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Owning my identity and values post-election results

I am a bisexual Asian-American woman.

After yesterday, it feels imperative to own this identity and to out myself to everyone I know. I will not let fear of bigotry silence my voice or shame me into renouncing who I am.

In some ways, I feel unsafe in my own city. I am afraid that a man across the street may touch or grab me without my consent. I am afraid that I’ll be unable to hold a woman’s hand in public, or kiss or marry a woman if I choose to. I am afraid of facing blatant racism and finding no recourse. I am frightened by the possibilities of a Republican-controlled Congress and Supreme Court, and how they may limit my choices for my body and sexuality. I am afraid of being powerless being who I am.

In other ways, I am grateful to be here in San Francisco, surrounded by love and community. I am grateful for all of the friends that have reached out to see if I’m okay, that recognize that this isn’t just a four-year nightmare that will end in 2020. I am grateful for the safe spaces I’ve found, including the Pacific Center in Berkeley, the SF Zen Center, and my yoga studio. I am grateful to work at Etsy, a place that unequivocally supports “keeping it real”.

I am grateful that I feel empowered to own my identity, and that years of self-care and therapy have washed away shame. I am grateful that I’m discovering the joy of being myself and the peace that comes with having no secrets from the world.

I will not pretend that things are okay right now, or that they will be in four years. And I recognize that my efforts are required to motivate change. My role as a college-educated woman working in technology cannot continue to further my complacency. My privilege shall not blind me; instead, my privilege demands increased receptivity to and compassion for those less fortunate.

I am thankful to my friends and neighbors that invested time and effort into getting the vote out, volunteering at polling stations, phone/text-banking, and all other forms of political engagement. I accept that my inaction contributed to this election outcome, and I can do better.

With 50% of the country voting to bring America back to greatness, I find it necessary to question why so many of us feel let down by our government. I want to invest in understanding economic inequity, why so many Americans feel hopeless, and what it’s like outside of this San Francisco oasis. In his victory speech, Trump suggested that those forgotten among us are finally being seen, and maybe he’s onto something. I do not deny those individuals this right; being seen and understood is everyone’s right.

So what comes next? In the near term, I’d like to do two things: (1) educate myself on U.S. economic inequity and ways I can contribute to a solution, and (2) start giving back more visibly to minority communities. I am going to start with one of my own, the LGBTQ community.

Until I find stable ground again, I’d like to have the following interactions with you all, my friends:

  • For fellow women, queer people, and other minorities, I would love to support you in whatever it is you’re going through. I’m hear to listen and to act as a sounding board if needed.
  • For all, I am feeling depressed and sad right now, and likely won’t be as energetic and happy as usual (in the office, at group meetings, in public). Please know that I’m grieving and will be better in time. If you have suggestions for LGBTQ groups in San Francisco looking for volunteers or books to read to educate myself, I would appreciate them.

Over the years, I’ve developed four foundational values that help to ground me and guide my decision-making. They are as follows:

  1. Start with love
  2. Open to curiosity
  3. Express oneself
  4. Give back in gratitude and humility

These values remind me that love will always trump hate, and that we are never alone. From the water we drink to the computers we work on, we are part of an interconnected web of life. It is the joy of the human condition that we can work to strengthen this connection through compassion and love for ourselves and each other.

I started out this note owning my individual identity, and I want to end by acknowledging that we as individuals really are stronger together. May we use this election as an impetus to be more kind and loving, and to strive for empathy for those different than us. In this way, may we heal anger and fear and hatred in all of our hearts.

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