A Note from Me.

     On election night, I sat alone in a chair against the wall at Javits Center in New York City, where Hillary Clinton was to have her election night rally.
     I was on the below ground level, by the concessions area, between the restroom and a row of escalators. I needed a break from the main floor, where thousands had gathered to celebrate the election of our first female president. I myself had waited seven hours outside to get inside the event. I had sat on the sidewalk, on an unseasonably warm and sunny November day, happy to wait for the celebration that I knew in my heart was bound to happen later that night.
     But once inside, and once the early returns came in from Michigan and Wisconsin, my nerves got the best of me. I needed a break. I needed a break from all the standing in the large New York City convention hall. I needed a break from the commentary of Wolf Blitzer that blasted overhead through the sound system. I needed a break from the gut feeling in my stomach of how the night was going to be.
     So I snaked my way through the crowd and down an escalator, I found a chair against the wall of the long corridor, and I sat. I rubbed my forehead softly in the palm of my left hand as I watched the people around me, some sitting in chairs next to me checking their phone for electoral college updates, others huddled in groups of three or four in front of one of the dozens of television screens that lined down the hallway.
     As more and more results came in, some people had clearly started drinking to deal with what they were seeing. Others still seemed hopeful that the rust belt would turn around. A few were crying. I started rubbing my forehead harder. I leaned my head hard into the palm of my hand and closed my eyes. My nerves were too much, I might have to leave. I just couldn’t bare the thought of what may happen.
     Then I heard a woman’s voice next to me. “Are you OK?” she asked. I looked to her. She was older, African American, dressed in a black jacket. Her hair had a beautiful light brown tone to it. She was a complete stranger but had a genuine concern in her voice. I looked to her and then back to one of the screens. Donald Trump had a fifty thousand vote lead in Michigan.
     “I just don’t understand,” I told her. “I really don’t.”
     She looked at me and shook her head. “I don’t understand either,” she softly said.
     Beyond not understanding how Donald Trump was leading, maybe the two of us didn’t understand what the results meant for us–American citizens, both people of color, her a woman, me someone who came to this country as a refugee and now lives proudly as an openly gay man.
     She comforted me some more and then got up and left. “Well, that’s about it,” she said. “I’m going home.”
     I decided to stay. I was going to stick it out.
     I went through the range of emotions over the next few hours as I tried to process everything that was happening. The political junky in me knew it wasn’t going to happen after seeing the trends in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The hopeful in me wanted to believe we still had a chance. When Virginia was called for Clinton I cheered along with everyone else. But by the time everyone was cheering for Washington state, I found myself angry. “Washington doesn’t matter,” I snarked aloud to no one in particular.
     Anger was a common emotion throughout the night. And trying to direct that anger was even stronger. James Comey. Political news commentators. People who did a protest vote. People who didn’t vote.
     But by the time 1 AM came around, I was just in shock. I didn’t feel any emotion. I had been on the verge of sobbing several times throughout the night, but the tears never happened.
     At this point many of the thousands of people that had come to the event left the Javits Center, and those of us who were earlier prevented from entering the main staging area were allowed up. So I ascended the small stair case that lead to a massive open space. I saw a beautiful empty stage, beautifully lit, under a beautiful glass ceiling.
     The idea of what could have been was too heartbreaking so I left. I couldn’t wait for Hillary Clinton to come out.
     I walked through midtown Manhattan in a daze at 2 am. On 34th street between Eighth and Ninth avenue, I saw a newspaper lying crumpled on the ground. Hillary Clinton’s smiling face was on the front. And my night was done.
     For the next two days, I lied on my friends couch in midtown Manhattan where I was staying. I couldn’t bare to follow any of the news coverage, I couldn’t bare to log in to Facebook where the rest of my friends who live in our liberal bubble of America expressed their disbelief. I just lied there, curled in a ball on the couch staring at the turquoise green wall of the living room paint. I listened to the tempered sound of the construction outside. I listened to the sirens, the car horns, on the street two stories below. From the living room window I could still see the diffused sunlight streaming in from a cloudy day. I could still see buildings standing tall as they had the days before. All evidence seemed to indicate that the world had not ended.
     It’s been a week since the election, and although I’m still heartbroken, I’ve adjusted to the reality of the world we now live in. If anything, I’m more motivated than ever to fight the good fight in all aspects of my life.
     There are a lot of unknowns after last week’s election, but I want to address something specifically regarding my identity as an LGBTQ American. For the past week I’ve received messages, texts, emails from friends simply saying, I’m with you. I have your back. I love you. Most of these friends are straight. The truth is LGBTQ Americans will always be a minority in this country, but as long as we continue to have the support of our friends, family, and loved ones, we’ll be a majority. And we’ll never allow one person or one administration to take away the rights we’ve all fought so hard to achieve. At least not without a fight.
     So grab a friend, and let’s continue the fight. As we all now know so clearly, the fight is no where close to being done. And really, it never was.

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

4 comments

  1. P Richard Melintz

    Well written. What is,Iguess is. The idea of enough “unfaithful electors” is nice — but it ain’t gonna happen. I guess we will survive. We always have. And, yes, regretfully,I guess we must be prepared to fight — harder. We will make it.

  2. Manel

    I don’t understand … a people who proudly elected Obama … I’m speechless and in a daze!!!
    I believe the fight will not be easy, but, I’m sure, worthwhile.
    I didn’t know I would live to see the day where a worthless, but dangerous being, would be enabled to such a place. All of a sudden this place became completely wrong.
    I’m so so sorry for all of us, Mankind
    Manel

  3. jem

    Ah, Kevin! I was crying with you even though I don’t live there. Your fight is my fight and I support you 100%. I am so grateful to you for this tremendous project – it would have been hard to go on without the comfort it has brought me. I look forward to more in the coming year as you get on track again. Wishing you all the very very best of everything in this holiday season and in the coming year.

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