Once upon a time, I didn’t care about politics. I lived in my own “little world,” and it didn’t occur to me that the changes in our government had any effect upon my everyday life. I was Princess Aurora, living in the forest, blissfully unaware of Malificent’s curse.
In every fairy tale, there is a day when the princess realizes there is more to the story. In 2008, the future President Barack Obama ran for President. I didn’t like him in the primary—whether because I was ready for a woman to run for President or from some innate racial bias I didn’t know I had, I’ll probably never know. But Hillary Clinton had gone to college in Massachusetts, and had done a lot for Massachusetts children. Although Barack Obama won the primary, I didn’t know much more about him than what I read in the papers. I still liked his ideals better than George W. Bush’s.
On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, he gave a speech guaranteed to slay dragons. (Okay, my metaphor got a little jumbled there, but it was a great speech.) The newly elected President called for every American to answer a call to duty. He spoke of a woman named Ann Nixon Cooper, who had lived through a time where women and people of color were not allowed to vote.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
I knew at that moment, that whatever else happened, I wanted to see where our country would go from there. Within that 8 years, I saw our potential. President Obama made many mistakes. Every President does. But he tried—he encouraged equality. He encouraged congress to pass the closest we’ve gotten to universal healthcare (not sweeping enough, certainly, but he passed what he could at the time.) His support of artists who were also people of color brought attention to the racism still prevalent in our society and started a long conversation that still hasn’t ended. He governed, for the most part, with compassion. He was the prince, or maybe the Fairy Godmother.
My children, who are LGBT, got to see a White House lit up in rainbow colors. They heard the term LGBT from the President’s lips. We lived in blissful content, that moment when Snow White blithely cleans the dwarves’ cottage without a care in the world, chatting with the birds and making the best of things.
But fairy tales don’t last forever. When Donald Trump showed up on the political scene, no one gave him the credit he deserved. We all laughed at the idea of him getting through the primary. How could he? He was crass, insulting, and had run several businesses into bankruptcy. Surely no one would believe this was to right person to run the country?
Apparently, some people did. Like a wicked stepsister he got an invite to the ball.
The night of the election I stayed up all night. My gut roiled, and my pulse threatened to jump out of my throat. I couldn’t believe that the man who had said all of these foul things was elected President. I couldn’t believe that my kids would have a guy who had done his worst to destroy the LGBT community as a Vice President. Like Hans in Frozen, he’d convinced millions he was a good guy who spoke the truth instead of a big, bad wolf out for himself.
I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. No one wants their President to falter. But every day it got worse. I didn’t worry so much about a man who didn’t know how to run a country. There have been many Presidents who didn’t enter the position with that knowledge. But they surrounded themselves with people who did. The President’s cabinet picks were, for the most part, unsuited to their positions. He expected the country to run like a business—and our Constitution says it should not run like one. Our Constitution allows for freedom of expression, even against the highest power. Our Constitution says that the President is not an island unto himself, but rather has equal partners in Congress and the Judicial Branch.
And the attacks on the LGBT community broke my heart. Bad enough to have all mention of the word LGBT erased from the White House website, but to have protections for LGBT federal workers removed, protections for trans students removed, and to tweet—TWEET—that trans soldiers would no longer be allowed to serve felt like the moment it turns midnight and Cinderella’s coach turns back into a bunch of rats.
….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
I became an activist in that period of time. My LGBT children might realize the government didn’t have their backs, but I would. I would be a voice to power. Over the past two years, I’ve refused to avoid politics like a Sleeping Beauty or damsel in distress. I’ve rallied against the President, called out the injustices of his administration, and been called a snowflake for it. For most of my life I was the one who shuts out the world in the hopes it will all just blow over. But like Elsa, I’m never going back. The past is in the past.
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