Dear Donald… It’s Okay, I Feel Scared Sometimes Too
“All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.” Harvey Milk.
Mr President, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate at the minute. I’ve never thought of the Presidency of the United States as being an easy job, but I’m sure the reality of what’s required must be fairly overwhelming.
I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but I just wanted to write to say thank you.
With the flurry of activity around the appointment of a special prosecutor, Senate committee investigations, calls for impeachment, and whatever other dramas have unfolded between the time of me putting pen to paper and you reading this – it must feel like the whole world is out to get you, that you no longer know who to trust, that you’re no longer sure who your friends are.
I imagine that there are plenty of people vying for your time, vying for your attention, vying for your leadership, but I just thought it might help you keep some perspective on things to know that you’re not alone, that there are people around the world who know how you feel, who may even empathise with you.
Like a lot of gay men, I grew up in a time and a place that feels a lot different from where we are today. I was bullied at school – somehow it was obvious to others that I was different to them and, with a Lord-of-the-Flies brutality, kids see differentness as a weakness. Have you read Lord of the Flies?
I’m not suggesting that you’re gay, but I’ve got a feeling that you know what it feels like to be different, to not really fit in, even when you really want to.
It took a long time for me to work out who I was, to understand what it means to be a gay man in today’s world, to embrace that. In some ways I feel I’ve had to reinvent myself – not as many times as Madonna, obviously, but I’ve had to keep evolving, learning, adapting. I guess you’ve had to do the same, we have to keep up with the world in which we live. Do you like Madonna?
Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror, surprised by the person looking back at you? I often catch the reflection of myself and can’t help but wonder: How on earth did I get here? How did I become this person? I expect the mirror to show me a young, idealistic kid in his mid-20s – it’s always a surprise when it doesn’t. Are there a lot of mirrors in the White House?
Campaigning for marriage equality has been a big focus for my community in recent years. Back in 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, and when then-President Obama made a speech in the White House Rose Garden declaring that “love is love” and that the decision in Obergefell v Hodges was a step towards making “our union a little more perfect,” it felt like we’d really turned a corner. But just a few years down the line and our safe spaces no longer feel so safe, the Trans members of our community are more vulnerable than ever, and we feel powerless to help gay men in places such as Chechnya who are being persecuted for being gay, for being different, for being a minority.
That’s why I’m writing to thank you. Well, I guess I’m thanking you in advance.
You haven’t had a chance yet to do anything to help the men in Chechnya being persecuted for being gay. You haven’t had a chance yet to explain how you’re going to protect trans kids from bullying and harassment now that you’ve repealed the guidance on gender-identity bathroom access. You haven’t had the chance to show gay men like me that you understand that being part of a minority brings with it a unique set of challenges and uncertainty.
It’s only been a little over 100 days. You haven’t had the chance to do a lot of things. Please show me that looking out for the LGBT community figures somewhere on your list-of-things-to-do in your mission to Make America Great Again.
We used to try and tackle the self-harm and self-doubt that a lot of young LGBT people experience by telling them that It Gets Better. I’m scared that they’re going to stop believing us. Does that scare you?