I’m Still Proud

I’m still proud.

…Of being a Democrat. Because we try to put in place policies that protect and assist the poor, the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the needy…people who are less-than by no fault of their own. I’m proud of being a Democrat because we don’t expect everyone has the ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps but we do want everyone to flourish as best they can with the same or similar opportunities. I’m proud because we reach across the aisle even when our hands are slapped over and over, we accept defeat graciously and we continue our work even if we can’t have the title ‘President’ or ‘Senator’ on our lapel pins.

…Of being an Episcopalian. ¬†Because we live the Gospel as well as we can, and by our interpretation that is evenly boiled down to loving all our neighbors (even those we don’t agree with). Because we try to find humanity in even the darkest places. Because after this election, in the face of so many who are afraid for their lives, their healthcare, their citizenship, and more, we will continue to work for justice and peace in tangible ways. Our work will only grow to include more people who are hungry for a safe place where they can live without fear. Our soup kitchens will grow with our clothes closets, and our work will be needed farther away from our church doors than ever – Jesus would have wanted us to spread love in every crevice where there is fear or darkness. And I am proud that Episcopalians will not turn people away.

…To have grown up as a woman, knowing what it’s like to be marginalized simply for my genitalia, and understanding deeply what it means for some to have power over the majority. I’m glad to have grown up understanding that my power can’t be taken away if I’m backed by community of support and strength, if I ask the right questions and challenge the degradation, if I get involved in leadership roles early on. I’m painfully aware of my privilege, having been supported my whole life to be and do whatever I feel called to do. I’m grateful I’m aware of this privilege and the fact that I have much to learn from women who have not had the opportunities I have had. I’m also glad to be a survivor of domestic violence. I know what it is like to be a woman and for my ability to use my story to educate those who don’t know.

…To claim the label “queer,” for myself and for others who aren’t able to because of stigma, fear, or extreme danger to their lives. I am proud to be part of one of the most inclusive groups of people I have ever experienced: as queer people we largely define our own identities as we feel them and expect to be accepted as we are day by day. To many it is confusing, but this fluidity is exactly what gives me strength in the reality that my identity is mine and only mine and cannot be defined by others’ standards, as hard as their fear leads them to create ignorant policies and laws and tight boxes.

…Of the fact that I am disabled. I am proud that nothing will stop me from speaking out for my sisters and brothers who face similar uphill climbs to have access to sufficient healthcare, treatment, food and shelter. My heart is achingly aware that my chances at having a self-sufficient, independent life are slim to none now, but I will never stop fighting for humane policies to aid people who are permanently ill or disabled. I maintain my belief that the Affordable Care Act should remain and have a dedicated healthcare-proficient team work to make improvements specifically to help those who need the most and greatest care: people with chronic diseases.

…Of my college degree, and in my competency to navigate system structures and resources available. Though I am disheartened over and over by how confusing the system is, even for me, I am aware of my privilege of having received a thorough education. I am further fortunate to have been encouraged from a young age to be independent and to “figure things out” for myself. Though increased loopholes, walls, and denials are impending, I will continue to use my education to speak out against unfair policies that block access to needed care and resources.

I am poor, and paired with my disability, I cannot work. I face an uncertain future that, at worst, means homelessness, and at best means living in extreme poverty with multiple roommates. My non-income and disability places me in one of the most vulnerable groups impacted by the upcoming future of this country. I am terrified, but I will not allow my voice to be silenced.

I will not let go of these identities. They will always be part of me. And I will never give up.

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