try not to think about Trump. He’s there in the White House, of course, but he’s like the golden retriever with its head stuck out the car window grinning and drooling while the humanoids in charge careen down the highway scattering ink-stained bills from their latest heist.
I’ve seen the movie, and it’s never ends well for anybody. Not for the insatiable thieves who are not only indifferent to their immediate victims, but leave a vast swath of collateral damage, this time the US economy, our justice system, democracy, even our literal environment where each Republican gesture opens the floodgates to poisons, pollution, exploitation.
In this flick, I imagine queer activists as that cop who imagined he was on the verge of retirement, and is bound either to get tragically shot before the final scene and be buried in a shallow grave or to be drawn back into the fight to prevent the impending apocalypse bearing down yet again. The usual victims: the poor, people of color, immigrants, women. And of course LGBTQ people, queers that this Republican administration (and plenty of Democrats) would like to see disappear altogether.
It is tempting to give up, replace the rainbow flags with the white ones of defeat. But there are things I aspire to do, even if I’m not quite ready to build the barricades. Some are self-evident. Some not. At any rate, I...
1. Take to the streets: Demos are not only an expression of our collective anger (or joy), they help me remember that I’m not alone. They’re also an important aerobic exercise for our rapidly eroding democracy. Whose streets? Our streets!
2. Take to the couch: On the days when it’s a victory just to get out of bed, I celebrate the moment I venture past the bathroom and actually get to the couch! Depression is real. Especially if you follow the news.
3. Reject Hate: Hate is easy. And I know from long experience that its cousin outrage is an effective tool to mobilize people. But when I indulge in those self-righteous rants a little too often, I find myself becoming the thing I hate. Which is not a good look. But it also means I miss the chances that present themselves on a regular basis. Even the most monstrous bigot can be flipped.
4. Say thank you: To my friends, and enemies. To that very out queer. To the dyke organizing the resistance who could probably also use a beer or slice. Or a really loud whistle to get the attention of her troops.
5. Fly my freak flag high: Mike Pence and the rest of the degenerate Republicans (and Democrats) wish we’d just go away. It is our job to go out in the world more dykily, faggily, trannily than ever before. My hair is shorter than it’s been in 20 years. My Docs are back on my old-school feet. I’m also game for the occasional unexpected sequins, a giant new wig.
6. Support community businesses: It’s better to give your dollars to embattled neighborhood queers, people of color, or immigrant businesses instead of giant conglomerates that are already making money hand over fist from the Trumpian kleptocracy. Though there’s no way I’m walking to 14th Street just to buy a farm stand apple. Seriously.
7. Lend a hand to community and alternative media: Placing an article with us isn’t as sexy — or profitable — as the New York Times, but the truth is we cover stories others don’t. For the last several weeks, it is queer sites that have been keeping murdered dykes in the headlines, that cover the deaths of trans women. While between 1.6 and 2.5 million people participated in women’s marches around the world a couple weeks ago, Sunday’s top five political talk shows gave them only seven seconds of coverage. Mainstream print media sucked, too.
8. Resist censorship from anybody: It’s an addictive habit and double-edged sword. Language changes so rapidly even our allies are bound to screw up. So chill out, and pay more attention to what people do than what they say. Allow artists to take you to dark places. David Wojnarowicz transformed his rage by exploring it, knocked a hole in an airless room where we were suffocating.
9. Laugh: With my friends and lover. At my enemies, who sometimes shrink to a manageable size when we brandish a very small unthreatening object like a finger and shout “Riddikulus,” in our best British accents.
10. Embrace Love. As friendship and sex. Kindness. Activism on my own behalf, and for us all.
What do you do?
Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
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