This week I decided that I need to break up with the guy who has been cutting my hair for the past 3 years. He is more than just a service provider to me. During that time, he has become a friend and confidant. However, after he shared that he was going into business with a man who had voted for Trump, I realized that our relationship was over. I spent the ride home feeling queasy and uncomfortable and that feeling has stayed with me. Ultimately leading me to share my thoughts on the matter.
This friend is a young (25ish) white, gay man from the Portland area. He has been fortunate enough to grow up in a city that not only celebrates its LGBTQ population, but has now elected both a LGBTQ mayor and governor in races where their sexual orientation were non-issues. He is too young to know about the AIDS crisis and is naive to the homophobia that remains a serious issue in this country and the world at large.
When he mentioned that his new business partner had voted for Trump, he added that he completely understood that decision because he is a very wealthy man. He seemed oblivious to the hatred and venom that was an integral part of Trump’s campaign. The same hatred that Trump continues to endorse when selecting his closest advisors and cabinet members.
He is either unaware or unconcerned that his ability to marry is being threatened. Or that fellow LGBTQ people are feeling threatened and/or suicidal as calls to the Trevor Project have increased to numbers last seen after the horrors of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
While he was washing my hair, he asked why I was wearing a safety pin on my shirt. When I explained that it was to demonstrate my solidarity and willingness to step in and support those who are feeling threatened because of their race, gender, color sexual orientation, immigration status or religion, he was touched, but clearly did not see himself as a member of those communities most at risk.
But why should he? The world is a very different place than the one I grew up in. There have been great strides made in LGBTQ rights over the past decade and that is the only world he knows. Over the years, I have tried to explain how much things have changed and how important it is that we never go back to the dark ages where discrimination was the norm. Where men like Matthew Shepard could be tortured and beaten simply for the fact that they were born gay.
Although I understand how my friend’s decision to disregard his business partner’s vote comes from a place of naiveté, that doesn’t sway my decision. I don’t require that my friends agree with me on everything that I believe nor do they require that of me. But there are some lines that I am not willing to cross. The biggest one being an endorsement, whether implicit or explicit, of hatred for others.