By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
It will be okay.
My best friend called me in tears the day after the national election fearing the worse. Will he and his husband be okay? Will their two adopted children be safe? What of the national culture where racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and homophobia seems to grow? These are very valid concerns in a crazy, unpredictable political landscape turned upside down.
The electoral delegate victory, as it stands now, not popular vote, of Donald Trump and his election as president is now an LGBTQ reality. Maybe the president-elect will be a traditional Manhattan Republican (social liberal or moderate and fiscal conservative).
The president-elect’s reliance on the Heritage Foundation, a socially and economically conservative think-tank, and talk of potentially appointing politically moderate gay men to high offices underscores Trump’s ability to be a maverick, unpredictable, and Machiavellian.
He’s considering at least two gay men for very high level positions. Richard Grenell may become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. High tech guru Peter Thiel is likely to become a senior advisor with direct access to Trump. The president-elect also has declared marriage equality settled law and wants to move on, though skepticism remains high.
Trump also has a reputation for conflict. He likes playing folks off of one another before making a decision. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) was a master at it. FDR would task senior advisors to find different solutions, sometimes without the other knowing it. At worst, infighting occurs. At best, it’s competition, or as Trump’s supporters call it, a “conversation”.
I voted third party. It didn’t hurt Hillary Clinton. After all, I live in New York where the Democratic presidential nominee was expected and did win by a wide margin. Nor did my third party support help Trump. Hopefully, my vote underscored the need for a viable third party.
The understandable anxiety many feel in the LGBTQ community underscores the challenge of finding inner calm as ugliness and uncertainty swirls. Of course you don’t need the outcome of a presidential election to have angst in your life.
Fear of job loss, living paycheck to paycheck, managing an abusive boss on a daily basis, pressures to pay rent or a mortgage, or student loan debt not likely to be paid off, are among the challenges many face. Inner stillness, especially during these uncertain times, must be the focus while taking comfort in the family you’ve made, and you’re very blessed if you have one.
Similarly, folks often think if they move, buy a house, or adopt a pet, some inner void will be filled. Frequently, they’re disappointed. There’s always one piece of baggage that has to be taken wherever you go and it is part of whatever you do: yourself. Unless you’ve anchored your inner well-being to some constant, inviolable peace, life’s craziness and disappointments have a way to snatch even small amounts of joy from daily life.
Find spiritual quiet within to be more grounded and you’ll be better prepared to respond, not react, to the social and political challenges coming in the next four years. Sometimes being firmly anchored requires the harshness of taking the world as it is, not as you want it, while being persistent to make the incremental, and where possible, major changes needed. Fortify yourself with being grateful for the things you have and remember to embrace small joys each day whether it’s spending time browsing in a bookstore or buying yourself some fresh cut flowers.
LGBTQ people have endured for thousands of years. Defiant. Resilient. Persistent. Self-empowered no matter the obstacles. In every century, the LGBTQ community has made positive contributions to society and the greater good. Obviously, the LGBTQ community is not going away. It will continue to change the world for the better because of individuals like you.
*Paul is a corporate chaplain, lawyer in the Albany, NY area, and author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”