The After

This is taken from a Facebook post I posted on my page earlier today. I’m happy to say that the response so far has been supportive and heartening. I hope you enjoy.

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Hey guys. Kind of a long post coming here so, yeah, sorry ahead of time.

Those of you on here that are close to me know that I’m fairly passionate when it comes to politics. I follow quite a few political bloggers pretty closely, even during non-election years, and have myself written a handful of one-off articles for a few political-minded blogs in the past. That being said, I generally try to avoid posting anything on my Facebook page relating to government, with last night being a recent exception. More so than any other year that I can recall, 2016 has been the year of divided homes and Facebook blocking, of misogynistic dismissals and attacks on perceived intelligence, all in the name of the partisan divide. And, to put it bluntly, I just didn’t feel like throwing one more trash bag onto the raging dumpster fire that is American politics. So I kept quiet about my own politics and let people duke it out on whatever they felt like. But there comes a time when, eventually, an event or experience becomes the catalyst of an irresistible force that requires, demands, that you raise your voice, and for me, that time is now.

Now, before you back away from what looks like just another post-election frothing-mouthed rant about the death of our country, that’s not what this is going to be (although knowing my friends, a fair number of you would probably be just fine with that). Rather, this is going to be more of a personal story, of something that happened to me today as a direct result of last night that I feel needs to be shared. Before I get into that, however, I should probably give a brief statement for clarification:

I am bisexual, and have been for about as long as I can remember. A decent amount of my friends from college and elsewhere are already aware of this, but for those of you that this statement comes as a shock, consider this me coming out to you: hi, I’m Alex, and I enjoy both the Ding Dongs and the Ho Hos. In addition to my unhealthy obsession with Hostess-brand deserts, I also have a proclivity towards both sets of human genitalia on a pretty equal level. I don’t view this as something to be embarrassed or ashamed of, and until fairly recently, I didn’t really view it as something to necessarily be proud of either. It was just a part of me, a quality intrinsic to my being and personal identity that I never really thought about too much.

Maybe it’s because of that, that “neither here nor there” mentality, that I never really came out to my parents. I was never afraid of any sort of backlash, of being disowned or rejected by them. It was just a constant state of apathy, of asking myself why they needed to know that about me. So I let it be, and never really once thought about bringing it up with them.

Until last night.

Something changed last night. A force, one that I don’t think I can ever completely explain, took hold of me after last night, and I knew waking up this morning that today would be the day that I told them. Now, as I said, I was never really worried about the reaction I would get after coming out, and they both responded in basically the ways I assumed they would. My wonderful mother, who is always and will forever be my greatest role model on how to be a better person, hugged me and said that she will always love and support me no matter what. My father, although he was closer to “accepting” to “supportive” in this regard, still talked to me openly and without candor about my identity and accepted me. My parents, Trump supporters both, for the first time saw who I really was–little, gay-old me–and they did not turn away. And I was happy.

And yet…

There was still a nagging thought in the back of my mind, like an itch in the back of your throat, that I just couldn’t answer: why today? Why, out of all days, did I feel the compelling need to come out? I’ve thought about it for a while now, and I think I’ve come to the best answer I can think of. It’s pretty simple, really, and I think it’s something that a lot of people I know have been mulling over today:

for the first time in my adult life, there is a person seated in the highest office of our nation that believes that other people should have more of a say about who I marry than I do. There is a man, a “heartbeat away from the presidency,” as they like to say, that believes that I am mentally ill, and should be put into conversion therapy in order to change who I am. There is a party currently in control of both houses of congress that have made it clear time and time again that they have no inclination towards protecting the rights of people who less than 15 years ago could have been charged with a crime simply for physically expressing their love with their partner. And I’ll be honest, those thoughts scared me. In the case of Mike Pence, they rocked me to my core, knowing that there are people in this country who so thoroughly believe that my desire for the freedom and self-confidence to be who I am is a disease that needs to be cured. So yes, I’m scared.

But I also have hope.

I’ve seen so many of my LGBTQ+ friends posting statuses on Facebook talking about the election, with some people I know, calm, rational people, genuinely terrified that this election will embolden those who find us “unacceptable,” who would verbally and physically attack us for being who we are. Please know that I understand where that fear comes from, and how much those thoughts can make you want to run and hide and never come out again. But there’s one important fact, one simple statement that I’m pleading with you all to remember when those thoughts overtake you.

We are never alone.

Part of what makes us special as both a country and a species is our diversity, who each of us are as a person. We are a beautiful microcosm of beliefs, of beings, of thoughts and ideas and dreams, stark and vast in both our differences and similarities. We are at times demeaning and condescending, at others understanding and supportive. We are the culmination of everything that is right and wrong and in-between in this world, and we have the power to make it what we choose. And we accomplish it all by coming together. You are NEVER alone.

If you are like me, and are scared or apprehensive or just apathetic about coming out, then I hope you’ll reconsider. I understand that some people are in situations where telling their parents or s/o is just not possible or safe, and to those people, I encourage you to come out to a friend, a relative, anyone who you trust and admire enough to share a part of yourself with. If you still can’t think of anyone you can tell, then tell me. I promise that I will accept and love and support you for who you are, because that’s what we do. We stand together, and you are NEVER alone.

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