Tag Archives: Friends

How to Love Radically in the Era of Trump

6 Feb

radical-loveI have been struggling, along with 2/3 of the nation, since November. I have been fearful, hurt, and worried for ALL targeted communities. For those who insultingly made this about “Hillary lost, get over it,” you missed the point, quite sadly. This was about resisting a fascist regime, which we are now under, as evidenced by the over 20 Executive Orders delivered by Trump — as evidenced by the myriad lies spread by Trump and his team (please don’t make up attacks, Kellyanne).  This was about supporting a billionaire bully who makes fun of people with disabilities  and says it is acceptable to grab women by their genitals.

And so I struggle. I struggle with how to be loving to Trump supporters, some of whom are family members — family members who have decidedly voted against me, my family, my friends, and the earth. Yet I must maintain that we have to stay in community; we have to operate from our hearts first; we have to make space for those who are hurting us. I STRUGGLE!

I struggle every day to make this space for people who are deliberately oppressing so many. It is hard to love someone when they are punching you or shooting at you or sustaining systems of oppression. Moreover, I don’t want to become like those who are oppressing us! I think our individual and collective ability to RESIST with every fiber of our being and simultaneously love and make space for Trump supporters is Radical Love. I would love to take credit for this, but at least two of my friends for over 30 years, Jen, and DeShawn helped me here.

I feel obligated to share some survival tips and invite you to share how you are surviving a world gone mad.

  1. Take a break from news and social media.
  2. If you are able to, binge watch some tv that brings you joy. Here, I would strongly recommend the Netflix remake of One Day At A Time. My friend Gita recommended this to me, and Robert and I are loving it! It has a Latina cast and addresses social issues and is FUN! Rita Moreno is in it along with Justina Machado, and I think I am in love with Isabella Gómez. 
  3. With intentionality, seek out friends, family, and family of choice who feed your soul.

Finally, join me in a commitment to Radical Love! I commit to being in and operating from a place of love, while I know there are days I will fail at this. When I fail at this, I will not shame myself. I will continue to work towards building community, solidarity, and find ways to both resist this current fascist regime and love those who are engaged in supporting a world of fear, hate, and oppression. If this sounds or feels contradictory to you, all I can say is: I’m able to hold a lot of tension around being messy — this work we do towards social justice/transformative justice is MESSY! We don’t do this work in isolation and we will not complete it, but we must be engaged!

I invite you to share how you are navigating currently. What is working and what is not working?

Standing in love and solidarity,

Michael

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One of the Voices of Social Justice: Matthew Johnson

19 Jul

Allies

As the conversation around civil rights and marriage equality has become a very hot button topic during this Presidential election year, my friend Matthew asked if would I interview him for my blog.  Matthew and his wife are not just our neighbors, they have become our friends and family here in Portland.  One can catch us at their house with their kids or all of them at our house on our front porch.  I have to thank Matthew for speaking out and using his heterosexual privilege to help marginalized populations. This is the second interview in what I hope will be a year long series.

Where and how did you grow up?

I grew up in a little white yuppy bubble in Ohio—the conservative town of Chagrin Falls, a suburb of Cleveland. I found out in high school that our county had been gerrymandered around a black community and 95% of the high school graduates went on to college.  The gerrymandering made it impossible for black kids to attend my high school and none of us realized how privileged we were.  Coming out of high school was a shock to me because I met a huge group of people that were not like me: gay and lesbian, black people, people that were not from the same socioeconomic status.  Where I grew up, if you were gay, no one really dealt with the issue. One could never bring up the issue—it was a taboo issue, we would just say ‘he is just light in the loafers.’  It is not a bad place to grow up, but it is very sheltered and very privileged.

Matthew met his wife in Seattle and upon learning they were pregnant they decided to move to Portland to buy a house and raise their family; they currently have four children:

I was pleasantly surprised to found out how progressive Portland is and I was happy to find out that Multnomah County is the most secular county in the country. I did grow up going to church—a Christian church, but not evangelical—I still chafed under it. I chafed under it because my nature is to question and the Christian church is not set up for that—it is not set up for debate. [Currently, Matthew identifies as atheist.] This does not mean I hate Christians. I appreciate the comfort it gives them, I just don’t subscribe to it.

Do you consider you and your wife political?

We are political in that we vote and we vote at every opportunity. We don’t campaign or canvass but we don’t hold our political views to ourselves. My wife identifies as a Democrat and I identify as an Independent.  We both believe in civil rights and that no one should be able to deny others’ civil rights.

Why did you feel compelled to visit with me about Marriage Equality? 

I believe strongly in it.  I want to have some sort of an outlet as a person of privilege who does not need to address the issue, but I feel compelled to.  If I were a gay man and wanted to get married I would need to go out and approach legislators.  As a straight man I need to help and work to make a difference.  [Matthew is fully aware of the power of straight allies and the use of our collective voices.] The whole issues is insidious—the issue of marriage equality is not a threat to my heterosexual marriage, nor is it a threat to any heterosexual marriage.  I’m not putting anyone on a pedestal: I’m just saying that as a group (LGBTQ) should have the same rights that everyone else has—it is not a privilege it is a right!  For full disclosure, I have a lesbian sister.  She came out a decade ago and I was the last person she told.  When I asked her why I was the last person, she said “because I didn’t think it would be an issue with you.”  My parents were very accepting.

I know a bunch of heterosexual couples that do not want children, so does that mean their marriage is invalid? I have a real problem with the inequitable distribution of power—you can’t institute who someone falls in love with anymore than you can institute what color people are supposed to love.

Call to action for LGBTQ allies: 

Vote first of all—that is a big one.  Don’t be afraid of the issue and if it comes up be willing to speak your mind. People need to know that does not just concern the LGBTQ community—other people do care.  Don’t let people voice homophobic comments—gay jokes are not cool.  My kids will never make gay jokes!  Just as my wife was taught never to play the game “Smear the Queer.”  Her dad taught his children not to be homophobic.

Matthew and Erin, thank you for teaching your children not to be homophobic and for being wonderful friends and allies.

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