In some circles, I might be referred to as a “fanboy”. This term is typically used to describe someone who is obsessive about some element of pop culture, usually science fiction, comic book or films. When I attach myself to something, it sticks.
I've loved The Little Mermaid since 1989, I watch it on a weekly basis. Superman is my go-to hero; his massive, hairy chest and luxurious flowing cape being an obsession of mine for over 20 years.” The Simpsons”, up until the last five years, have always been a go-to. But, another figure that I grew to love from childhood wasn't quite as sassy as Ariel and never sported a crimson cape. She embodied charisma, intelligence and seemingly rose from some dysfunctional ashes to become a successful lawyer, an activist, the First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton became one of my many fanboy obsessions. I watched as she grew and changed. I devoured her entire bibliography of books; starting at an age when most of it probably went over my head.
At 13, "It Takes a Village" taught teenage me it was acceptable to have a chosen family not related by blood. "Living History" cemented my support for Mrs. Clinton. The words were like kindling on the already burning fire I had for her continued success. "Hard Choices" solidified my belief that she was not only the most qualified person to be the President of the United States, but should have the honor to be history’s first female POTUS. Finally, "Stronger Together", written with running mate Tim Kaine, was, admittedly a surprise. Although critically panned, this paperback was an outline of policy; an explanation of the what and why of her 2016 campaign. It was something the Trump administration couldn’t fathom producing.
I offered the latter to my co-workers in West County. To call them co-workers is unfair.
I had been working with the same company for close to 10 years. The staff and I were all around the same age, we made similar amounts of money. We were a family. I offered them each of her books and was always met with a half-smile and a negative reaction.
I was the black sheep. I was the only Hillary enthusiast. I was also the only gay person. I also do not have children, but many of them did. Each time we got into a discussion about an article that they would share or bring up about Hillary murdering people, about Benghazi or about her plans for healthcare - you name it - I had to answer with reputable sources for them to read for themselves. I pressed for the source of their news stories. They never knew.
They did, however, say that they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Trump.
They seemed to listen to my facts, to read my emails and to begrudgingly agree to not vote for the most unqualified candidate to ever get so far in an election cycle.
I sat with different friends at Atomic Cowboy for the Presidential debates. The room was usually crowded, the WiFi signal carrying the awkward, unconventional questioning was frustratingly weak. We lounged in a room full of like-minded people of all races and ages. The bar laughed and booed and made eye contact with a “We've got this!” chip on our collective shoulders. The Liberal group sipped whiskey and dreams of history being made danced in our heads.
I sat alone the evening of the election. The numbers started to pour in and confusion began to take hold. I opened wine and my computer. I utilized multiple screens to compare the numbers I was reading throughout the various newssources. I stared until the reporters at the Clinton headquarters looked forlorn and shell shocked.
I stayed awake until Hillary conceded and Trump marched onto his platform.
Something broke inside of me. It was an audible click that echoed in my heart.
Texts poured in, saying no one could believe HE won.
In the next few hours, I learned that my work family had all voted for Trump or had chosen to not vote for a President at all. The clicking inside me turned up a bit more.
I had went to college in the St. Louis area. I moved to Chicago and then to LA, where I wrote for local free zines, interned for Instinct Magazine and worked day and night to chase a dream. When media began to shift and I was getting paid less and less to produce, I turned to my other love, hospitality. I made great money and had some memorable experiences working at Chateau Marmont, meeting artists and collaborating. I had made my own village, you might say.
After a week back from the election, that click kept beating at me, like a version of “The Tell-Tale Heart”. I was so upset. So disappointed. So terrified at what was going to happen over the next four years. No one got it. No one could make eye contact with me. They thought I was exaggerating.
I knew they were wrong.
I left West County and a stable, lucrative job. I am now involved with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and some exciting projects that will give back to the theater and arts communities. I'm writing again.
I'm still making cocktails, but damn are they complicated and expensive.
I'm learning about wine and planning podcast episodes. I'm conceptualizing a new life. All of this because of a click. I do not want to flee or bury my head in the sand. I am hell bent on surrounding myself with like-minded, diverse individuals.
The LBGTQ community worked hard to win President Obama's executive order to protect our rights as equal citizens. Perhaps before this election, we had seen a victory that was inevitable. We have won often. We thought it would be safe to take our shoes off
and rest a bit. But, as heard on an interview with Nicole Maines, a part of the HBO documentary The Trans List on NPR, our shoes maybe off, but it's time to strap on some work boots and come together.
It may seem like there is no room for us in this upcoming administration. We must all pull ourselves up, as Hillary has done for so long, and get out of our comfort zones. Money and security were my selfish comforts. But creativity, art and learning suddenly became more valuable to me after the click.
I beg you as a member of our diverse community to get out there to find your own click.
Change hearts and minds.
Do what you believe is best. Never let anyone or anything set you back.
We are a village. Let's act like one.