A few weeks ago, the day that Donald Trump tweeted out his ban on transgender people in the military, I was in San Francisco late into the night. I had seen a screening of “Falsettos,” which depicts one character contracting HIV at the very beginning of the AIDS crisis. No one knew anything about the disease, yet, but just the same the situation was dire.
I exited the theater, leaving behind the battle of our previous generations to face the battle of today, having to reconcile with the fact that the war was never really over. As we left the theater and headed to the BART station, we passed city hall to find it lit with the baby blues and pinks of the trans flag, cloaked in a thin layer of fog.
Yes, I know that city hall is still ultimately an extension of a government with a long history of oppressive behavior. But still, someone had the idea to light the building up with the colors of the trans flag, to exist within the system and insist on being seen. It felt like an assertion that “we’re still here, and we’re a part of this society, too.”
I think that’s what this column has been for me: my assertion that I’m still here. I’m from the South and I was raised a Christian, but I’m also a denizen of the Bay Area. And I will definitely always be a massive homosexual.
I may still react viscerally to a lot of the theology I was exposed to growing up. I may still feel angry knowing the opinion many people hold of my current lifestyle. But I can still engage with some aspect of my beliefs on my own terms, and that’s a sort of victory I think. I may not juggle all my conflicting identities well, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying. I sure as hell won’t stop subjecting everyone to my written opinion as I do so.
To be perfectly honest with y’all, now that we’re here at the end of all things (in other words, my column), I don’t know what I believe. I don’t know what religion I consider myself a part of. I believe in God, sure, but I couldn’t tell you what kind of God I believe in or really much else.
So I believe in God, and I know I’m a lesbian. Unsurprisingly, though, those two things don’t easily reconcile. It’s hard to remember the person I used to be and confront the kinds of (very problematic) things I used to believe with my whole heart.
It feels especially trivial, to talk about my feelings, what with the impending threat of the nuclear apocalypse and all — but that’s really been the theme of this year, hasn’t it? Small, important personal developments overshadowed by existential despair.
If you’re anything like me, you probably spend most of your time cracking jokes and sharing memes in order to hide that #suffering. I know I’ve spent an alarmingly large chunk of my summer just retweeting one gallows humor joke after the next.
But as I wrote this last piece, I thought about all the people I love and how they’ve been dealing with this. Many of them are at even more of a risk than I am. But we all share this overwhelming sense of helplessness.
And I guess that’s what it’s all coming down to, or at least it’s what I’m holding on to in order to survive. The world sucks, but that’s still okay. We could all be dead tomorrow. My column probably won’t change church policy, no matter how much I wish it would. The harmful things I was taught will continue to be taught to vulnerable kids. The people in leadership will hold their positions. My stomach will still drop when I hear old songs. And I’ll have to figure out how to live with all of that.
Nuclear missiles may drop from the sky in a couple of days, but I got to make cookies and watch vine compilations with someone I love and send memes to my friends. Somewhere, some kid is realizing for the first time they might be gay, and yeah, there’s a lot of pain and tears coming because of that. But there’s so much beauty and love, too.
I walked out of that musical, aware of the sacrifices and fear that came before me, firm in the knowledge that I’ll no doubt face similar heartaches and trials, but I’ll love and be loved in the midst of it.
And, yeah, maybe that’s all we get, but maybe that’s enough.
Danielle writes the Thursday column on finding your home. Contact her at [email protected].