It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

11/10/16

It didn’t really start to feel real until Mike Pence took the stage. Even after watching state after state turn red, and seeing that all-important Electoral College vote counter go up, it didn’t become official to me until he appeared.

When he started to speak to the nation, for the first time as our Vice President-Elect, a dam broke in my head. Suddenly, the numbness I’d previously felt was destroyed, and replaced with a deep sadness, a sense of loss, and a visceral terror.

I clung to my partner, and began to sob as the Vice President-Elect began to speak. I couldn’t really hear his words over one particular feeling, one thought repeating over and over in my head as I looked at this man.

“He hates me.”

My partner’s grip grew tighter as my voice broke with the words.

mike-pence

photo by Gage Skidmore

As a bisexual individual, being faced with the reality that Mike Pence – one of the most passionately anti-LGBT politicians in recent history – will be Vice President was simply too much. Here is a man who opposed marriage equality, who passed a law in his home-state of Indiana that effectively allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals, who spoke against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”  and suggested that the government move funds away from HIV treatment and towards so-called “conversion therapy.” 

The fear only grew when our President-Elect approached the podium, as did the number of texts and phone calls I received.

The moment a Trump presidency became inevitable, my friends and family assembled, frantically calling each other to check in, to make sure everyone is okay, and to listen to each other’s concerns.

My queer friends and I talked about potentially losing our right to marry someone of our same sex. We talked about bullying, and how Trump’s harmful, hateful rhetoric could mean LGBT youth face a harder time at their schools. We talked about trans folks, and what this might mean for healthcare and for so-called “bathroom bills.”

Eventually my phone became too hot to hold in my hand. The sheer amount of calls, texts, Snapchats, Tweets, and Facebook notifications overwhelmed the poor thing.

Through it all, in every post, and in every conversation, there was one common emotion: Fear.

It’s not even just those in our bisexual community, or our larger LGBT community. People all over this country, and from all walks of life, are scared for a wide variety of very real, very legitimate reasons. Muslim Americans are scared. People of color are scared. Women are scared. Immigrants are scared. Those who rely on the Affordable Care Act to get life-saving medical care are scared. Survivors of sexual assault are scared. Citizens with disabilities are scared. It seems too many of us can find a reason to be scared right now.

So where do we go now? What’s our next move? How do we begin to process and push forward? I believe that the answer is to look inward, for each of us to identify what we ourselves need.

All over social media right now, there are people telling you to mobilize. They gave you a day to mourn, and now they want you to go out and change the world. Here’s the thing, though: I’m not ready to go out and change the world yet. I need more mourning time.

Things have been tough since Tuesday night. They have been draining. I have been forced to rethink a lot of things, and forced to accept a lot of things I never wanted to. So, yeah, I need a few days. Maybe even a week or two. And I think that’s okay, because it’s what I need.

Self-care is such an underrated thing in our society. We have a shared belief that taking time to think about your own needs is in some way selfish or narcissistic. It’s not. Self-care is vital, especially in times of crisis like this. So I would urge you to think about what you need right now. We’re all going to process differently. If you need to take action immediately, please do so. Join activist groups, volunteer, lobby, and protest (peacefully, of course).

But if you – like me – need to take some time, please know that it’s okay to do so. Take a day, a week, a month. Relax. Reevaluate. Rest up.

The harsh truth is that after Inauguration Day we will likely have a fight ahead of us, and there will come a time when we will all be asked to get up and stand together. We cannot lose the progress we’ve made in recent years, and we must push even further.

I believe wholeheartedly in our shared community as bisexual folks and as members of the larger LGBT umbrella. We are a strong, powerful group with a rich history of sparking much-needed change and creating great progress. We will fight for and alongside each other when the time comes.

But right now, it’s okay to mourn. It’s okay to not be okay.

Update 11/12/16

If you need to talk to someone, call:

The Trevor Project (LGBT Youth): 1-866-488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Mckenna Ferguson

McKenna Ferguson is a bi activist, writer, and Corgi enthusiast living in Los Angeles. Originally hailing from suburban Colorado, McKenna graduated from Colorado State University with a major in English and a minor in Media Studies. Her work focuses on such things as LGBT life, entertainment and pop culture, and intersectional feminism. You can follow her on Twitter @McKennaMagazine for ramblings on her daily life and whatever show she’s currently bingeing on Netflix.