I’m not a US citizen but I know how many of you are feeling right now. Trust me.
I live in the United Kingdom and despite rational reasoning and facts, my country voted to leave the European Union by a close margin - similar in number to the lead that Trump took over Hillary Clinton in the early hours of the election. If you are an LGBT+ person, a person of colour, someone living with HIV, a disability; or maybe you’re someone scratching out an existence on welfare, or struggling to decide on whether you feed yourself or keep the lights on tonight. You are not alone. You will never be alone.
I live in a country where the regional Government has stalled on LGBT+ legislative progress, so the courts have become the defenders of our rights in law. We do not have marriage equality or the freedom to donate blood without restraint on our private lives. Two communities face down each other in the debate chamber and in the playgrounds and hallways of our schools. We don’t have a mechanism by which women seeking an abortion can get one freely, safely or legally. In May 2015, the UK came out of five years of a conservative-led government, only to enter into another five year term of stronger, more consolidated conservative government dominating over a reduced and ineffective Left. Our leader is a woman, yes, but one that believes in racing ahead with plans to take the UK out of the EU despite the economic and social impact it has already had and a foreshadowing of a weakened Britain on the world stage.
We have bore the brunt of divisive rhetoric around Muslims, immigrants and those fleeing the horrors and inhumanities of the genocides and massacres of the Middle East and Africa. We have heard the term “Take Back Control” rebranded as a by-word for switching off our compassion and building up the walls. I have witnessed the march of the far right on the streets of our towns and cities. Our nation has witnessed the rise of ultra-conservative politics which have developed into mass movements that shift their measure of success from broken windows to votes tallied. Our economic prowess has diminished rapidly in a number of months and our government may soon have the power to unpick, repeal and enforce our rights and new instruments of authority and oversight at their whim. Our press and politicians have openly attacked the mechanisms by which we insist upon fairness and justice and called into question the legitimacy of the rule of law.
You’re probably thinking this is all eerily and frighteningly familiar. My point is this.
We’re still here. This is not the end of the road.
I’m a marriage equality campaigner in a country that up until 1982 criminalised men for consensual sexual activity with each other. Only a week or so ago our First Minister declared that her party will veto any legislative moves to legalise marriage equality. I’ve heard it all before, for four years or more now but it still hurt; but I don’t let it slow me down or stop me. A few years ago it may have convinced me to give up because it sometimes seems like things will never change, but when I am discouraged I remember the words of the husband of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox:
“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life.”
We owe it to Jo’s children, and to Jo and to the hundreds of women that have come before and sacrificed everything for a better tomorrow that they didn't get the chance to see, to never give in, never give up and never back down. Trump’s impending Presidency and the looming threat of a Republican controlled Congress is scary and unsettling and maybe even fear inducing but today we mourn. Tomorrow we fight. And in the distance we rise.
A note from the Editor: We have an uncertain future ahead of us. As long as we stand up for what's right, we will prevail. Even the smallest action can be the catalyst to unstoppable change. If you want to help organizations supporting the environment, women, people of color, LGBT+ issues, immigrants or other worthwhile causes then check out this great Jezebel article.
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