I have seen a lot of people expressing fear the last day or so. I have seen it from friends, I have seen it from family, and I have seen it online. I’d be lying if I said I am not afraid. I am afraid. I am afraid of so very many things right now. I am afraid that people I love are less safe than they were a week ago. I am afraid that people in general are less safe than they were before. I am afraid that people, no matter what their opinions are, will be attacked or shut down for those beliefs. I am afraid for my safety.
I am an ally. Today as I write this post that word means something different to me than it did when I was younger. When I was younger I was in the shadows. I supported those close to me and those who found me. I gave them a place to be themselves. I have helped people of all parts of the community. There was the time my friend expressed his desires to be more than friends and was concerned I would abandon him for those feelings, which I didn’t. Then there was the time my acceptance of a friend as transgender gave them the courage to start what they needed to do to be happy. I was an ally in those moments, but I was in the shadows. I only gave those I interacted with hope and validation; maybe it got passed onto people they knew, but that is something I might never know.
As I write this post though I have been doing more as an ally. Just over a year ago I met Tyler and they have very quickly become one of my closest friends. For a little while they turned my world upside down, but once I acclimated it was clearer. I started out small; I took back to Twitter, re-tweeting things they tweeted. Sometimes I jumped into the middle of a Twitter war to help however I could. Then I started to re-tweet things other people said. I started to educate and converse with people around me, spreading the knowledge Tyler has shared with me. I went to the pride celebration not that far from us with Tyler and my sister. I walk around with my backpack covered in rainbow ribbons.
I am afraid though for my safety. I am afraid that my defense of the community makes me a target. I am so afraid that the first night post-election, I was feeling frozen in fear and wanted to step back from the community. I might have let that happen had Tyler not made a very convincing argument for why they couldn’t back down, how they need to stay out in the open. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Tyler not backing down I might have stepped back into the shadows. My loyalty runs so deep that I can’t step back while they’re still fighting.
So to everyone else who is afraid, no matter what group you belong to, I am afraid too. I know though I can’t let my fear conquer me, I can’t let my fear keep me from supporting and protecting the people I love, and I can’t let my fear stop me from trying to improve the world for those who are to come after me. I know what I am doing is small in comparison to what many others do, but that doesn’t make it less important. So I am not going to let this stop me, I am going to keep my voice out there.
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