Change does not come from our president; it is within ourselves

Photo by Leah Willingham '17

Photo by Leah Willingham '17


It still remains fresh in my memory, reading a text message from my girlfriend on the night of the election: “babe, I’m not doing great.” The quiet despair of her message broke my heart. My girlfriend, living with a far different set of identities than I do, and me living with ones different from hers; somewhere along our respective planes of existence, our two lines met and became perpendicular. She writes to me “babe, I’m not doing great,” and I don’t know what to say to her other than to assure protection, boundless love, safety, care and compassion in all the ways we’ve shared it before. I tell her about all the things so beautiful, brilliant and courageous about her, while I’m thinking about all the things so incredible about American queer and trans resistance. 

The first thing my mind went to was “zapping,” a form of direct political action that proliferated through the 1970s gay liberation movements, and continued into the 80s and 90s when the AIDS crisis and Reaganite neglect pushed queer and trans bodies further into the margins. Zapping targeted public figures, politicians or celebrities as a way of bringing to the public eye the issues faced by LGBTQ people. Through sending postcards, invading office buildings, fact sheet distribution, sending onslaughts of faxes, picketing and sending outraged phone calls (just to start) were some of the zap actions taken throughout tumultuous times of anti-queer and anti-trans American sentiment. In many places, in many situations: from ABC studio cancelling a segment on gayness in America, to a local bar refusing to serve queer customers, public and direct political action has held strong in the tradition of anti-state, anti-establishment change for American queers and trans folks. Our strongest agent of change will not be a president who will suddenly empower us, it must come from within ourselves. 

At 2:30 a.m., my girlfriend and I tell each other goodnight, tell each other “I love you” and “see you in the morning.” I go to bed thinking about how grateful I am that by some stroke of luck, our lines crossed, and we found “us” right at the center. The president-elect will not get off easy. He will have generations upon generations of energized resistance go up against him, zapping and beyond. The lines that crossed to make this election come out as it did don’t have to stay that way. Lines can snap just like that if you break the rules.