As I walk around making niceties because I must, I am constantly looking for the next threat in my environment and trying not to let my poker face drop when I see it. That, unfortunately, has become part of my identity as a queer Latina woman.
My identity is constantly teetering on the edge of exile. Strangers have made me feel frail, even before politicians told me there wasn’t enough space for my sexuality, gender, skin color, thoughts. I am queer as a bisexual woman. Gay enough to be hated but not enough to take advantage of a community. I am Latina only in the eyes of the border patrol and strangers on the subway.
But I am completely, and fiercely, a woman. I am a woman who loves women, romantically and otherwise. I am a proud feminist.
I was excited to see a woman become president because I saw myself in Hillary Clinton. We had both been told we couldn’t do something because of how we were born.
I was once told, by the then-editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, that I shouldn’t report on sexual assault because I was a survivor. Women role models, like Clinton, led me by example, showing me I didn’t have to take another person’s ignorance as the law that guides my good work. Some of my best pieces have come out what I learned from denying my editor that right.
I wanted to believe that if I continued working with my eyes locked on my goals, I could achieve them.
Last night, I discovered America does not just hate women but that it particularly hates women who strive. As a woman who strives, that shook me.
It made me feel like I would break. It brought forward the frailty of my identity. It made me reconsider my worth as a human being.
But then, I woke.
I always wake. I woke after I was assaulted. I woke after my brothers and I were kicked out of a public pool as children by an old white man because we just weren’t the right color. I woke after a man on my subway assaulted two men for being “fags.” I woke with PTSD, I woke with depression. Heartbroken, wounded, swollen and bruised, I woke.
Even as a woman who strives, being a woman is always having to make men comfortable. I apologize and let them interrupt me. Occasionally, if time is permitted, I fight back. But the comfort of men has always been a priority for women. That is the default. That is my default, and I am tired. Even when I am awake, I am tired.
Perhaps it was us, women and women who strive, who elected Donald Trump. We let male comfort win.
I don’t notice that I’m a queer Latina when I wake up in the morning and get ready for my job. I don’t notice it for days. Sometimes for weeks. I surround myself with such incredible people that I don’t have to be constantly reminded that I am different. I don’t notice that I am hated. But last night, America reminded me that I am a dyke. This country reminded me that I’m a bitch. It reminded me that I’m a wetback.
Trump’s presidency is a result of us not really seeing each other or our country for who we are and what it is.
I fear I have gotten too settled in my privilege. It won’t happen again.
I fight for my mother and grandmother, who raised me with feminism in my blood and strength in my bones and say we will continue to strive. I fight for my friends, who insist we are nasty women who will only become nastier.
And I fight for Hillary Clinton, who, in her concession speech this morning reminded me that all girls and women are “valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
I fight because if I don’t, I could be dead before we reach gender parity in the Congress. I could be dead before we reach equal pay. I could be dead before I get on the subway and don’t worry about the man sitting next to me. I could be dead before I no longer have to send my friends my location every hour on a date, just in case I go missing.
We will continue fighting because there is no other option. I will no longer strive to help men feel comfortable. I will no longer feign niceties. I will live, fully and aggressively, in my identity and will not let this stop me from achieving my goals. I hope you will do the same. This block in the road cannot induce so much fear in us that women choose not to strive any longer. We can’t let it.
Christianna is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.