Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Fear of the alternate opinion: Division within a community

Yesterday afternoon I was my usual self, doing the rounds on social media, as someone who engages with politics and always has done this is a normal practice for me, especially as a student of Social Media at post graduate level.

Ever since the Presidential election campaign in the States I have always been very vocal about my views, especially in terms of Donald Trump, therefore I have always received abusive messages from Trump supporters, which I expected if I am perfectly honest. In fact during the weeks running up to the election I was purposely replying to accounts such as that of US political heavyweight Newt Gingrich, perfectly expecting a torrent of abuse from Trump supporters, which I got and I handled. I'm a big boy! (that's not meant to be dirty).

But what I was not prepared for was a torrent of abuse from people within my own community - the LGBT community, which I received last night and it just showed me how divided society is, not just in terms of right wing and left wing but within hard right and left wing political opinion. It seems there is an extremism on both sides, which makes compromise impossible, it makes alternative opinions impossible and this is NOT democracy.

I posted an article yesterday saying I approached Donald Trump's comments on CBS' 60 Minutes with CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM, in that he said he would not touch the same sex marriage decision, made by the Supreme Court last year, which allows same sex couples across the entire United States to get married.

But when I made this point to a number of people within the LGBT community on Twitter I was immediately set upon, told to shut up, told I was a racist, told I was a fascist, told I was transphobic, then the one that took the biscuit, told I was homophobic. All because I simply said in terms of Trump, MAYBE, the key word being MAYBE, it won't be so bad for LGBT people, that's all I said. I didn't start saying "choo choo, all aboard the Trump train" or anything ridiculous like that, just that maybe it would be nice to think that Trump won't be apocalyptic for LGBT people.

My mistake yesterday was daring to have an alternative opinion. I truly believe that some people want him to be apocalyptic for LGBT people to be able to say "I told you so!" - motives which are quite frankly selfish in nature. I would much prefer Trump not to be bad for LGBT, for us to look back in 4 years time and see none of our rights interfered with, is it so bad to have a bit of optimism? Like I said it is optimism which is cautious in nature. It is by no means an endorsement for Trump which some people were accusing me of in nature.

As I have said in previous blog posts some Trump supporters aren't terrible people, some of them are yes, but some of them are just normal people completely fed up with politics as usual. I believe their vote for Trump as a result of those feelings is the wrong way to protest politics as usual, but I can certainly sympathise with them. It was these people last night who thanked me for at least being willing to give the Trump presidency a chance, they weren't wanting me to endorse the man, they just want him to be given a chance. He won the election fairly (as far as we know) and we must accept that. By this I don't mean support him, I just mean have a bit of optimism, try not to wish this apocalyptic nightmare upon us.

A few final points, firstly, what does it say to LGBT youth in America and around the world if we are full of fear and division? Does that help those who are struggling to come out? NO, it pushes them further into the closet. We need HOPE, that is what we need, that is what will get us through 4 years of uncertainty that a Trump Administration undoubtably brings.

And secondly, I believe everyone is entitled to a view unless they're being hateful or abusive to another human being (which I experienced last night), we must embrace alternative opinions and be willing to debate in a civilised manner, otherwise the left will continue to loose political power and we will continue to have to risk our rights on right wing administrations.

LISTEN. LEARN. DEBATE. RESPECT - that is what is needed right now not more FEAR, DIVISION AND HATE, especially among a community which should be UNITED.

-Sam

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