Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell: Raise hell in 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, y’all. Christmas is breathing down our necks, everything is covered in glitter and people are arguing about Starbucks cups. This is also a season of reflection as we prepare to enter a new year. This is the time when writers are supposed to write insightful articles that are supposed to inspire our readers to carpe diem in 2017. Last year, I summoned my inner Iyanla Vanzant and wrote one on this very page. There’s supposed to be some inspiring nugget of some sort but I want to be real with y’all: 2016 was a shit show.

Prince and several other icons have died, the Pulse shooting happened and now we’re stuck with Donald Trump as president. At the time of this writing, Trump’s victory is less than a month old but there has been an uptick in hate crimes. White supremacists are being normalized as the so-called dapper alt-right while Black Lives Matter is still being written off as thugs. We can’t even hope for Trump to lose his position because then we would be stuck with Mike Pence and that’s an even scarier prospect.

I want to be hopeful and desire the same for you, my dear readers, but we’re living in scary times. Still, I think we can get through it if we have a fighting spirit. Yes, the election was a huge blow to us but we don’t have to take anything lying down.

LGBTQ folks are a resilient people. We come from strong stock. We have survived decades of persecution and scored several victories. While I have been critical of the community, I can’t help but admire that when it comes down to it, we get stuff done. I refused to let the election of that little orange troll rain on my parade. If we’re stuck with him for four years, we need to give him and the Republican-infested Congress hell. If they try to pass some cockamamie law, we need to raise hell until they back off. Every time they turn around, we need to be all over them.

I know there are people that have suggested that we “wait and see” what he will do but the proof is in the pudding. Pence has a proven track record of being anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman. Trump had a pending sexual assault case throughout the election until the accuser dropped the case due to threats against her safety. I can’t afford to ‘wait and see.’ This world has seen many atrocities because people who had the ability to act decided to remain passive.

Despite what the right wing would like for us to believe, we have just as much stake in this country as they do. I was born here, I pay taxes and I voted in this freak show of an election. It was the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors that made this country great, not those imbeciles running around in those tacky baseball caps. If I see this country headed in the wrong direction, I have the right to speak out against it. The Constitution guarantees my free speech and right to protest and I plan to use it. This is my home despite the racist, homophobic, transphobic, classist and otherwise despicable behavior that occurs on its soil.

As James Baldwin eloquently stated, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Happy Holidays, family. We will make magic happen in 2017.