No, I'm not talking about remembering to give my felines milk even though they all do thoroughly enjoy drinking it. I am talking about remembering the lessons we should have learned from Harvey Milk and the fight for LGBT rights in San Francisco that ultimately cost him his life.
The lessons of Milk are many and varied. They all surround a central theme though. Never give up. Yes, we now have a leadership in Washington that is about as anti-LGBT as you can get. The Vice President Elect believes we should be able to be fired because we're gay. That torture is an appropriate way to treat us in the hopes it turns us straight. That we should not be afforded the same benefits and rights as a gay couple as that of a straight couple. That we are all pedophiles and should not be allowed around children, shouldn't be allowed to be parents, and for the transgender amidst us that having a mis-assigned gender is a mental issue and that male to female are only doing it so they can rape the women in the woman room. These are all things he is on record for, including legislation he has pushed for. The Republican congress is not much better, and the President Elect has signaled that he agrees with them. While I focus on LGBT issues here, we can find similar for the other major part of my life, Neo-Pagan religions.
I woke up Wednesday morning to a world where many of my friends no longer feel safe. They fear that all that they have worked for is going to be ripped away from them. Some are just starting out in their lives, others have been at it for a long time and have put down roots. I admit, I am fortunate in that I live in a very liberal part of the country, and it is unlikely that my rights within the state of New York will be affected unlike those in states like Ohio. I have stated, and do so again, that my home is open for any that are looking to get out of wherever it is that they feel unsafe. I will help how ever I can.
But we must also come back to the lessons of Milk. What he found, and what he believed is that you change the world by showing people that you are there, and you're not unlike them. This is the difficult part. You need to get out of the closet. You need to talk to people, especially people of different political stripes. You cannot shut them out of your life. If they, or you, live in an echo chamber of only those that you agree with, you, nor they, will know anything different and will be able to dismiss anything different as a minority, and something that can be ignored. With social media, we have become siloed, and we are all talking in our own echo chambers.
I encourage everyone to get out there. Get to know people of other stripes. Talk freely about yourself. Be you Neo-Pagan, Gay, Democrat, Republican, or whatever. Talk about yourself. Show people you are not any different than them. Show them that you want the same things in the grander scheme of things... a safe place to live, a living wage, ability to marry the person you love... to name a few universal desires. Show them that your lifestyle has no affect on theirs. It is breaking down the barriers and showing we are similar is how we move on from here.
So please, take the next days or weeks to grieve over what has happened. Many of us are shocked, upset, angry.... But once you get through that, it's time to act. Don't act in violence, or breaking the law, but act in a positive way showing the world that we are not scary, we are not different, and that we deserve to live the life we want to live.