~website~ that is dedicated to telling REAL money stories while increasing financial education for women
If there is one thing that has stood out to me again and again in the past week it is the power of community— the power of like-minded individuals who come together for a common cause. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I wanted this blog to be a place that is about REAL life. But at the time, I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve slowly come to realize that there is a certain type of money story I enjoy. I like reading about “everyday people” (aka people like me!) and how they are living their lives, spending their money and attempting to do good. I love the Cash Confessionals on the Charlotte Agenda. I love podcasts that feature real interviews with real listeners. I love Doing Money on The Billfold. As I’ve thought about the direction that I want to take my blog, I realized that there is definitely a pattern in the money discussions that I find valuable. They are honest, real and raw. There is no crafted narrative or polished ending. Instead, they are accounts of real life.
So as of today, TFFM is open for submissions. Whether you’re a fellow blogger, a reader, a family member or a friend, I would love to hear from you and how you deal with money. If you want to submit an article about money, that’s awesome! I can’t wait to read it and publish it. If you want to be interviewed for the new Money Stories sections, I would love to connect. If you want to track your spending for a week and chronicle the adventure on TFFM, even better. There will be a lot of changes coming to this site in the following weeks. I’m thrilled to be able to share a diverse selection of experiences with you—from LGBT people, people of color, fellow women and everyone in between.
In the meantime, do you have any suggestions? I’d love to hear your ideas!