It’s always One Thing or Another … a lighthearted look at aging, life, and the absurdities of it all.
I’ve witnessed the end of a few years in my time, but seldom have I welcomed their passing as much as I welcome the final days of 2016. It has been both a year to remember and a year to forget, the way one allows painful memories to fade. While I wouldn’t trade the year for, say, a wrinkle in time that caused me to jump from 2015 to 2017, I can say without hesitation it’s been a year of cataclysm, change, overwhelming emotion, and degrees of stress I hope to never experience again.
I could write about job loss for the year, the death of one pet and health scare for another. I could write about getting shingles that still itch. I could write about an entire year consumed by political news that went from the entertaining to the grotesque, to the utterly heartbreaking. And that would be just the beginning.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned this year is knowing who will stand with me, and who will not. It isn’t just a matter of differing opinions anymore. With the incoming Trump administration comes a list of people set to take power who are consistently, if not universally, opposed to my equality. People who think “religious liberty”, defined as the right to be discriminatory and casually cruel, is somehow God-given, while my dignity and equal protection are perverse. People who put my marriage in quotes (imagine the reaction if we all started writing “Christian” … but the privileged are most often blissfully unaware of their advantages, and rarely willing to sacrifice them). People for whom tolerance means allowing others to live unharmed until their world view and power are threatened, in which case tolerance is withdrawn.
It’s a hard thing to realize, and a hard thing to write: that support I took for granted was never more than tissue-thin. And now that people like me and millions of others (Blacks, Muslims, trans people, non-white Christians) are fearing the worst under an autocrat and his courtiers, those whose support I thought was there remain silent. As if they are watching through the glass. They’re certainly not speaking, which leads me to the tragic conclusion that they never will. If my marriage is devalued in every legal way possible (up to and including nullification) they may shake their heads in sympathy but I now know they will do absolutely nothing to combat the injustice. Nothing.
It tells me more than I wanted to know, but much that I must. It tells me my acceptance for some was always an illusion, something I wanted to believe in because I wanted to think things had changed. But as I see hundreds of bills readied in state legislatures across the country with the explicit purpose of disenfranchising queer people, I see the writing that has always been on the wall but not always visible. Now it is.
We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re on our own, joined by millions of allies, certainly, but ultimately responsible for our own defense.
2016 has been difficult. I have no reason to think 2017 will be much better (mine is not among the 800 jobs Donald Trump claims to have saved in Indiana). Given the ascendance of people whose stated objectives are to destroy the government and agencies they are being entrusted to run, my expectations are grim. But we’ll soon have another January 1, another shot at another year. At the very least it will be interesting, and given the awfulness of much of this year, it can’t be worse … can it?
Mark McNease is the author of the bestselling Kyle Callahan Mysteries and the recently launched Detective Linda Mysteries, as well as the co-editor and publisher of the anthology Outer Voices Inner Lives (Lambda Literary Award finalist). He’s the editor and publisher of lgbtSr.org, “where age is embraced and life is celebrated,” as well as the co-host of The Twist Podcast and the co-creator of the Emmy and Telly winning children’s program Into the Outdoors.