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A Journey to Change


A “good” “Christian” yelled that at me at LA Pride in 2016. LA Pride that day kicked off eight hours removed from the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Words are wind, they come and they go. I couldn’t tell you one gust of wind I could say ever affected me, and that’s including all the years I lived in Chicago.

Unfortunately it’s not always words that get thrown. It’s rocks. Sometimes it’s fist. Sometimes it’s kicks. But as we learned yesterday morning with Empire’s Jussie Smollet leaving his Chicago apartment, it was a noose and it was bleach.

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Jussie Smollett at the 2017 BET Awards. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)


New York, Chicago, Los Angeles are supposed to be culturally accepting, you can live your truth openly, freely, and without fear of attack.

No. No you can’t.

Hate is nothing if not consistent. A state border won’t stop the malice of prejudice and it won’t prevent the violence that ignorance brings with it.

We live in a time where the most powerful leader on the planet believes Nazis are very fine people. The most powerful person believes that one’s ethnic origins make them less, and surrounds himself with devils whispering their beliefs in his ear that only reinforce his resolve. The media calls this “Trump’s base.” Donald Trump is not motivated by his base, he doesn’t care enough about anyone other than himself to give a damn about them. Trump is always motivated by his ego. It’s the voice that wakes him up every day, the voice that skews his perception of the world and places him on the highest of pedestal’s where he thinks his (perceived) sense of self importance is second to none.

That’s where his base comes in. His base buys into this, they feed it, their support is the fuel his ego needs to keep going. All they ask in return is that he support their beliefs that anyone that isn’t a white cis-gender heterosexual Christian male is less than and needs to be oppressed. This Faustian bargain has become the easiest deal Trump ever had to make.

Last year the FBI released data that shows an increase in attacks on LGBTQ+ people. Not only in the small rural towns of the South, where one might just assume they happen, but in the supposedly accepting bubbles of big cities where people believe they are safe. 

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You ever go hiking, and overturn a stone and you see a bunch of bugs scatter because the light hits them? That’s what Donald Trump did. He did not invent hate, he did not invent homophobia, he did not invent racism, but he moved the rock that brought so many of our country’s worst into a light but, in this case, they didn’t scatter back to darkness, Trump allowed the bigoted bugs of America to grow comfortable in the light.

Our country is infested, the infestation has always been there, hiding. If you don’t think that’s true, ask a person of color, ask an immigrant, ask a woman. When hate crimes happen, we need to go out of our way to assure justice is served for the victims, but the sad reality is that a lot of our country ignores them past the moment they read a headline, not even the whole article. The majority of this country feels like if this happens to a POC, a queer person, an immigrant, or another disenfranchised minority that it ultimately  doesn’t affect them cause it’s not THEIR community. They feel that that just reading the headline, not even the whole article, that they most likely will share, is them “doing their part” to combat hate.

Wake up call: IT’S FUCKING NOT!

Jussie is naturally getting a ton of press because he’s a celebrity. There’s power in that because we live in a celebrity culture where people will care about something more if a celebrity is involved. My hope is that this horrific attack can keep the conversation going. But if you’re gonna care about Jussie you need to care about Amia Tyrae Berryman, you need to care about James Craig Anderson, you need to care about Nabra Hassanen. We need to care about the names we don’t know. We need to do this because not every victim of a hate crime has the eyes of the world on them and don’t have millions of followers to speak for them when they can’t speak for themselves. Right now we are just running circles chasing our tails while our brothers, our sisters, our friends in between that don’t conform die.

Reading the news isn’t enough anymore. Sharing the news isn’t enough. The news is only the start, the action you take as a result is the journey, and change, real, impactful, LASTING change is the destination.

Written By

Sidney Stokes lives in an loft apt in the gayborhood of New Nerd City on the Planet Pop, but outside of his head…he lives in Los Angeles where his interests are as vast as and spread out as LALA Land.

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