From hope to hate

by Kira Wertz
Community Issues Columnist

I remember the build-up to Obama's first election. My wife and I were both extremely excited about the possibilities for our country under his direction. After all these years of career politicians, it was nice to have a relative newcomer making a move on such a high office, but to us, that wasn't the only thing that mattered.

I'm not going to sugar coat this; the fact that he wasn't white meant a lot to me personally. It meant he knew what it was all about to grow up in a privileged nation as an underprivileged individual. I was still nine years from coming out as transgender, but I always knew I would eventually fall into this category.

I was already married to a woman at this point. She is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant. So collectively we were rooting for a candidate that would champion the voices that more often go unheard, and that's precisely what we got.

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To be honest, this was the first time in my whole life I gave a damn about politics. We've got 9/11 and eight years of George W. Bush to thank for that motivation. What I was unprepared for was the resistance. Even before Obama won, our cars were both vandalized because of our pro-‘Bama bumper stickers.

More disgusting was the message the vandal left in permanent ink on my wife's car which was intended to mock Obama's platform of CHANGE. It spelled "Come Help A N(word) Get Elected."

We removed the graffiti, replaced the stickers and trained a camera on the cars on the off chance they'd dare to try this again. But why did this have to happen?

I know that politics can be polarizing, but my ego is not so fragile that I would damage property of those on opposing political sides. Thankfully this hate didn't prevent Obama's victory and subsequent second term. Unfortunately, despite a Dow index that tripled, healthcare that expanded and wars that were retracted, he was lambasted as a colossal failure.

Those who tout this failure as fact are now the same people who praise a wealthy white man who hasn't passed much if any legislation; instead, ramming it down our nation's throat by way of executive order. The irony was that people criticized Obama for utilizing such orders when legislative means were attempted but found to be impossible due to partisan issues.

The current president foregoes legislative and judicial branches in a purely dictatorial fashion and seemingly gets praised for it. But when this happens, the people standing behind him aren't black, Latino, Muslim, or LGBT+. No, they're white "Christians."

So, what am I driving at? When we elected Obama, we elected hope. And a lot of great things did happen during his administration. Those eight years allowed all these racial tensions to fester and boil. What we got in return was the polar opposite. We went from hope to hate.

This political pendulum scares the shit out of me. With the anti-LGBT+ rhetoric that is being pushed by diehard conservatives and some amazing progress from community politicians (especially trans politicians) this past November, I must frame these successes against the Obama-Trump analogy. Will the next election cycle be wall-to-wall bigots?

If you have ever even remotely entertained the notion of running for office, I beg you to give it more consideration. We need all our LGBT+ community and allies to continue to be present in politics. It will drive home the point that we matter, deserve equal rights and we will not be steamrolled by those unwilling to look beyond their race, religion or righteous indignation.

The Gayly 1/6/2018 @ 8:00 a.m. CST