UPDATE: To my dismay, I discovered that because my post was public, a lot of strangers started commenting on it. I’ve since deleted it, but here are a selection of some of the comments. This is what’s happened. People feel entitled to say things like this. This is the culture of bullying that Trump has legitimized.
Guys, I’m a little shaken up right now. Earlier I posted a link to an article about how a woman went for a hike to try and deal with the grief she was feeling over Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election, and she actually ran into Hillary and Bill hiking there as well. I reposted the article and commented on how strong Hillary is. I said that when I got the news, I stayed in bed for three days, in mourning. When she found out she lost, three days later she’s hiking with her husband. I was so inspired by how strong she is.
My post was set to public, and something very unsettling happened. I got a message from a complete stranger who I guess has nothing better to do than to go through the list of people who have shared the article and make comments, because he sent me a message with a voice memo instead of actually typing. It sounded like he was driving. Which means that not only did he feel what you’re about to read was necessary, but he felt it so necessary that he had to dictate it by voice to a stranger while driving.
Here’s what he said.
“You stayed in your room for three days after the election? You are such a pussy. Get off your ass and fucking do something for the country, instead of staying in your bedroom and fucking pouting over Hillary not winning.”
I was so shocked that I wasn’t really sure what to do. But… his tone wasn’t angry. It seemed to be disappointed. Like a friend who was trying to motivate me. The things he said were cruel, but he did SEEM to have good intentions. So I responded.
My response. Note that I checked out his profile in the meantime and saw that he was a straight, married white man.
“I stayed in bed because I have debilitating anxiety, and I’m a gay non-Christian living in the south. Its not exactly easy to get out there and do something when you’re hated for who you are. As a straight, white man [I had checked out his profile at this point and saw that he was indeed a married, straight white guy], I get that you don’t understand what its like to be discriminated against. You feel so privileged that you thought it was appropriate to send a voice message to a stranger on Facebook putting them down for something you don’t understand. But I’m not going to let bullying, by you or by Trump, dictate how I should feel or act.”
He responded with another voice memo.
“Listen, gays are accepted everywhere, being homosexual is normal in this world. Bisexual is normal in this world. Whatever feels good is acceptable in this world. Don’t use you being gay and the world is against you to stop you from doing what you have to do in life. Look on TV, there’s gay people EVERYWHERE. Gay is accepted, I don’t know why you say that you’re having such a hard time being gay. That’s an excuse, get off your soap box. Trump’s the best thing that’s gonna happen to this country, trust me on that one.”
At this point I was kind of shaking, but I responded again.
“I know you THINK gay people are accepted everywhere, but you’re wrong. You live in CALIFORNIA. I live in South Carolina. You’re a straight white guy. Please don’t attempt to tell me that you know better than I do what it’s like to be a discriminated minority.”
His response was in a dismissive but not altogether angry tone.
“Well then move to California. As a matter of fact, move to San Francisco, PERFECT for ya.”
I have to stop here to comment on the privilege it must take to be driving in your car, and decide to harass a gay kid on the other side of the country via voice memos, and then have the audacity to tell him “Well just MOVE to California, then!” As though that’s something everyone can do. It would be wrong of me to assume he’s a rich suburbanite, but I can’t imagine who grew up as poor as I did has any idea how impossible moving, especially across the country, really is.
I sent him one final message.
“I don’t know what you think you’re accomplishing by this, but I just want you to take a look at yourself, and realize that you just sent a stranger on Facebook a barrage of voice messages chiding him for not handling being discriminated against in the way you would prefer. I get the weird feeling you’re trying to be helpful, but you aren’t. You are being condescending and refusing to see past your own privilege. You, a straight man in California, are lecturing me, a gay man in the south, on why it’s incorrect that I think I’m discriminated against.”
I didn’t wait for him to respond, I blocked him.
I guess… this is what it’s come to. Now that Donald Trump has won, people feel that they now just have the right to harass anyone they choose. What’s most puzzling to me is the tone of his voice in these messages. He wasn’t screaming, he didn’t even sound angry. He sounded annoyed. And when he started dictating what I should do, he had this tone of voice like “of COURSE this is what you should do, why didn’t you THINK of this?”. It was condescending, and it was scary. When I came to sit down and write this I realized I was shaking all over.
This is not an isolated incident. Far, far worse is happening all around the country, from graffiti threatening gay people, Muslims and black people, to the KKK displaying solidarity with Donald Trump, all around the country, the bigots think that now their candidate has won, they have the right to come out of the bigoted closet and speak their hatred and vitriol loudly and without consequence.
Part of me wants to raise my fist in the air and say we refuse to take it. Part of me wants to say that in achieving this victory, the bigots have identified themselves and can now be defeated. That they’ve become complacent now, that they think our struggle towards equality is over, clinched in their favor, and that their complacency is the opportunity we have to boot their hatred out of our society forever.
But another part of me just wants to curl up in the corner and fear for everyone. For myself. For Muslims. For women. For black people. For hispanic people. For transgender people. If this is what happened to me, what must be happening to other people around the country right now, trying to express themselves and have their voices heard?
I honestly don’t know what I think will happen. Part of me thinks this is well and truly the end of America, that this will be what causes a mass eruption of violence, protests, and bloody civil unrest to rival the likes of Egypt. Another part of me thinks that this is all bluster and showmanship, that bigots only think they’ve won and will soon discover they’ve gained much less ground than they thought, and by identifying themselves they make it easier to suss out the hate-mongers among us and put a stop to their campaigns of oppression.
But I don’t know.
I truly don’t know.