There are a few days that I will remember—with near painful vividness—for the rest of my life.
The day of the Columbine shooting, the day I learned schools weren’t the safe haven of learning I thought they were.
9/11, the day the whole nation was attacked and mourned while the world changed.
The day my dad died and I was viciously reminded how short life is and how little control we have over it.
November 8th will be a day like those. That is now burned into my brain and stamped on my soul. It was the day I felt hope die.
The hope for progress and tolerance. The hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that my country loved me as much as I love it.
That night, as I cried myself to sleep in the arms of my partner, I lost hope. In a way that—somehow through all the other tragedies in my life—I never had before.
Which, I know, sounds so overdramatic and like eye-rolling liberal tears.
But it’s not.
This isn’t a liberal/conservative thing. This isn’t about tax plans or health insurance or court appointments or drug laws—even though all these issues are indeed very important and I wish they could be the biggest issue we have to worry about. This isn't about an outside enemy; this is about the darkness within our borders. One we must live with and work alongside to survive.
What terrified me in that moment—what terrifies me still—is that the rhetoric and sentiments being spread by this administration and its supporters tries to rob the people they view as their enemies—liberals, immigrants, people of color, muslims, women, the disabled, veterans, and so many more—of their humanity. Of our humanity.
And, terrified or not, with tears in our eyes and fear in our hearts or not, we cannot allow that.
When Hillary Clinton embraced the term “Nasty Woman,” so many of us cheered. Because the title and the emotions it evokes resonated within us.
We have been called nasty because we refused to fit ourselves into the boxes they issued us. We’ve been called nasty because we railed against their limitations and expectations we didn’t want to live by. We’ve been called nasty because we would not make ourselves less just to make someone else feel like they were more.
In that moment, nasty became a badge of honor.
We, as a nation—as a people, as a world—need more of that kind of nasty.
Because there are some crazy, improbable things happening right now. The world is becoming a crazy, improbable place. And, like other times in our past where this has happened, we must give this moment in history a voice.
We must become the thing they fear. The voice and vision of an era. We need to take all the anger and terror inside us and let it fuel us. Fuel us to act and to create. We cannot fester under the weight of our sorrow; we need to use it or we risk losing ourselves in it. We need to share it or risk missing our moment to put more empathy into the world. To allow it to see the things—the ideas and, more importantly, the people—it would rather ignore. Few things make people meet those they view as problems as people like art. Few things change the mind and touch the soul like art.
Art has always been an act of rebellion. And they know it. One of Trump’s first budget plans is to “privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities entirely.” Artists have always been targets for the power-hungry. We have always been tasked to be freedom fighters. Have always needed to be bold. We explore the impossible and make the inexplicable real. We are the light that shines on society and shows it for what it is and what it could be. Times like these require more, not less, from its artists.
We cannot cower. We cannot be complacent. We need to “ask one final question man to man. A simple yet profound question recently asked of me. ‘When the stage is dark and the lights and cameras are off … Who are you? And more importantly, who do you want to be?’ ”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be bold.
I want to be nasty.
I want to be an artist.
This is what I tried to do in my stories in Coming Together’s Moving On anthology. In “When There Are No Words,” I wanted to capture November 8th, to let its demons out into the light. To give voice to the scars I will now carry for the rest of my life. And, hopefully, it gives someone who doesn’t understand that fear and sadness a peek at an experience outside their own. In “The Help,” I wanted to explore the idea of power and submission. The difference between who we feel forced to submit to and those who we freely share and exchange power with. Because, if freedom and equality are truly ideals we want to live by, we need to examine that difference closely.
Please check out this great, defiant anthology that celebrates diversity and equality in the face of our uncertain future, whose proceeds go to Move On.
Get Your Own Copy Now On:
Barnes & Noble