We can’t throw anyone under the bus

Dear President Trump,

It’s been a tough week all around but there was a lovely glimmer of sanity yesterday morning at work. On my way down the hall to the restroom I walked by a Red Badge writing class for Veterans that meets every Thursday. They always meet with the door open so it’s possible to get a glimpse of them all and I’ve come to recognize the regulars, most of whom are late middle aged male Vets with canes or walkers. On my way back to my office one of the Vets said in a booming loud voice something to the effect of “I don’t understand why people get so hung up about gays and lesbians. Who people love is their business. It would be like me telling you that you have to like donuts when you really like muffins. It’s absurd.” I kept walking and didn’t hear how the rest of the folks in the room responded and I didn’t hear what, if anything, prompted his comment, but what a wonderful thing to overhear an old white male Veteran say in the middle of a VA hospital. It really gives me a lot of hope that there are big positive shifts happening that you and your ilk cannot stop or undo. I realize he is an N of 1 but I get to add him to the dozens of people I know who agree with him and I get to count the fact that he was comfortable enough in his convictions to say them matter-of-factly in a VA class setting where the door was wide open.

I had the clear impression that he sees himself as a straight person and as such, he almost certainly didn’t have to speak up on behalf of LGB people. If there was a homophobic comment or allusion, he could have just let it slide without any direct personal cost. But he stepped up to be part of the solution. Obviously this is analogous to men countering sexism and whites speaking out against racism and financially comfortable people dispelling stereotypes about poor people. I think you have helped a lot of us see that we can’t stay quiet and just expect each group to fend for itself. If the gays are under fire today, it could be the disabled Vets the next day and we can’t throw anyone under the bus. So for this, though nothing else, I thank you.

May we all be safe to speak up for ourselves.
May we all be happy to speak up for one another.
May we all be healthy enough to coexist.
May all our lives unfold and intersect peacefully.

Tracy Simpson

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