Shoveling Shit Against the Tide: How the Politics of Bruce Springsteen Make Me Confront My Shortcomings. And Yours.

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By Craig ONeal (The Boss~Live!), via Wikimedia Commons

Recently someone wrote to me letting me know he is also a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. He went on to say that Springsteen is a great lyricist and I agreed.

He wrote back again.

Not a bad guitarist or showman either. Actually the only thing I don’t like is his politics.

I responded, I’m very much a fan of all that. Including his politics.

The response I received was that this person opposed Springsteen’s decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina after they passed the HB2 Act ordering people to use the restroom that corresponds with the person’s gender at birth. The law also eliminates anti-discrimination protection for the LGBTQ population.

My inbox correspondent stated that the only people Springsteen “hurt” were his fans. Also, liberals call people names when they lose arguments.

My response is copied below, and I indicate where I’ve edited it:

I would probably be considered liberal, though I prefer not to label myself. I’m sorry if you’ve experienced liberals calling people names. I’ve experienced the exact opposite. Conservatives calling me “libtard,” telling me to “suck it up,” and “quit being a whiny bitch.”

I applaud his stance on cancelling concerts in North Carolina and I hope he continues to do so since that state’s government seems bent on eroding people’s rights. He didn’t just hurt his fans, a risk he took that alienated some fans of his. He also took business away from that state. Which will hopefully encourage business oweners there to take a stand and encourage their legislators to get rid of that law.

It may be easy for you to say, “If you have a penis, use that bathroom.” But I encourage you to remember that you (I assume) don’t have to wonder what it will look like if you use a bathroom that someone else decides you have no right being in. You have never experienced that fear. Neither have I. And so I read and speak to and listen to those who have so that I can try to understand exactly what is the big deal.

HERE I REFERENCED A PHOTO OF A WOMAN WITH WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A TRADITIONALLY FEMININE BODY, WHO ALSO HAD A PENIS. I AM NOT LINKING IT HERE BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO DRAG THAT PERSON INTO THIS DISCUSSION.

What bathroom should she use?

If she walks into a men’s room looking like that she runs the risk, just as I would, of being groped, harassed, or worse. If she uses the women’s room in NC, she runs the risk of being called a pervert and being arrested. That’s if she’s lucky. If she’s not, she’ll end up harassed, beaten, or worse.

I’m a woman. Listen to what I, and other women, have to say about “perverts.” They’re everywhere. I’ve been harassed, groped, called disgusting names. Other women I know have been assaulted, raped, beaten.

It doesn’t happen in the women’s bathroom. It happens everywhere. On the street. In stores. At work.

If you’re worried about your daughters, I encourage you to focus on educating men about how they speak to and treat women.

I am not going to quote the person. I just don’t feel like asking permission to share his words here. Plus, I’m not in the mood to edit for spelling and grammar.

His argument back was protect the children. They are all in danger from bathroom pedophiles and while he feels bad that this might negatively impact transgender people, he’s going to protect the little girls of the world. And that doesn’t make him a bad person.

No matter what I said, that’s what he kept coming back to. Sorry, but kids are more important in his book. Besides, he sometimes gets the shit end of the stick. Like when he gets searched a lot by the TSA because of his Irish name. (Something about the IRA.)

I said things like:

But your life isn’t in danger at the hands of the TSA. That example doesn’t really align with her experience.

And

They aren’t pervs. They are transgender.

And

Pedophiles don’t generally dress as women to get into the ladies room to attack children.

Which, I think, can give you an idea of the things he was saying. Oh, except at the end when he asked if we could discuss something less depressing. Like, how about something kinky?!?!

Uh, no. Actually, fuck no.

Finally I asked for his bathroom attack statistics and he said I could google them. He admitted it’s a low number, but it’s on the rise, according to him, because of these bathroom laws. Then he wished me well.

What can I say to that?

I hear what you’re saying and I know nothing of what it is like to be transgender and not feel safe using a restroom in public. I hear that it is humiliating and dangerous. I hear you when you say women are more in danger out of a public restroom than in it because of how men treat them. I hear all of that. But I am going to stick to my original position of saying I don’t give a rat’s pink ass because I’m protecting the tiny child wimmenz.

That’s a strong refusal to experience any type of empathy for a human being.

And I don’t know how to deal with that. I don’t know how to deal with someone who dismisses me during a calm, respectful conversation the minute I ask him to back up his claims with facts.

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I take my kids to an indoor pool fairly regularly. A few weeks ago while there, the lifeguard, an older man with a long ponytail both in his hair and in his beard, popped in a CD.

The first song was an uncommonly heard Bruce Springsteen song that I adore. It has very personal significance to my life, so of course my ears perked up. When the song ended, other songs by other artists came on, making it clear the CD was a mix and leading me to believe he probably made it. He probably chose that song himself.

The CD played on repeat while we were there. When the song came on for the third time, he had gotten up from his lifeguard chair and was standing near me, so I bit.

Are you a Springsteen fan?

I used to be.

Now, I know I’m biased, but used to be? What is that shit?

So I reply, Oh. I just assumed because of the song. That’s not a song of his you typically hear from a casual fan.

He smiled. Yeah, I love his work. I’ve seen him live. Incredible show. I just can’t stand his politics anymore.

At this point, I’m already done. One, because I do like his politics and I’m not looking to debate this guy. I’m here to swim and play with my kids. Two, because I’m typically able to disconnect the artist from the person. I realize not everyone else can, and that’s their choice, and also not something I’m looking to debate.

But he continues.

I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but years ago there was an incident with the police in New York City . . .

Let’s come to a full stop here for a moment.

Because my head, at this very moment, sounds like the inside of a church bell with all its ringing. I know exactly where he’s going with this, not just because I’m a Springsteen fan, but because I grew up right outside NYC.

I want to make sure you know where he’s going.

Super long story short:

On February 4, 1999, Amadou Diallo, a black man and undocumented immigrant working as a street vendor, stood outside his Bronx apartment building shortly after midnight.

Four plainclothes NYPD officers in an unmarked police car drove by, decided he was either a possible serial rapist suspect or maybe just standing there as a lookout (he was neither), and jumped out of their car.

He started running up stairs and pulled his wallet out of his jacket. The officers decided the wallet was a gun and the four of them fired their weapons 41 times, hitting him with 19 bullets. Diallo was unarmed.

He died. None of the officers were convicted. For one of them, Kenneth Boss, this was the second time he shot and killed an unarmed man. He still retained his job with the NYPD, given desk duty for a few years until his gun was returned in 2012. In 2015 he was promoted to sergeant.

Bruce Springsteen wrote a song in response to the incident titled “American Skin (41 Shots).” It premiered at a concert he performed in Atlanta on June 4, 2000. From there, he and the E Street Band headed to NYC for a ten show run at Madison Square Garden.

As word of the new song spread, PBA President Patrick J. Lynch wrote a letter to the association’s members. “The title seems to suggests that the shooting of Amadou Diallo was a case of racial profiling — which keeps repeating the phrase, ‘Forty-one shots,’ it read. “I consider it an outrage that he would be trying to fatten his wallet by reopening the wounds of this tragic case at a time when police officers and community members are in a healing period.” He also “strongly urge[d]” that officers neither attend the concert nor moonlight as security at any of his shows.

Lynch wasn’t the only one upset. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir also condemned Springsteen, while Bob Lucente, the president of the New York chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, took things a step further by referring to the singer as a “dirtbag” and a “floating f–.”

(Read More: How Bruce Springsteen Angered the New York Police Department)

I’m going to go a step further and clarify for you exactly what Bob Lucente, head of the New York chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, stated.

“He’s turned into some type of fucking dirtbag. He has all these good songs and everything, American flag songs and all that stuff, and now he’s a floating fag. You can quote me on that.

Sounds totally like a guy I want leading a police organization.

Let’s forget about the fact that the song actually takes a nuanced look at the incident, singing with empathy for both sides of the coin. The NYPD did not want him playing the song in New York. Because police officers were trying to heal.

Springsteen played it anyway.

Let’s cut back to me and the lifeguard.

He said, I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but years ago there was an incident with the police in New York City . . .

I looked him in the eye and said, Amadou Diallo.

Huh?

I continued.

I grew up in New York. The man’s name was Amadou Diallo. I assume that’s what you’re referring to.

Oh yeah, he said with a snap of his fingers. Yeah, I didn’t like that. The cops asked him not to play that song and he just wouldn’t listen. Just made more trouble for them at a time when they didn’t need it.

I walked away. I’d already crossed my arms as he was speaking, and then a second prior to him even finishing that sentence, I walked away.

What can I say to that? I gave up before I even began, and I’m ashamed of that.

An unarmed man was fired upon 41 times and shot 19 times and died on the steps of his apartment building but don’t sing that song because you might hurt somebody’s feewings.

That’s a strong refusal to experience any type of empathy for a human being.

And I don’t know how to deal with that.

I slipped back into the water and half heartedly played with my kids a bit longer, then left.

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While these two examples are very similar, they actually illustrate two different things that frustrate me.

In the first instance, I was writing. I didn’t feel the need to back down. I was calm and the conversation never got nasty. But as soon as I mentioned statistics, he shut the conversation down.

It happens to me all the time.

In the second instance, I was quiet and walked away because I hate confrontation and I feel as if I don’t articulate as well when I speak as I do when I write.

I hate that I do that.

Both things frustrate me to no end. I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

I get frustrated when I back down, and even more frustrated when others shut down once they realize I’m intelligent and am going to want to discuss actual facts.

Ultimately, I’m trying to figure out how to get through a willful, stubborn refusal to see anything but a person’s own experience. That’s all I seek.

The wisdom and strength to know how to navigate these conversations. I don’t know how to get people to listen. I don’t know how to refuse to be dismissed.

It feels, in the end, like I don’t know how to be taken seriously.

Or how to be brave.

 

Seriously Though . . . Now What?

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By Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I just came back from a political action summit that was thrown together last night by a local politician. I’m a bit shaky and have a screaming migraine. Probably from lack of oxygen. Attending was so far outside my comfort zone and then I ended up speaking. Into a microphone. In front of a room full of people.

So yeah. Shaking.

But I am determined to spit out all of these thoughts I have right now because I don’t think I’m the only one who is thinking, “OK so that happened. We marched the next day. Now what?

It’s going to be a long four years. One woman in attendance made a really great point. When Barack Obama won two terms in office, people on the right went batcrap crazy. But more importantly, behind the scenes, they mobilized. In ways I don’t think a lot of people really imagined possible. They’ve been winning local, state, and national elections and judgeships and if we are truly committed to preserving Democracy (which appears to be perilously close to becoming a failed experiment) we need to be ready and committed to fighting for the next four years.

Starting now.

Here are some ideas I came away with from the summit:

Get a Now What? Summit started in your area

  • Contact a local politician and tell him/her that you would like an event hosted that encourages and helps steer people who are looking to get involved more in community and/or political action but aren’t sure where to turn or how to get started.

Reach out to immigrants and/or refugees

  • If you live near a sanctuary city and can get involved, DO IT NOW. The new White House website states that Trump is dedicated to “ending sanctuary cities.” on their page supporting Law Enforcement Communities. If you don’t live near a sanctuary city, contact local refugee resources in nearby cities. Refugees and immigrants are already marginalized groups that now are being targeted directly.

Meet them where they are

  • By them I mean all of the people currently marginalized and under an ever-increasing threat. People of color, LGBTQIA, Hispanic/Latino, immigrants/refugees, etc. Whomever it is that you would like to support in some way, do not expect them to show up in your neighborhood or attend your events. I looked around the room today and saw zero people of color. So I pulled up my polka dot knickers (in my mind anyway) and when it came time to propose topics for action groups to discuss, I proposed, “How do we meet POC and other minorities where they are and provide support to their events and groups?” Step out of your bubble. Contact local churches or community organizations. Find groups on Facebook. Subscribe to newsletters and event calendars. THEN SHOW UP in whatever way you can. Send donations. Attend protests/marches. Link arms, figuratively and literally, in actionable ways so that you are demonstrating your real support of these groups/people.

Get local and vocal

  • Someone there had an amazing idea and this is what I’m running with. Local and Vocal. Essentially, a group that meets twice per month (or more) in a fixed location to write letters to politicians and other leaders encouraging or discouraging them from taking certain actions. I envision it as a starting off point for political action, as well as a place for people to connect. Especially when frustrated by the political process. I also want it to, at least once per month, visit with minorities and underrepresented groups in THEIR location. Churches, community centers, etc. The person who mentioned it has already started one in the city in which the summit was held. I’ll be starting one up in mine. Search for one near you!

You don’t have to do any of this

  • But if you can, you have to do something. If none of these ideas appeal to you, pursue what does.

Overall, the message I came away with today is this . . . the time for crying and lamenting and wishing and bashing are over. Shaking our fists at the TV or computer screen will do absolutely nothing to change what is coming or preserve what we hold dear.

If you hold something dear, do what you can.

I’m still physically shaky from attending. I legit have a migraine. I know that attendance at something like this is not possible for everyone.

Just do what you can.

If that means making one phone call a day, do it. If that means writing an email or letter a day, do it. If you can march or attend protests, do it. If you can donate money, do it. If you can in any way support a cause that matters to you or support people less privileged than you, do it.

I’m writing to you from day two of the next four years.

This isn’t a battle to be won. It’s a promise to be kept.

Now what?

Dig in. That’s what.

The Fate of the Flag

under-distress
Image created by Allison Bedford

I spent Inauguration Day 2017 with a large group of homeschooled kids. They were all busy going on about their day, but we’d set up a computer to C-Span’s livestream of the inauguration in a common area for anyone to watch if they wanted.

I couldn’t. It seemed so dismal. I appreciate the peaceful transfer of power and what a privilege it is to live in a nation that does that.

But I kept myself busy elsewhere.

At snack time, we all met in the common area.

I noticed, not for the first time that day, that every time the kids started to gather round and watch, it got very quiet.

One girl, about eight years old, turned to her mother and asked, “Why is he the President? I thought more people voted for Hillary?”

Her mother hemmed and hawed a bit, trying to figure out how to explain the electoral college. She finally answered, “That’s true, but not enough people whose votes counted less voted for her. There were too many people whose votes count more who voted for him.”

Her daughter was quiet a moment, nibbling on cheese and crackers.

She finally looked up at her mom and said, “But that doesn’t mean he’s a good person.”

“No,” her mom responded. “But he is the president.”

“Will he be a good person when he’s president?”

Her mother was quiet.

“I’m not sure,” she finally said with a shrug. “I haven’t seen many indications that he will be. Not just during the election, but in the years before. But honey, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good person in there. It doesn’t mean he won’t be a good person now. We just have to watch and see.”

My heart broke.

I stood to retreat into a different room because my throat felt thick and my eyes started to burn. It is always emotional for me to watch a mother answer difficult questions for her child. I know what that’s like and how it often churns your soul up, wanting to be honest but not wanting to frighten. Wanting to protect while also wanting to be realistic.

I gathered my son’s things and turned to walk away when a quiet 12 year old who’d been watching the ceremony piped up. He asked such a random question, so surprisingly apropos, and with such an air of genuine curiosity, that I almost fell over laughing.

“So does this mean the American flag is going to get a spray tan?”

History Repeats Itself, While I Can’t Even Look at the Pictures 

History repeats itself. We’re told that pithy little phrase and I think too many of us never truly get to the heart of understanding.

Image collage found here

I remember the first panic attack I had.

The thing is, I don’t think it was the first panic attack I ever had. I think it was the worst one I’d had at that point. Which meant that as it was happening, as I was crying and heard a high-pitched, frantic gasping for air and realized it was coming from me, I thought, “I hope this is what people call a panic attack. Otherwise, I’m dying.

I was driving home from work, listening to Howard Stern on satellite radio. I use the word driving loosely. This was New York during rush hour.

I was inching home from work.

The New York market was ripe for someone like him to make it as big as he has. We’re all begging for someone to take us out of our heads for the hours we spend inching along in our cars.

That evening I was listening to the replay from that morning and Robin was doing the news. I was half-listening in that way you do when you’re driving. Sort of like when you arrive somewhere and don’t remember the drive at all. It’s happening, but you’re not truly dialed in. So I knew the story Robin was sharing was about a woman who’d thrown her toddler off a balcony.

I must have heard, in some distracted part of my brain, the part about the mother doing it during a hysterical call to 911.

But my brain didn’t make the connection. Didn’t pay attention in time to figure out that they were playing the recording of the 911 call.

She was screaming. The child’s cries and screams could be heard in the background. Loud at first, then quieter as it was tossed away. Then, still quiet, but closer when the mother, still on the phone with 911 dispatch, went down the stairs to sit beside the child as he cried and whimpered on the ground.

That’s the first panic attack where I pulled over. Full stop. Pulled over because driving was no longer physically possible.

The best class I ever took was a Humanities elective on the Holocaust during college. The professor was amazing. The readings were stunning. It’s the only college class I ever took where I kept all the texts and still revisit them. I still own them among my most cherished books.

During the course of the class, throughout each topic we touched upon, he kept returning our focus to the people of Germany.

When the Jews in that village were rounded up, what did their neighbors do? The night of Kristallnacht, what did non-Jewish business owners do?

These are the questions he asked. Our answers were always the same.

Nothing.

They did nothing.

Which isn’t to say there weren’t heroes scattered here and there. But the majority of people, the majority of those not under direct threat from the Nazis, did nothing.

They looked away.

It wasn’t our final assignment, but somewhere towards the end of the semester he asked us to write an essay telling him what we would have done.

I don’t want to hear what you would do now. The you who sits before me. I want you to transplant yourself into the stories we’ve read. The eyewitness accounts we’ve read. Find yourself in our readings. Do you own a business? Go back and read what the business owners did. Are you a single mother? Go back and read what other mothers did. Maybe you’re just a student right now. We read about college students back then. Find a version of you in what we’ve read and be honest. No matter how difficult your answer is, I want you to be honest when you write to me of what you would have done as a non-Jewish German citizen during the Holocaust.

Nothing.

That’s the answer I put in my essay.

The truth is that, for as many times as we questioned in that class how they could have done nothing, we would have done the same. They were fearful. They felt impotent. They were brainwashed. What happened was a slow, systematic approach to destroying a people that almost succeeded.

Because mostly everyone did nothing.

The big lesson I took from that is that we can’t do nothing if it happens again. History repeats itself. We’re told that pithy little phrase and I think too many of us never truly get to the heart of understanding.

That’s the marrow of the lesson imparted to me in that Holocaust class.

We cannot sit and do nothing the next time.

There will be a next time.

I had a panic attack late last night. I’d been anxious all day. I tried going to bed early. I slept for a bit, but woke and couldn’t get back to sleep. I logged into Facebook and it was the third item in my feed.

The pictures.

One after another of children crying. Blood running down their faces. Eyes, haunted and too large for their tiny faces, set in stony expressions of shock. Cradling other children and weeping.

I had a panic attack on my kitchen floor.

I couldn’t look. I’m so sorry, but I can’t look.

As a mother, it’s the worst thing I can do. Not bear witness. I think of my children, silent and bloody and two-dimensional, in a photo from which people turn away and there’s never a way I’ll forgive myself.

For if it were my children, I’d scream. I’d scream for the world to keep looking. I’d never stop screaming. Until my cold, lifeless body were carted from the Earth, I’d never stop screaming for the world to look at my children.

Don’t you dare look away.

I’d never stop screaming.

But they aren’t my children.

So I cry and I hear the high-pitched gasps for air, frantic and riddled with guilt.

Because I can’t look at the pictures.

Because I’m impotent.

Because I’m doing nothing.

I learned the heart of that lesson, yet still I do nothing.

Except have a panic attack, while history repeats itself.

Seven Things You Can Do to Help Aleppo.

Here Are 16 Syrian Aid Organizations That Need Your Help.

A simple guide to donating money impactfully and efficiently in international emergencies like Aleppo.

My Mechanic’s Broken Thing 

Photo by Allison Bedford

He patched and painted the ceiling in the dining room after I took a step in the attic without the knowlege that one must only step on the beams.

One year, our Christmas tree just would not stay up. Until he screwed the stand to the floor. Right through the carpet.

I’ve watched him open up computers, fiddle around, button them back up and suddenly they work again. But once they’re loaded up, he’s got no use for them.

He has six children. Six times (Daddy, fix this times the number of toys each child has owned and/or touched and/or played with) plus (the number of friends who have visited our house times all the toys they’ve broken while here or brought because the toy was broken and they wanted him to fix it) equals roughly a metric fuck-ton of broken. 

No child has ever walked away without a working toy and a hug.

Ever.

He’s fixed tons of motorcycles, including that one I wanted to try. That little Sportster a woman rode. So I said, “Hey I bet I could ride that! Let me walk it into the garage!”

He stood back. I hopped on, kicked up the kickstand, took one step forward and then just keeled over to the side, unable to hold up the weight of the bike.

He fixed that, too.

Cars. Appliances. Skinned knees. Bruised egos.

He’s fixed all that.

The one thing I love the most, I can’t fix.

He’s said that to me a lot over the last three years. With a sigh and a sense of regret so thick I sometimes can’t breathe in the same room with it.

It’s not your job to.

That’s always my response. With a sigh and a sense of shame so thick I feel my throat closing.

Only I can fix me. We both know that.

But I’m no mechanic.

I flounder, searching for things that will work. Things I can manage. Things that will stick. 

Therapy and vitamins. BDSM and yoga. Old friends and new. Reading and writing. 

Changing how I view myself and the world around me. Changing how I confront the things that make me uncomfortable. Changing my life and how I want to live it.

That’s a lot of change to try and understand, let alone embrace.

He can’t fix me.

But every time he hugs me and tells me he’s proud . . . 

Every time he sits with his discomfort while I flit about in the breeze . . . 

Every time he lands a kiss on my forehead and a good girl in my ear . . . 

Every time he supports and encourages . . . 

He helps put a piece back in place.

He’s a mechanic who loves nothing more than when things are fixed. 

Except me. Even if I’m broken.

Don’t Silence Us: I Was Triggered Over and Over

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Photo credit Katie Tegtmeyer, cropped by me

The second story in my Don’t Silence Us series is from a woman who only wants to be identified as she described below. She wrote the piece below in its entirety, and I have not edited or changed a word. If you choose to share this story, and help amplify her voice, please use the hashtags #WereStillHere and #FixThisGOP

 
I’m 42 years old.
I have 3 daughters and 2 granddaughters.
I fear for them all.
I am a bisexual Native American and white woman. I was married to an abuser who voted for Trump. I was not suprised at all. Even though we are states apart, I swear I could see him sitting in a chair, nodding right along as Trump made comment after comment after derogatory comment about women. 
Watching that man on t.v. felt like watching my ex. The mood swings, the arrogence, the homophobia, the Islamaphobia, his hate for other cultures and colors was just…like…my ex.
I survived 4 horrific years being abused. I shouldn’t have to do that again. I did NOT consent to that from the ex or Trump. My ex raped me repeatedly.  He accepted money from men to allow them to rape me. He also beat the hell out of me. I feel that Trump will do the same things.
If we survive the next 4 years, maybe we can fix it, the broken system that allowed this election to happen.
I was triggered over and over by this male. I realize I’m nobody important but my vote should count!
#NotMyPresident

In light of the results of Election 2016, not just who was elected President but the hateful platform adopted by his party who now hold control of both Congress and the Senate, I’ll be featuring stories told by those who feel marginalized and/or voiceless in our country. You can email your story to authorallisonbedford@gmail.com. All stories are shared in complete anonymity, unless otherwise requested by the owner of the story. I encourage all who feel voiceless, or who work with those who need/want their voices amplified, to participate.

Don’t Silence Us: I Wish I Felt Able to Shout My Name

 

i-wish-i-could-shout-my-name
Photo credit Katie Tegtmeyer, cropped by me

The first story in my Don’t Silence Us series is from a woman who wants to be identified only as a 41 year old woman. She wrote the piece below in its entirety, and I have not edited or changed a word. If you choose to share this story, and help amplify her story, please use the hashtags #WereStillHere and #FixThisGOP


I wish I felt able to shout my name out loud and proud on this, but I don’t. As much of myself as I’ve laid bare, raw, open, bleeding, and vulnerable through my own writings, I just can’t right now.

I am terrified for our country and the world. Not just because of WHO we elected, but the fact that a majority of the people either felt his ideology was ok or that it was excusable enough to vote for him. I do not understand the level of hate and bigotry and entitlement that he embodies. I do not understand the ones who kept making it out that the fact he said “pussy” was the thing that riled people up and not the fact that he was leaving the concept of consent in a bloody heap on the ground. It’s not that he said pussy, it’s that he is totally cavalier about grabbing a woman without permission. It’s that we are condoning this to the younger generation. I don’t care if you say misogynistic attitudes are wrong. If you voted for him, you are telling boys that this is acceptable and the girls that it is to be expected. I don’t understand how we got to this place.

I could never vote for him. Not as a woman. And most especially, not as woman who has survived abuse, rape, and assault. I know what it’s like to have someone act as though I have no say as to what they do to my body, and to use violence to ensure I stay compliant. I could never vote for someone who embodies the morals, or lack thereof, of the ones who treated me this way.

I am horrified that someone like this was elected to be the face of our country. I’m gutted that people I know, respect, and love (and who say they love me) voted for him. I’m terrified for what this means for us all.

For several years, I lived (or actually just barely survived) in a situation where without food banks, bread ministries, and/or food stamps I would have starved. I know what it’s like to live with no air conditioning in the summer and no heat in the winter. I know what it’s like to live with no running water for months and to have to use precious food stamp money to buy jugs of water to bathe, eat, drink, and flush the toilet. I know what it is like to not have insurance and not be eligible for any kind of breaks or help. I know what it’s like to wait until I got sick enough I HAD to go to the ER because I could not afford a doctor that would make me pay upfront. I know what it’s like to feel ashamed of these things. Like they made me less than anyone else. And I know what it’s like to feel like I would never dig my way out of that pit.

Someone like him is from a totally different galaxy when it comes to things like that. That’s why it’s easy for him to want to cut programs even more. By doing so, how many more people will fall through the cracks like I did and so many others do?

It’s hard enough being in the LGBTQ community for me now. I cannot be openly so. Not with my family (who were all in the crowd that voted for him) and society in general around here. Maybe it’s cowardly on my part, but I’ve seen and heard too much hatred and violence towards anyone who is different. I don’t feel safe enough to be loud and proud. How much more will I have to conceal my identity? How much more will others feel smothered by the need to hide who they are just so they can stay alive or keep a roof over their heads or live without ConstAnt threats and judgment?

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m terrified. I’m obliterated emotionally. And I’m worried that all the progress we’ve made in human rights and equality just got completely derailed and will be sent back into the dark ages.

I also pray to every higher entity that I am wrong.


In light of the results of Election 2016, not just who was elected President but the hateful platform adopted by his party who now hold control of both Congress and the Senate, I’ll be featuring stories told by those who feel marginalized and/or voiceless in our country. You can email your story to authorallisonbedford@gmail.com. All stories are shared in complete anonymity, unless otherwise requested by the owner of the story.