How Do We Begin to Heal? VOTE!

October should be a joyful time, as we celebrate National Coming Out Day and LGBTQ History Month. But despite these events, the month was clouded this year by hate-filled incidents that have troubled our souls.

Some might say that Donald Trump should not be blamed for a gunman’s attack on a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people, or a white man’s deadly shooting of two African American people at a Kroger store in Kentucky after he couldn’t enter a church whose members were mostly African Americans, or the 13 mail bombs that were sent to top Democratic figures and CNN by a Trump supporter. After all, they say, Trump didn’t order this violence.

But this president has incited hate at countless rallies and campaign stops. To say he has nothing to do with this climate of hatred in America would be naïve. Even when he’s out of office, the United States will have to deal with his followers who are ardently anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and more.

As we go to press, a group of desperate Central American people is walking thousands of miles to escape the violence and poverty of their countries in the hope of finding work and security in America. Trump is ordering military force to meet these people at the U.S. border, and we have no idea what might happen to them.

And a Trump administration memo was discovered by the New York Times in October that declared that all Americans should identify as only the sex of their birth. In other words, this policy would make transgender people a non-existent class. Samantha Ruggles offers some strategies on page 19 for fighting this forced invisibility in this issue of Camp.

A rally on Oct. 27 honored transgender people’s rights at Mill Creek Park on the Plaza. A strong group of supporters attended, and many transgender people spoke of their life experiences and proclaimed, to great applause, that they will not be erased.

On another more affirming note, the ashes of Matthew Shepard were interred in the National Cathedral in Washington in an Oct. 26 ceremony. Shepard, 21, was killed two decades ago in one of the country’s worst anti-gay hate crimes. Retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man elected an Episcopal bishop, helped lead the ceremony. “Gently rest in this place, you are safe now. Matthew, welcome home,” he said.

The Nov. 6 midterm elections are perhaps the most important elections in modern history. We must take back the House and maybe even the Senate from the people who have stirred up this hatred or who have been complicit in this lack of humanity. Many of you have already voted early in Kansas or absentee-voted in Missouri – thank you. But the rest of us must cast our votes and help others get to the polls.

I watched some TV pundit talk about non-voters whose reason for missing the election was that “Life got in the way that day.” What a lame excuse.

True, it would be easier for many to vote if we changed Election Days to the weekend, and it can be difficult to get to the polls when people have to work or take care of children or elders. But we all know it can be done. That’s why we have mail-in ballots, advance voting and absentee ballots.

Blatant examples of voter suppression have come to light recently, and groups like the ACLU have been fighting to keep this from happening. One example is in Dodge City, Kansas, which has only one voting place, now moved outside of town and away from bus routes. Sixty percent of Dodge City residents are Latinos. Since the controversy emerged, the city’s transit system, Democrats, and others have been offering free rides. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit to move the polling place back.

Whatever it takes, please vote on Nov. 6. Do not let life get in the way of your decision to vote, or someone else may try to make your life go the way they choose.