I’m a millennial gay liberal drag queen immigrant, and a proud member of the much hated ‘snowflake’ generation that the conservative right love to belittle. Most of those within similar circles to me are very quick and happy to label Trump, his followers, and all conservative individuals in general as the enemy – a group of people without morals or humanity.
But I’ve lived with them – and this last month specifically I spent several weeks with some of the most lovely people I’ve ever met. The only thing is, they’re pro-life Trump voting gay hating Republicans. Or at least I imagine they’re not approving of ‘the gay lifestyle’ but they certainly didn’t bring such matters up with me. The fact that I have to even infer whether or not they approve of who I am as an individual can be seen as a negative, or it can be seen as a beautiful elision of identity and party politics where two individuals stop being defined by their labels and are suddenly defined, rather, by their humanity.
Now I often hear the argument that, ‘I’m not going to care about people who don’t care about others’ – a somewhat ironic statement. Republicans are infamous, it’s true, for the ‘everyone for himself’ philosophies that promote some forms of life but not others, and there was a time when I too felt that anyone associated with a man like Trump was my biggest enemy. When I wrote my popular article for the Tab I said that ‘Anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary (in the 2016 election) doesn’t want me to return home to America.’ But since this time I’ve come to understand that not everyone who voted for Trump approves of who he is as a person or his policies. And as hard as it is for me to understand, many saw their vote for Trump as a vote to save lives rather than destroy them.
It’s always hard to understand the viewpoint and perspective of people opposed to you, especially when your identity and well-being are on the line, held in the hands of voters who disagree with you. But when we stop seeking to understand those who disagree with us, we stop seeing our opponents as human. They become just ‘opponents.’ ‘Brainwashed sheep.’ ‘Monsters,’ even. And that’s where the gap between Democrat and Republican, liberal and Conservative, grows deeper and wider by the day.
A respected journalist once told me that, ‘Bradley, for the rest of your life, you’re going to carry with you an audience who follow you just because they hate you and disagree with you.’ I think in today’s world, we love having people to hate and disagree with. It gives us purpose. Something to fight. But you can have something to fight without someone to fight. There are ways to advocate for your beliefs and agendas without attacking the humanity of those out there just as convicted as you with their own beliefs and agendas.
We are all fundamentally human. We want to live and love. And I’m not saying that everyone deserves your kindness and understanding, because there are certainly some people, like Trump himself, who in my opinion do not – and there are others in the world which truly are monsters. But to automatically isolate everyone who disagrees with you from your life, you are simply contributing to the endless division of identity and belief that wracks our world. Bubbles of people who exclusively agree with everything you say and believe can feel good, but it can also be dangerous.
I hate everything about Trump and his policies. But I love a heck of a lot of people who voted for him. And that will never change. So I encourage everyone to see beyond party politics and always try to understand the perspectives of those who disagree with you, no matter how challenging it can be. I’m not saying people were justified in voting for Trump, but I am saying that their humanity and whether they’re deserving of respect isn’t over ridden by their political beliefs.
And I know that we need to maintain our mental health, and there are some who truly do wish to destroy others, especially those of us in minority sexualities, genders, and races. But I want to end by reiterating the title of this post – I love my Trump-voting republicans. And love is, truly, what this world needs more of right now. Thank you for reading!