I Can't Make You Understand
A few days after Christmas, I stood in my parents' bedroom, almost one year to the day after coming out. Only this time, I was announcing my recent engagement, trying to do so in a way that would preemptively deescalate any potential conflict the conversation could bring with it. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about on that front.
Things did escalate, but not on the issue of my sexuality. As we talked, the conversation shifted to my parents' grief over my public venting of anger through social media and my writing. In fairness to them, I overdid it at times. I was livid, and I was brutally honest about it; any vestige of respect or hope for white Evangelicalism had been utterly destroyed by the 2016 election.
I was hurt.
Whether my college president, pastors, or the various figures in the white Evangelical hierarchy unwilling to do anything but placate the whim of a vitriolic politic, my bitterness was roiled by every new statement. Every new tweet.
Every vapid silence.
In retrospect, I handled my rage in ways that were neither constructive nor healthy, and I would have saved myself some grief had I learned to channel my sentiments toward wholeness.
But this remains: My anger was and is justified.
I tried to intimate to my parents the grief I was experiencing over the cost the Trump administration was exacting on minority communities, both in terms of policy and rhetoric: People of color, the poor, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, and Muslims are those for whom this government is neither friend nor ally. I tried to elucidate on the rage and its source, the fear I had not just for my friends and their families, but for myself, the reasons I was adamantly opposed to the election of Donald Trump. It was to no avail.
No matter what I have to say, for some he will always be "the lesser of two evils", "still better than her", "pro-life".
He is none of these things.
And it occurred to me then: There is nothing I can say or do - I can't cry enough, scream enough, march enough, write enough - to make someone feel the existential fear I've experienced as a queer person. I cannot zap anyone's brain into knowing what it is for an undocumented mother to deny herself and her children necessary healthcare out of fear of exposure and deportation.
There is no breaking that wall of privilege.
The retiring of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is resurfacing familiar feelings, those of bitterness drenched in despondency.
A couple weekends ago, I was lying awake in my bed, reliving the week's spate of existentially disconcerting news breaks, primarily what the Supreme Court's imminent change means for my future.
What it means for the family I hope to have.
For the first time in my short life out as a gay person, I was seriously considering the reality that my marriage may be short-lived, in a legal sense. My rights as a gay person, part of a protected class, were no longer certain. (Granted, I recognize that is a very recent privilege.)
Again, I'm not sure how to convince others that my legal rights matter; those same people are inclined to believe any suffering I experience is evidence of inherit brokenness.
And it hurts.
It hurts so damn much.
This isn't just about the right to marry, either.
For trans people, for non-binary people, for the cases to come wherein an entire marginalized community's standing as a protected class under the law is called into question, it's a relentlessly challenging time even to breathe. For women, their rights to their own bodies and legal agency are being further threatened by a man whose respect for women is widely regarded as virtually nonexistent.
I know it's two years after the election, but every fucking week is a searing confrontation with its consequences.
I can't make anyone believe this is bad, if for any other reason than the fact that those most benefiting from this presidency are those whose privilege has protected them from collective marginalization.
I can't make anyone believe that putting children in cages as a punitive policy measure for deterrence is incontrovertibly wrong. I can't convince you the suicide rate for LGBTQ+ youth is empirically related to your beliefs. I simply can't make you understand, but I don't have to, either.
I love you enough to be angry at you, enough to tell you I'm hurt, and this pain is wholly justified.
And I hope you'll be sorry.