You Don’t Have to ‘Be Nice’ No Matter What Happens

There’s a reason you wince at posts that try to tie up this election with a neat little bow

Photo: Jacqueline Anders/Getty Images

On social media, I’ve been seeing posts saying that we should be kind to each other because no matter who wins, “we are all still neighbors.”

While these types of messages might seem fairly uncontroversial and even welcomed in a volatile political climate, please remember that for marginalized folks, it’s not that easy.

For me, as an openly queer woman, this election is not simply about preferring a candidate or political party. This election is about my right to work without harassment, to have my marriage legally recognized, and to exist in a world that feels safe. While some friends might be able to smile at their neighbors and “just be nice,” my wife and I are currently trying to get our legal documents in order so that we can make decisions for one another in the event of a medical emergency. And as a white, cisgender person, my worries pale in comparison to the struggles faced by trans folks in my community, as well as the struggles of BIPOC, people whose lives are impacted daily by white supremacy.

If Donald Trump wins, we won’t be waving at his supporters and looking for good ol’ neighborly behavior: We’ll be trying to stay alive in the midst of an inhospitable and hateful world brought on by a president voted into office by people we work and live near every day.

I’m certainly not advocating for unkind acts or saying that the results of this election are an excuse for bad behavior. What I am saying is that if you’ve posted one of those cheerful memes, consider that it is an extreme privilege to be so naively optimistic. Don’t begrudge your friends who are part of marginalized communities for their very justified, well-placed anger.

Better yet, consider using your privilege for good, to make the world safer for everyone. Glossing over our fear with glib messages only bypasses the painful reality many of us must live in far beyond election season.

Queer writer (@mcsweeneys @HuffPo & elsewhere). Stand-up comedian. Half of Hot Gay News podcast. She/her.

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