Looking forward: We must stay strong and stay together
By Chelsea Manning, Medium. December 1, 2016
Every day, I can feel the slow terror of us going backwards. Repression. People losing their heath care. People being stopped from voting.
People being blocked from speaking, and exercising their rights. I fear the horrible consequences that are facing a lot of us in the coming days, months, and years.
All of the people I care about. Everybody is hurting. Everybody is looking for something.
And I am no different. I am scared and I don’t know what to do, but I feel a lot of responsibility.
When I reflect on my own journey and political consciousness, I realize that I didn’t really think about politics until the passage of Proposition 8 — the ballot measure in California that repealed marriage equality. I suppose I “cared” about politics, but it was more of an abstract chess game. You know, like college basketball: A fun game that you watch for sport. Politics was intellectual and disconnected for me. It was something that happened in the world but not necessarily to me.
I really didn’t start giving a damn about politics until Proposition 8 passed. That pretty much changed everything for me. Even though political decisions affected my life in infinite ways before that point, I didn’t have a consciousness or analysis about it. When Proposition 8 happened, it was a wake up call to me, and I never looked back.
Although I had never imagined getting married before, as I watched our rights being suddenly snatched away, I felt like I got kicked in the stomach. My perspective of the world changed.
For the next few months, my insatiable curiosity dragged me to conduct intense research. I learned many things: our history, our stories, our theories, our movements, and our ideas. It was inspiring.
The process taught me that I cannot just learn from digesting the narratives that our fed to us. I learned that I had to push back and dig a little deeper. I felt the deep and unrelenting sense that I couldn’t just look the other way all the time.
Now, people are asking me what to do. I don’t know what to say. I feel just as scared and helpless as everyone else. I wish I could keep my cool and give an answer about what to do next. The answer is that I just don’t know.
For the queer and trans community, this year could mark a major turning point. I worry that our future is uncertain. Now, we face something that could be more vicious and terrifying than almost anything we’ve had to fight together as a community. There will be attempts to divide us — to turn us against each other. There may be efforts to roll back legal protections that have helped us survive. There may be forces in government aimed at subjecting us to discrimination or worse. It is scary to think about.
How will we protect ourselves and unite together?