Sissy… about to pick a fight with that sketchy dog in the mirror.
I say it to Sissy all the time: “You don’t have to go to every fight you’re invited to.” She’s a reactive dog. If another dog so much as gives her the side eye, she’s hackles up, ready to dig in, unafraid to fight. I get it. I’m a reactive human. At least I am online.
It’s election season again. And Pride month is coming. And those two things combined leave me lurching and reeling at all the bullshit happening online. No matter how hard I try, I can’t understand those who support Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. I simply can’t. And as much as I hate Trump, I think DeSantis is worse. The things that are happening in Florida—book bans, CRT restrictions, state college takeovers, queer healthcare limitations, guns for everyone, immigration bullshit, outlawing drag—are tyranny at its best. He is a madman, intent on making Florida a safe haven for cis, white, straight men who love their guns and hate anyone who looks, acts, or feels differently than they do. It’s a scary time, for sure. Terrifying to be living here as a queer woman looking for safety and community.
And Pride is coming. St. Pete has one of the biggest Pride celebrations in the nation. Normally, I would want to attend everything. But this year, I’m scared. I don’t want to be scared. Giving in to the homophobes and bigots just empowers them. But they have guns. And they’re not afraid to use them.
Yesterday, there was another tired argument online about Target and its Pride collection, especially the items geared toward the transgender community. I’m so tired of the “they’re shoving it down our throats,” “this is Satanic,” “boycott Target” conversations, I could scream. But I didn’t scream. I engaged. As always, I thought entering the conversation with facts and science and a level head would somehow make someone out there—anyone out there—rethink their stance on the LGBTQ+ community.
These people don’t want to rethink their beliefs. They want to double down on their hate. They cling desperately to their uninformed opinions and tell me to “take that woke shit somewhere else.”
It happens every time. Maybe someday I’ll learn.
But I don’t want to learn that people are unwilling to listen, to expand, to rethink. I want to believe that everyone wants to know better so they can do better. Be better. But some people really don’t want to be better. They want to be right. They want to be privileged. They don’t want to challenge belief systems they learned from their grandparents, their parents, their communities. They don’t want to change because change is scary.
I’m going to try to disengage from the online political battles that are coming as much as I possibly can. I’m doing it in the name of self-preservation. I learned during the 2016 election that that shit can eat you alive. It feels wrong to stay silent—I still feel like I can reach that one person out there who truly wants to open their mind—but I also have to protect myself.
Here’s what I will ask my friends and neighbors and family members: Please, please just think. Know that when you vote for someone who is actively taking away the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, who is taking away the rights of females and parents, who is stifling 1st Amendment rights in the name of “protecting the children” while simultaneously arming madmen who will kill them in their classrooms, you’re next. That’s what tyrants do. They make themselves as powerful as they can by making everyone else less powerful. Please, please just think. If you love me and vote for someone who is actively taking away my right to love who I love, that’s an act of violence against me and my community.