Trigger warning: This isn’t about books. It’s about the knots jacking my gut, my shoulders, my psyche, my heart, and my mind, and my efforts to untie them, or, understand them, or, ffs, find a way to live with them.
If this is to you, you know who you are. Or, maybe you don’t. If you’re wondering, then chances are, it’s for you.
“The personal is political” ideology was birthed by second wave feminist heroes, giving voice to a truth lived on a cellular level by anyone in this country who is not a *white-hetero-cis-male, which group invests much energy and wields much power (economic, legal, political, weapons and arms based) to insist that this country is a meritocracy where anyone and everyone has an equal chance to succeed if only they work hard and follow the rules. We others know this to be bullshit.
I leave to sociologists and historians the analysis of why the inequities of such privilege have wreaked levels of havoc and despair upon the country that make collapse and/or civil war seem every day more likely. I can only explain where I am, and why my knots are personal.
My experience as LGBTQ since childhood has been one of affronts to my selfhood, dignity, and freedom, about all of which I have long been ranting, which rants have often been dismissed by people who knew me, even loved me, as overreaction. When pointing out inequalities and slights and micro-aggressions resulting from culturally-embedded assumed-white-hetero-cis-male-superiority, not infrequently I was scolded with some version of, “Oh Charlie, you see homophobia/racism/sexism/religious bigotry EVERYWHERE.” And there was its accompanying admonishment and dismissal, “It’s not personal/about you.”
Again, I say, we others know this to be bullshit.
It certainly was about me when one of my sisters voted for Romney whose platform expressly denounced marriage equality and LGBTQ rights. That’s personal. Affirming a party wishing to encode into law my second-class citizenship is PERSONAL, no matter how you insist it’s not about that, but rather about the economy and taxes, and no matter how vociferously you smirkingly and dismissively snark at me that they don’t really mean those homophobic, misogynist, racist, xenophobic things they propose.
Uhm, have you noticed that same party you defended for those economic policies has repeatedly decimated your financial well-being and continues to do so, and while they consistently lie and gaslight about many things including their criminal complicitness in throwing the 2016 election, it turns out they’re honest about one thing; their bigotry. You see they DO really mean those homophobic, misogynist, racist, xenophobic things they sent out in campaign flyers and spoke from podiums, as you can see by their continued inching toward destruction of health care, repeal of reproductive rights and affirmative action, kidnapping and caging of children, slander and demonization of Muslims, and their promise to overturn marriage equality, all of which goals they are stacking the supreme court to achieve.
That’s personal. And you enabled it.
And I recently heard this from one of those people who regularly pooh-poohed and scolded me because I kept trying to explain how it was all, every day, personal;
I used to think you were crazy and hysterical-conspiracy-theory paranoid when you refused to eat at Chick-fil-A, or consider voting for any republican, or ranting about the roman catholic church or salvation army stuff — but it looks like you were right. I get it now. All those little daily things that seemed to me like they didn’t matter, mattered and now here we are. I’m sorry. You were right.
I wish that made me feel better. But it doesn’t. Being right is far less rewarding than one imagined when what one is correct about is the widespread soul-rot, hypocrisy, and venality of much of the human race. I wish I was surprised, but, when you’ve lived as LGBTQ in redneck/white boy land (i.e. most of america), the horror of the tide of hate and bigotry and white-hetero-cis-male atrocities which are the content of current events are nothing new.
And, too, this apology comes only when that person’s privilege is being threatened. Too little. Too late. Your “you were right, Charlie, and I’m sorry” spoken only after your personal piece of the privilege pie is being threatened doesn’t absolve you of having enabled all the awful leading up to it; awful you were perfectly happy to deny was happening as long as it was happening to someone else. Like your brother.
Apologies brought on by late-blooming, self-serving awareness of the fact you’ve long been duped by the gop into working against your own interests, does absolutely NOTHING to undo the damage you’ve done.
Or, undo my knots.
So, where do we go from here?
Well, first of all, it’s not that I don’t accept your apology, it’s that it’s not my place to accept it. It should go to all those who marched and fought and contributed and worked to achieve the smidgen of equality won for all we others, crumbs now threatened because of you. It should go to all those children, those children who fall into “others” categories, who we thought would have an easier time, a smoother transition to adulthood than we did — we others who did the fighting, and were — at least in the case of my other-ness, called f*gg*t and all the ugly terms meant to inflict pain and shame (it worked, I still struggle every day with the years I hid, the fear with which I lived, the jobs I lost, the beatings I took, the rape I suffered) — you need to apologize to them.
Apologize? No. You need to actively work to UNDO what you have done. Because understand this; Allowing it to happen, sitting by and watching while it happened, it’s the same as having done it yourself.
Every kidnapped/cage child is there by your hand. Every bashed LGBTQ youth is bleeding from wounds you inflicted. Every wrong perpetrated by these demons, and because of the tenor or their propaganda and hate speech belongs to YOU.
You need to work to undo the 2016 election: it was illegitimate and stolen by a foreign power with the complicity of the gop, and all those involved should go to prison. 45 is NOT the president, so impeachment is not the answer or option, since he didn’t legitimately win the election, his title is irrelevant, and for his collusion with russia he is guilty of treason as are mcconnell and ryan and all the others who were in on it.
Once he and his bigoted illegitimate vp are jailed, then Hillary Rodham Clinton must be seated, and all of his appointments — including scotus seats, are null and voided as he was never legitimately entitled to make those appointments in the first place.
At that point, President Clinton can undo all the undo-ing and do-ing the asshole 45-pretender has done, begin to repair our international reputation, and continue to move the country in a forward direction as did President Obama before her.
And first and foremost while this is going on, you can save your apology until all the kidnapped and caged children and decimated families are reunited and compensated for their loss, treated for the psychological and emotional damage done to them, and the country again becomes a welcoming, embracing, loving nation — in fact, becoming better than we were before. Because we have been shit to immigrants for years under both Democrats and republicans.
AND, you can dismantle the gop. It’s criminal collusion and treason at the highest levels disqualify it for continued participation in a democratic society.
Too, you can reach out to the families and loved ones and communities of those who have been killed, deported, bashed, and otherwise abused and terrorized since the brand of bigotry 45 espoused gave permission to ignorance and hatred to not only come out of its dark cave, but celebrate in the streets and pillage, beat, and murder freely we others. The increase in hate crimes since he and russia and gop committed their treasonous stealing of the election speaks for itself.
And this is especially important; You can listen instead of talk.
Except, you must talk every time you hear someone defend ignorance and bigotry — even in its shadow forms — and explain to them how wrong they are because you know how wrong you’ve been and the damage you’ve done.
That’s a small start at a list of what you can do.
Here’s what you can’t do: undo the part of my heart you broke. Undo the damage your complacency about these issues — despite my pleas to you — has done to my life. You can’t undo how that has made me feel about you, how that has made me see you, how your actions and inaction have kept me considered a second (or third) class citizen, unworthy of equality and decency.
I have to live with that. Always have had to. And, so, too, now that you finally see and believe, you’ll have to live with what you’ve done, too.
And believe me, this is personal. Knot-personal.
*I hereby stipulate and concede that economic inequality resulting in de facto class-divisions unseen since leaving the British Isles have affected some lower-economic-echelon white-hetero-cis-males, however, they are STILL born with and wear throughout their lives a mantle of assumed privilege, armed with which they batter and battle all “others” as less than. Even the poorest, least-educated, least privileged among them (in fact, often, especially those who are have-less-es) use what they (and the culture and political/economic/power structure) assume to be their birthright of entitlement to oppress, derogate, abuse, and, increasingly, imprison — both metaphorically and literally — those of us who are not white-hetero-cis-males.