I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.
Last year Daniel and I gave a lot of thought into how we can do some good in the world with our charitable donations. We found some great local and national organizations that we really believed were making an impact in the world by supporting women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+, youth, and other minorities. This year we are excited to support those same organizations again.
Sometimes, however, it’s not enough to just Do Good, you have to also Fight Bad.
Accordingly, next year in addition to supporting local and national organizations at the same financial level we have been, we are giving an equal amount of money to local and national political campaigns.
This isn’t something we’re venturing into lightly. Both of us strongly believe that local communities should be the ones electing their representatives without outside influence. And in a perfect world people would have equal representation within that community to elect those officials. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where Republicans have used gerrymandering to stack the deck in their favor, denying minorities equal representation in states across the nation. Not to mention re-enacting Jim Crow laws in 9 states and disenfranchising minority voters with voter ID laws.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on how the midterm races unfold over the next year and where we can put our money to good use. And I’m not above funding Republican campaigns to get the lesser of two Republican evils if it comes down to that. I’m not about to let perfect be the enemy of good enough.
It’s time for liberals to stop pretending we live in an ideal world and playing by idealist rules. It’s time to take the gloves off and buy our own congresspeople, even if that means setting aside some of our principles, because the Republicans have abandoned their principles years ago.
Despite being gay, I have a preponderance of privilege1.
I am privileged to be a white cis male born in America. I am privileged to come from a loving, caring household. My parents worked very hard while I was growing up and we always had enough quality food on the table. My parents paid for me to go to college and I graduated with no student loans. I am privileged to have a knack with computers, and privileged to have had access to one at a very early age. I am privileged to work in the tech industry and am paid insanely well. And while I work hard at my job, so do many others in many other industries who live paycheck to paycheck. I am privileged to be fully-abeled, have good health, and good health insurance through my company.
I have so much privilege that frankly, it’s embarrassing. I contributed nothing to being white, being male, being from a loving household, having a knack for tech, or being born fully-abled. Throughout the course of my life I’ve used and build upon these things to get where I am today. Doors were opened and opportunities presented to me because of my privilege.
The only aspect of my life where I don’t have privilege is being gay. And still I am privileged in that the thing that makes me part of a minority group is something I can easily hide if I felt my safety was at risk.
Being gay is what helped me see my privilege.
I think until you can identify some area where you don’t have privilege, it’s hard to really grasp what privilege means. It’s much easier to see doors that were closed in front of you for something you can’t change rather than ones opened just because of who you are. It wasn’t until I had to fight for the right to marry the man I loved that I understood that not everyone is playing on the same field.
It’s worth noting that privilege does not denigrate effort. You can work hard for what you’ve achieved with or without privilege, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t start with a leg up on the ladder because of that privilege.
Being privileged is what makes it easier for me to live as an openly gay man.
LGBTQ+ people can be fired simply for being gay in 28 states, yet because of my privilege I was never worried about this when I lived in Texas nor am I concerned about someone not hiring me because I’m gay. My privilege lets me get away with things like this worry-free that others can’t. And I feel that it’s my obligation to use that privilege to be very visibly out as a gay man, both personally and professionally. To advocate for those less privileged in my workplace, be they LGBTQ+, women, people of color, etc.
I consider it my moral obligation to use my privilege to help others with less privilege in any way that I can3, Because I did nothing to earn this privilege myself.
1 I know many people get wound around the axle on the word “privilege”. If you are a religiously-inclined person, just substitute “blessed” or “blessings” for privilege. It’s not an exact match but if that helps you with the concept, go for it.2
3 To those of religious backgrounds, this should bring to mind the parable of the faithful servant.
I have a hard time finding common ground with you, and common ground is essential in establishing a fruitful conversation about anything.
Can we at least agree that Nazis are bad?
The Nazis that came bearing swastikas.
The Nazis with their goal of an Aryan-only (ie: white-only) world.
The Nazis that hated and killed Jews, gays, the disabled, and anyone else who wasn’t like them.
The Nazis that killed over 11 million people in World War II.
The Nazis that my grandfather fought on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
Can we at least agree that Nazis are bad?
Because President Trump can’t:
“I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this — you had a group on one side, and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch,” Trump said. “But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left, you’ve just called them the left, that came, violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.”
Trump is claiming a moral equivalency between people who showed up with guns and swastikas chanting “Jews will not replace us” and the protesters who showed up to oppose them.
So I ask you again: can we at least agree that Nazis are bad?
Saturday, the day after Trump’s inauguration, I am joining the Women’s March in Seattle, a sister march to the one happening in Washington, DC. I am marching for visibility. Visibility for myself, my partner, my female friends, my friends of color, my LGBT friends, my Muslim friends, and others.
I have zero confidence that the incoming administration seeks to represent or benefit anyone who isn’t an affluent old white straight cis male. Look at how Trump’s top 4 cabinet positions are all white males, the first time in 28 years. Or how all of his cabinet is anti-LGBT. Or his intent to deport illegal immigrants and build a wall between the US and Mexico. Or create a Muslim registry here in the US. Or how he personally treats women, as exhibited by his treatment of Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly and his comment to “grab them by the pussy”.
I hate to break it to Trump, but straight cis white males are in the minority in this country. Hell, males alone are in the minority in this country.1
So I’m marching to make sure Trump and the rest of his administration know that we are here and we are not going away. We will stand up for each other and actively resist any efforts to erode our civil liberties. We are angry and we are motivated.
March with me.
Not in Seattle or Washington DC: find a march near you.
1 In 2010, 50.8% of the people in the US were women according to the census.
Daniel and I have serious concerns about the incoming administration’s attitude and commitment to the environment and the rights of anyone who isn’t an old straight white guy. While we may not be doing well, we can at least do good.
We sat down and made a list of organizations that were tackling issues and supporting groups near and dear to our hearts. We focused on organizations that support women, LGBT, people of color, and immigrants, both locally and nationally. We ended up with a rather large list of organizations we wanted to support at the end of 2016 but not enough money to support them all like we wanted. Instead of giving everyone a medium amount of money, we gave big to a few organizations and gave small to the rest.
We gave big to these organizations, wanting to focus locally and in areas that directly affect our LGBT community and women.
- Gay City
Supports the LGBT community in Seattle, including an LGBT library, free STI testing, and other health services.
- Lambert House
Provides a safe place for LGBT youth in Seattle.
- Teen Feed
Provides food and services to homeless youth. Teen Feed serves all youth, but a disproportionate number of homeless teens are LGBT.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Protects the civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
- Planned Parenthood
Supports family planning and reproductive rights of all people, women & men, gay & straight.
These aren’t any less important than the others, but we feel it’s more effective to give larger donations and there was only so much money to go around. We believe in the work these groups are doing and wanted to let them know they have our support.
- Ada Developers Academy
Training program in Seattle for women in software development.
- Colectiva Legal
Provides legal support for undocumented immigrants.
- Entre Hermanos
Promotes health and well-being of LGBT Latinos.
Fights to protect the environment.
- Ecological Society of America, SEEDS
Works to reduce the under-representation of minority groups in the field of ecology.
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Works for equality of all people regardless of race.
- National Center for Transgender Equality
Advocates for social justice for transgender people.
- Lambda Legal
Fights for LGBT legal rights.
Pushes back against Christian fundamentalist bigotry towards LGBT people.
- Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
Fights hate and bigotry.
Where are you doing good?
What organizations are near and dear to your heart? What groups are you supporting?