An Ode to The Survivors

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In light of recent political events, there have been a lot of posts and articles going up about how to get involved and change things. Posts about volunteering and voting and getting involved in local chapters of national movements. Posts about the best ways to use time, energy, money, and skills. Posts about how to take care of marginalized minorities and protect them. These are all excellent things. We need to do these things. We need to protect other people, make a plan for the future, and try to change things for the better and those who can do all those things (or just some) ought to. I’m not here to talk to those people. I’m here to talk to the survivors.

I’m here to say that not everyone can do those things and that’s okay. Some of us have disabilities or chronic illnesses that make difficult to impossible to leave the house. Some of us have mental health concerns like depression or anxiety, ADHD or other executive dysfunctions, low energy, etc. The list goes on. Not everyone can do 10 new things. Not everyone can help every at risk minority or important cause. We all have limited resources, but some of us are more limited than others.

I’m here to say it’s okay. If you can only add one new thing? Good for you. Do that thing. If you can’t add anything? That’s okay, too. If ‘all’ you can do is take care of yourself (and sometimes even that is difficult, let’s be honest), do that. Don’t feel pressured to add stress or anxiety to your life. Focus on taking care of yourself. That’s valuable in and of itself. I value that choice, I value you.

Survive. Live.

Don’t let anyone shame you into doing more than you can. I’m one of those people who can’t physically or mentally add many new things into my life, and I know there people with fewer resources than I have. I want to say to those people that I love you and support you for being you. You may not be able to join the causes, but surviving is a victory all it’s own. Or, put it this way, your cause is you and your own survival. That’s a cause I believe in, because I believe in you.

When the world gets darker and life is more oppressive. When it feels dangerous and threatening to exist in the world. When it feels like a fresh new wave of hate will be spewed at you when you leave the house. When you’re afraid you won’t be able to afford your meds or therapy, or food or school or any of the other things you need in your life. Keep living. Keep hoping. Keep surviving. Let those with the energy to take on all the things do so. You don’t need to do anything more. You know your limits, whatever they are. Having big limits is fine. Having small limits is fine. Having limits is fine.

Survive. Live. Stay safe.

For those of you who have the fire but are afraid of backlash, that’s okay too. Your safety matters more than anything. Those of use who have more privilege to be visible—whether it be because of skin color, physical ability, or having a less stigmatized sexual orientation or gender presentation—we can stand up and maintain that safe space for others as much as we can. We can keep the conversation visible and accessible to others. We can keep telling our stories and the stories of others, we can keep making our voices loud and clear, and that’s something everyone can do, whether you have more or less privilege as a minority. Keep talking, keep fighting, keep surviving. Even if it is out of spite.

Yes it feels and is more dangerous now. Yes Trump’s election has legitimized the bigotry, or at least made it more socially acceptable to be openly bigoted. These are true things. Some people need to be safe, and if that’s what you can do right no, DO IT. Don’t be ashamed of staying safe, taking care of yourself, and surviving. But those of us who can be more open? We need to do that. We need to keep talking.

Survive. Live. Stay Safe. Never Give Up.

Representation matters now more than ever. Happy endings and hopeful stories for minorities matter more than ever. There are many ways to fight hatred, fear, and marginalization. One way (the way that makes sense for my skills, energy, and circumstances) is to normalize minority experience and that means continuing to tell the stories of marginalized communities. Make it so that in the face of hate, no one can depersonalize or distance themselves from our pain, our fear, our love, our joy, and our humanity. You do what you can and need to do, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

For me? I don’t have the energy to do all the things. I’m one of the ones who can only add one thing to my life right now and stay in control. That’s reality. So what am I going to do? I’m going to shout my story and the story of my loved ones in minority communities in the face the hatred so that no one can ignore me. I’m going to force people to see us as humans and do it until the bitter end. This is my battle and it’s just as valid a one as getting involved in politics. We all do what we can to fight the hate. Because I believe telling our stories matters as much as volunteering or being involved in politics or policy change or donating money.

They might try to force us back into the shadows, but I, for one, am sure as fuck not going gentle into that good night. I’m going to tell our stories with every breath I take.

And to those of you who can’t. I’m here for you. I’ll tell your story for you, if you can’t yourself. And I will love you and care about you and defend your right to take care of yourself. Survive, my lovelies. Survival is a victory. Survival is part of the fight. If that is all you can do right now, you are valid. Let other people take care of their causes and fights. You? Just keep on surviving.