Kate Bornstein

Dearest Queer Family and Our Beloved Allies,

We are heading into unknown and potentially dangerous times. Everyone with a liberal mindset, everyone living any sort of marginalized life is responding with great apprehension. Yes, it’s likely that many of the freedoms we take for granted will be rolled back. The usual suspects will most likely be targeted for further marginalization: women, children, people of color, the working class, the elderly, and of course anyone who falls outside of cisgender heteronormativity. I’m so, so sorry.

Me, I gotta say I saw it coming—along with a lot of folks who’ve been keeping an eye onthe parallel worlds of 1930’s Weimar Germany and today’s nationalist upheavals.  Please, please google details of similarities between now and then: the flowering of a highly visible vibrant queer lifestyle, a deep binary political divide, great economic imbalance, a fragmented globalist left wing obsessed with in-fighting, and the rise of a united right-wing nationalist racism, anti-semitism, and queer-phobia. All of this ultimately led to the rule of a populist strongman bully who promised to restore the country to some fabled early greatness and purity of national identity. So… when Trump was elected, I was heartbroken for all my people, but I was not all that surprised. History will demand her patterns, and we must adapt our hearts and minds to accommodate History’s ebbs and flows.

There are many ways you might respond to what is rapidly becoming institutionalized self-serving hatred, lies, fear, and secrecy. You may choose a life of active political resistance. You may choose to run for office, or actively support the election of those with a liberal agenda in your state, and in local politics. You may choose to peacefully protest, or participate in other forms of nonviolent resistance. You could choose to respond with covert sabotage. You might choose to meet force with force. You can discover for yourself a way to hide or run away. You can work to forge coalitions with similarly oppressed peoples. You can work alone or with others to bring help and aid to the needy. All of these options are available to you, and no one has the right to tell you which of these options or any other is best for you.

It’s up to each of us to analyze our situations, take stock of our personal and community resources, and respond with integrity. It’s certainly not my place to advise you on what path to take in response to the oncoming storm. No, my place as an elder in our queer world is only to give you some advice on how to best settle your heart and your mind to deal with hard times. This is my advice:

1) Put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others put on their masks. Many of us will have the instinct to rush out and help others. Before you do, please make it your first priority to fortify your health and faith. Now’s the time to eat well, and get yourself enough sleep. There are lots of ways to eat well—choose the way you can afford in terms of time and money. And, dear heart, now is the time to set yourself more firmly on whatever spiritual path that beckons to you. Get in touch with others who share your faith, and lean on each other. Widen your sphere of trust. People will surprise you with their trustworthiness.
2) Even if Hillary had won, we would still have a deeply divided country with a binary mindset. You know how to shatter binaries: you question them, and you introduce a viable third. Now is the time to divest yourself of any binary beliefs. Keep in mind in the coming days that anyone offering you a choice of either/or is doing so out of fear, habit, anger, or at best a simple lack of imagination. You never have to join any either/or politic or activism. Really. It would be better for all if you act on your own, rather than support the foolish idea that one side or the other has all the answers: neither side does or ever will. And that brings me to the next point…
3) The root of all that’s scary in these coming times is the very powerful belief in, and enforcement of, this flawed notion: I am always right, and you are always wrong. Self-serving hatred, secrecy, fear, and lies are all tactics used to advance and defend binary systems of ideology. It will be tempting to respond in kind to the hatred about to be unleashed upon our country—that would be a grave mistake. The only way we will survive these times is with love in our hearts, and an understanding that no one is always right. No one, not even us. The best response to binary politics is forge coalitions with love and respect for difference. We start by firming up our friendships, and uniting our own communities. We’ve been divided too long.
4) Keep in mind that this too shall pass. The oncoming days of darkness and evil will pass. It will take longer than you want, and it will be sooner than you think. The way of any binary is a pendulum swing. Right now it’s swinging in one direction. It will swing in the other. I promise. Maintain the center, be open to compromise. It will pass.
5) Finally, have heart. Yes, bad times are coming upon us—no doubt, it will be very bad. It’s going to be easy to fall into despair, and thoughts of suicide. But have heart. No matter how bad it gets for you and your loved ones, you always have the ability to make it a little bit better. Always. And you have a lot of leeway in how you make it better for you and your loved ones. You can do anything—anything it takes—to make life better for you and your loved ones. Anything! The only rule you ever have to follow in the coming years is, don’t be mean. Mean is what got us into this mess. Mean is what will dig us deeper into the mire. Do whatever you like, honey bunny. Just don’t be mean.

That’s all I’ve got to say for now. All I can add is that I love you for all the love you have in your heart. I respect you for all your good will and instincts to help others.

kiss, kiss

Auntie Kate