Friday, November 11, 2016

Shoes & Safety-Pins: Unexpected Symbols of Freedom

Sometimes a shoe is more than a shoe. 

Sometimes it's a piece of art that you wear for its beauty. But sometimes it’s a symbol you wear in defiance of all the prejudice, fear, and hate that is around you.

Sometimes a man needs to face himself in the mirror and apply a swipe of mascara, maybe a bit of eye shadow or eye liner, or both, then put on his heels and confidently (Oh how I've had to muster every ounce of courage to appear confident in the days since) walk out of the apartment.

In a country that has proven itself to be at least half (considering the voters in the recent election) full of racists, sexists, and phobes of some sort, it takes a lot for someone like me (a person who deviates from society’s idea of normal) to hold his head up and Just Be.

I am not alone in my fears. I am not alone in my devastation. I am not alone in my courage.  And I am thankfully no longer feeling alone in my sadness. I have friends who can help me be strong and who I hope I help be strong. Now more than ever I feel like we have to be there for each other. We have to support each other. We have to find support if we don’t have it. We have to help others who are hurting—friends and strangers alike. 

Yesterday, as I began to see images of vandalism; to read tweets and status updates of racism and homophobia—at a reprehensible low—I took a moment to breathe down the nausea. Then I took a moment to feel grateful that I live in progressive and generally accepting New York City and had not directly experienced that hate. Then I got angry.

Our President-elect incited this madding crowd during his entire campaign. He unearthed them; brought them into the light. His inability to hold his tongue and be diplomatic (EVER!) has given many of his supporters a sense of empowerment to now say and do whatever they want to anyone.

I want to do more than use my words. I’m stirred to act up; fight back. I want to get my hands dirty and help. I’ve donated to The Trevor Project and Planned Parenthood. That is not enough but it’s a start.

Our President-elect doesn’t have the backs of most of the people that he is set to starting leading in January 2017. It doesn’t seem as if he will surround himself with advisors that will have our backs either.

There are many of us that are angry. Many of us that are scared. Many of us that are grieving. Many of us trying to find a safe place to land.

There’s a new symbol that is being warn to show solidarity. It’s a simple safety pin. You’ve probably got several in the bottom of a drawer where you live. It’s in the name already—safety. It’s a symbol of support: an identifier marking an ally; a safe place for all of us humans who are targets of the Make America Great Again constituency to feel supported, respected, equal.

So as I enter the Third Morning After I’m reminded of a few lyrics from that good ol’ show tune, “A Little More Mascara” from La Cage Aux Folles: “When life is a real bitch again and my old sense of humor has up and gone…I put a little more mascara on.” To this I will add a fabulous pair of shoes and a safety pin.

I will be myself and be a safe place. I will support you and ask for your support in return. I ask that you help me stay strong and courageous and I in turn will help you.

Sometimes a shoe is more than a shoe. And sometimes a safety pin is more than a pin.