Don't they know who we are? 

By Pablo Das

Yesterday Donald Trump joined, rather predictably, with the other republican presidents of my lifetime in using the queer community as a wedge for his own political gain. Just like Reagan who had a top down mandate in his administration not to address the AIDS crisis, or anything else concerning the wellbeing of gay people, for that matter.

I will forever resist any historical revision that frames Reagan as anything other than one of the cruelest men in American history...and not just to queer people. 

Just like Bush Jr, who used his state of the union address to propose a constitutional amendment (take that in) to insure that queer relationships would never be validated and protected by marriage equality. 

And who lied to the American people to propagate a war with Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of people. 

And now here we are again, back on that old chestnut of using the military (yawn!) to try to deny us our dignity and to destroy lives. Doesn't he know that we have been fighting that battle since Frank Kameny took on the military in 1958? Doesn't he know we win these battles over and over?

I guess he thought that if he singled out our trans friends that he could get away with it? Doesn't he know he's picking on the bravest most resilient people on the fucking planet? These people endure even when the L,G and B don't have their back. 

And dignity? Mine doesn't come from some association with or affirmation from the military. It comes from knowing the history of my people. Once you know who you are, nothing that they can throw at you can disrupt the sense of dignity one has when they discover the history that was erased. The history they didn't teach you. 

Let's get something "straight" about our history. If you want to understand bravery you need to look to queer people! We have always flourished in the face of great danger. Every one of us cooked in the fire of a rite of passage that requires us to dig down deep inside, find out who we are, stand in our truth and "come out" despite the danger to our bodies and psyches. We endure the losses. We create our own families when ours have rejected us and then somehow still create the most beautiful things on earth. Think Hockney. Think Ginsberg. Think Tchaikovsky! Think Sondheim. Don't they know who we are?

We are the ones who walked through our public schools alone being beat up, spit on and harassed and often with no allies, sometimes with the authority figures joining in! And fuck it! Many of us flourished anyway!

We are the ones who rose up against the armed insurgent police at the battles of Gene Compton's cafe, Coopers, the Black Cat and Stonewall. We are Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P and Alexei Romanov! 

We persevered against the threat of state mental hospitals where by the thousands, we were castrated, lobotomized and electro-shocked. Where we faced great state sanctioned cruelty. We came out anyway! 

We came out while they blackmailed us, published our names in the paper, evicted us and disowned us!

Don't they know who we are? 

We are the ones who walked through the war of the AIDS epidemic even as we were betrayed by our own governments and families. We stood among our dead. We stood up to the president. We stood up to the pharmaceutical industry. We took on Wall Street. We took on the church! And we got the life saving medications. Against all odds. No one did that for us! WE did that. We saved ourselves! We are Larry Kramer and Cleve Jones and Ken Jones and Cecilia Chung. 

You want to understand what bravery is? Look at the legacy of trans people. For whom any day can be a stroll through a virtual war zone which we call American society. Especially in the trump era. And yet, we as a people, continue to challenge gender norms and present ourselves any way we fucking feel like presenting ourselves! 

Donald Trump and now, Jeff Sessions with his claim that we are not worthy of protection as "homosexuals" (we know you chose that word carefully, to reduce us to sex acts!) are picking on people who thrived when we had nothing going for us. But guess what? Now, we have real power. We have the hearts of the majority of the American people, not given to us by politicians, but gained at great personal risk by our brave and resilient queer pioneers and in coalition with the other great movements for civil rights and our straight allies. We are not going to give an inch of it away. Not an inch.

In the name of Harvey Milk, Bayard Rustin, Harry Hay, Phylis Lyon, Del Martin, Christine Jorgensen, Larry Kramer, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, Luke Sissyfag, Allen Ginsberg, Frank Kameny, Barbara Giddings, Act-up, Queer Nation, the GAA, STAR, Lesbian Avengers, Stonewall, Compton's, Black Cat, the GLA. And in the name of the women's liberation movement, and the black civil rights movement, the anti war movement and the labor movement! In the name of the countless members of our community that didn't make it. Especially the kids. 

We will not stop fighting until we have achieved full equality and protection under the law for all people. ALL people! 

Thanks for listening.

Bye Felicia!

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