Scared Shitless in the Era of Donald Trump

I keep hoping that i’ll wake up and this will all have been just some crazy, messed-up dream. But it’s not a dream. This is real life. Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. Like many of you, I’m sure, I spent a good chunk of this week in tears, scared shitless, in total disbelief. I think I’m half still in shock.

Wednesday was worst.

Tuesday night I was buffered by the company of good friends, and the consumption of so SO much alcohol. But then I woke up and—no longer emotionally shielded by shit-tons of booze—almost immediately began to cry. The truth is no amount of Jack & Ginger—or red wine, beer, sake, framboise, moonshine, bourbon, rye, tequila, vodka, and whatever else I drank Election Night—is enough to wash it all away.

This is the world we live in.

Several (many) of my friends have been called “faggot” or “nigger” this week, one had their car vandalized, one has received death threats. None of my friends really feel safe. No one is traveling alone at night. We’re scared. Scared of being attacked for being different, that our right to be married is going to be taken away, our right to serve in the military, our healthcare; Vice President-Elect Mike Pence is on the record as wanting to do away with federal funding for HIV medication all together so, there’s that to think about…

This is no dream. It’s a global nightmare.

There was a part of me who believed that the grey faced oligarchs who actually run the American Empire would never let a man this manifestly unqualified and ill-suited for the Presidency sit in the Oval Office. And hate it or loath it, we do have an Empire. And it’s shitty—it bombs poor brown people, it props up dictators, it enables the fuck out of Israel—but it also keeps dictators in check, and undergirds a system of global trade which, while flawed an unequal, really does benefit the lives of a majority of people on this planet. That’s responsibility.

And you can think that system is broken, which I do. You can think that system too often benefits wealthy, white, anglo-europeans at the cost of brown bodies and lives, which I do. You can think that system as it is currently constructed is dangerous to the environment and health of the planet, which I do. But you have to recognize that even threatening to abandon our commitment to institutions like NATO and the WTO invite a chaos we have not seen in generations.

And some people—people I know and love—voted to blow it up. And I think I can almost see why. Some of them are racist, misogynist asshats, sure. But not all of them. There are people who voted for Obama twice who voted for Trump; people who see fewer economic opportunities and skyrocketing drug abuse for people that look like they do, and they embraced identity politics. They don’t see how the empire benefits them because in American politics we almost never acknowledge the Empire—they only see the cost.

The Democrats ran someone who was promising to maintain the status quo, they voted for the guy who promised them change. The Democrats issued many sensible policy positions, but no unifying vision for what the future could be.

He promised to “Make America Great Again,” and they believed him, because they were afraid.

But who has any clue how Trump will govern once he actually grasps the reigns of power? He has been on every side of every issue. Who knows what he really believes about anything? But we do know he has both houses of congress and an open seat on the Supreme Court. Will he be a conventional Republican? Will he be the national socialist he ran as? Will Trump reign in a New American Golden Age that lasts 10,000 years? I don’t think so, but I’ve been consistently surprised for this entire two-years-long campaign, so I’m just going to admit I have no idea whats coming, while I prepare for the possibility that it’s going to be really really bad.

Because it really really could be.

One ray of light of hope for me has been San Francisco, where my friend Tom Temprano won his election to the College Board. My best friend Leo Herrera moved back to SF to run his campaign, and when I was last home I got to watch them up close as the worked so hard to earn the votes of the citizens of San Francisco. They love the city that we call home so much that they braved the brutality of San Francisco politics in order to make it better. I’m so proud of these men and honored to consider them part of my faggot family. I’ll be honest, part of me wishes that I was there, that had been been able to help in their campaign for more than a weekend, that I was there to Save Our Stud, to help save the soul of Our City.

Brenden Shucart, Tom Temprano, & Leo Herrera
Brenden Shucart, Tom Temprano, & Leo Herrera

More than one of my friends have suggested that maybe I should come home, maybe this isn’t a great time to be a fag from California living in the Old South. And the thought of weathering the coming troubles from San Francisco’s warm embrace is very tempting, I miss San Francisco, like woah.

But I love Atlanta.

This is my home now. And I want to invest in my home. I also think maybe this is where I can do the most good. Not that I’m any great savior—I’m flawed as hell—but over the next few years things are going to be so hard for queers and people living with HIV, and they will likely be especially hard in the South, and they are gonna need all the help they can get.

I woke up this morning thinking, “No more fucking around Shucart, the next four years are going to be hard as hell.” It’s the same thought i’ve woken up to every morning since Thursday. “I can’t afford check-out, fall down a bottle, or give into my demons. I don’t have time to put off plans and projects until tomorrow, because tomorrow is not a guarantee. We can no longer afford to bicker, and tear each other down. Because if we aren’t united when the boots come down, we break.”

Now I’m feeling weirdly calm and focused—and just trying to prepare for the worst.

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