Our thoughts on the day after the 2016 Presidential election


Shocked, devastated, heartbroken, angry, sad, discouraged, exhausted.

This just can’t be our country. How can we live here now? Where can we go? Should we leave our country or stay?

The feelings and questions flowed with the tears. Despair. Difficulty focusing. It feels like the sudden loss of a loved one.

How can we go on?

But then we think about the bigger picture.  We cannot yield to the forces of anger, bitterness, vengeance and vile language used by Trump and his supporters. Denial won’t work long term. The blame game won’t change the results.

We need to find support and strength to survive the next days, months and years.  It is fitting that the slogans of the Clinton campaign should become our mantra. Yes, we are “Stronger Together” and yes,  “Love Trumps Hate.”

Tuesday night as the results confirmed the awful reality that we lost, Vivienne and I remembered how we felt in 1980 when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter. We successfully stayed in relative denial until the night before his Inauguration.  It was Monday, Jan. 19, 1981, and we both had the flu.

Reagan family friend Frank Sinatra had organized a pre-inaugural show for the First Couple. We watched it, lying on the couch, while sobbing and passing a tissue box and a pan of brownies back and forth to each other.

Our actions sound comical now, but the LGBT rights movement was a far “younger” movement then and few legal rights had been won. We were just organizing politically and wondered what the setback would mean.

Worse yet, almost half of the DFW LGBT community had voted for Reagan. We were not politically unified, nor had we become an integral part of the Democratic Party because they were still cautiously considering us.
We will survive Trump because of the progress towards equality we have made since 1981. Because of 35 years of hard work, we are not starting from the same position.

The Supreme Court impact is the worst of course. We’re still trying to get our heads around that one.

Perhaps this quote might be helpful: The French philosopher Albert Camus wrote, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

We need to reach out, comfort and support each other. Then we must become more involved, ensure that those people attacked and disparaged during the Trump campaign are protected and the rights and welfare of all are secured.

Finally, we need to change our country at a very basic level. We can do this in our personal lives. We all need to see the common humanity in others, and just share and practice our basic values of goodness.

If we need to demonstrate or to march, we will march.

We can learn from our DFW LGBT community’s rich history and ensure the lessons we learned are not lost to the next generation.

So, let it be of some comfort: We survived Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes and now we’ll survive Trump.
Vivienne Armstrong and Louise Young have been a couple since they met at Colorado University — Boulder in 1971 and have devoted their entire adult lives to LGBT activism, including playing roles in the founding of North Texas’ premiere LGBT organizations. Louise Young also played a key role in the formation of the LGBT employee resource group at Texas Instruments, and later at Raytheon.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2016.