By Michael Kimmel
Recently, speaking here in Southern California, former President Obama said, “This is a moment of great urgency. You are right to be concerned. The progress we have made is not a given.”
These are scary times. As a psychotherapist, I keep waiting for the anxiety to end. And, it doesn’t. The Trump administration keeps attacking the fundamental rights of LGBTQ’ers, women, people of color, immigrants, poor people … anyone who’s not a straight, cis, rich white dude.
And even a lot of rich white dudes are worried.
I turned 65 on June 29. I remember the horrors of Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes, as well as the Kennedy, Clinton, Carter and Obama years. I can honestly say, as a psychotherapist, that we’ve never seen a more psychologically disturbed president than Mr. Trump.
I met him — briefly — in the early 1980s at a fancy New York City dinner party when I was dating this tall, handsome southern guy (“Dale”) who worked for Andy Warhol at Interview magazine.
Dale and I were introduced to Mr. Trump at this elegant dinner party: Dale was there representing Andy Warhol and Interview. I was his date. Mr. Trump was rude, crude and socially unacceptable even back then. Our hostess called him, after he and then-wife Ivanka departed, “a short-fingered vulgarian” and we all laughed, thinking that this crude, grotesque fool would never amount to much.
Oh, we were so wrong. Somehow the psychopath/fool got to be president.
Looking back, I think we were lulled into some sort of complacency during Mr. Obama’s presidency. It still feels like a nightmare that Hillary lost. Nevertheless, here we are in July 2018 and Trump will be appointing yet another Supreme Court justice. Lately, in my dreams, I find myself crying, “Oh, Justice Kennedy, couldn’t you have waited until after the midterms?”
So, as LGBTQ people, what do we do now? Let’s take our advice from Mr. Obama: “Do not wait for the perfect message. Don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine, because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving.”
It’s time to become the heroes we’ve been waiting for. It’s time to act, and to act responsibly, wisely and strategically.
At this point in time, the rights of our community — and those of all other “minority” communities — are threatened on a daily basis, from the Supreme Court to Congress to the executive branch of our government.
It’s time for us to act. And vote. And make sure that everyone we know votes: our neighbors, co-workers, people at the gym, people at the bars/cafes/restaurants we patronize. Encourage everyone you know to vote. If we can re-take the Senate and House of Representatives, we can counter the idiocy of Trump.
Please take action by giving time and money to causes you believe in. Money helps get the right people elected and time spent advocating for what’s right is always productive.
And, above all, keep the faith! Don’t give up. Trump and his minions are hoping we give into the chaos his administration is sowing, distracting us from the real, long-term harm his administration’s policies are generating.
We can counter those destructive ideas by doing the right thing on a daily basis. As individuals, we can perpetuate respect and honor, kindness and consideration. Trump is trying to erode our sense of decency and respect for others. Don’t fall for it!
Psychologically, Trump is trying to get us so confused that we just give up and surrender.
Don’t go there! Trump is only temporary. He will pass. But, while he’s here, let’s be vigilant, strong and consistent. Let’s keep doing what we know is right: treating others with respect, helping those who need help and advocating for what is good for ALL humankind, not just a wealthy few.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but, in reality, this isn’t a particularly happy Pride. It is, however, a most important one. It’s a time of great urgency. In such times, we need to be clear on what we want, now more than ever. Speak up. Take action. Act strategically. Let’s minimize the damage until this, too, has passed.
And, believe me, it will…
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.