The world is a little more frightening for us queer folk since the last annual increment. I mean, it wasn’t much of a surprise given the train wreck of 2017 — there wasn’t much hope to begin with and now it feels like we’re just watching the coffin roll into the crematorium. Maybe I am being negative but who can blame me? I find myself a refugee in a country merrily skipping towards Gomorrah. The government here in the UK might not be actively trying to destroy me, but that’s only because they've decided to destroy everyone.
What’s bizarre is how well I’ve done on a personal level even as I watch the political nightmare unfold. It colours the fatalistic atmosphere in the streets: we’re all going to hell in a handbasket but at least my handbasket is comfortable. The impending doom that wafts off the corpse of 2018 makes it difficult for me to talk about what was positive.
But here we are and I wouldn’t want the whole thing to be doom and gloom, so it’s nice to know that most of my friends are doing better than they were the year before. Nobody died — that sounds melodramatic but it isn’t. Many had a very real chance of not making it but we’re all still here. The climate made that milestone particularly notable.
“I’m glad you made it,” is the thing I keep saying to friends as we wish each other a happy new year. I say it without sarcasm. We made it and it wasn’t clear that we would. Whatever demons we faced, inside and out, didn’t win this year. We’re all here.
"PEOPLE WHO WOULD DO US HARM FEEL POWERFUL; WE ARE MORE THREATENED THAN BEFORE."
That’s not to say we’re not all worse for the wear. We are not safe and the outside world continues to press on our fragile mental states. People who would do us harm feel powerful; we are more threatened than before. But we’re here, we made it this far and there is a sense of hope that maybe it won’t be so bad in 2019.
Not a hope for a good year. The bar isn’t set that high; something not so bad will do. And we keep saying it! We’re forever hoping it won’t be so bad. It’s at a point now where I don’t know if I could trust a good year. I keep waiting for the backhand.
What would a good year look like? Some security would be a great start. Political leaders that aren’t trying to kill us. Help for the most vulnerable, some of whom I work so hard to help with their demons. I obviously don’t help everyone; I have to be very selective about who gets my energy or the sea of desperation would swallow me. I hate watching people I know suffer, but I’m forced to so I can save my own skin.
For me, that illustrates the difference between charity and public service. It shows me how criminally negligent governments have been. Charities help until they don’t. Public services are, in theory, not allowed to stop helping. They’re not allowed to turn people away with no recourse. I know they do, but that is a failing on the part of those who run it, not the charter under which they run.
Brexit is the stench that follows me into 2019, and it scares me. It means the suffering will continue. I’m no fan of the neoliberal EU, but I would have to be a congenital idiot to look at what’s happening and think it was preferable. There is a small hope that it will be stopped; the machinery to stop it is all there for someone to throw the switch. I don’t think they will.
I worry for those folks who weren’t so lucky: those who didn’t get through the year with all of their people. The people that know the people who didn’t make it. Grief makes those around you feel helpless; sending love feels futile because each of us is the only us-shaped thing in anyone’s life. Nothing can replace that absence.
"WE’LL DO OUR BEST TO AVOID HELL BUT IF IT’S HELL WE FACE IN 2019, WE’LL DO IT AS A FAMILY."
For those of us who are still here, things will keep changing. Life is change, and for all the horrible pressure twisting all that’s good, there is still good. Those around me are pulling together because we have no choice, but also because we love each other. This is our handbasket and if we’re going to hell, we’re going to make it the nicest handbasket we can. We’ll do our best to avoid hell but if it’s hell we face in 2019, we’ll do it as a family.
Unfortunately, hell is pretty much here. The nazis are back, the evangelicals keep funding TERFs, the Trump administration is trying to systemically destroy us, immigrants, minorities of all kinds and anyone else who just doesn’t look right. Brexit might happen, but even if it’s stopped the poor will get crushed and the rich will lose money they don’t care about. We won’t all make it. Maybe it’ll be OK in the end, but many won’t see the end.
My goal for the new year is to make it, whatever it takes, and to help those in my life make it with me. I want to reach out to the people in my life today next year and say to them that I’m glad they made it. If 2019 throws us a bone and some of the horror stops, great. Either way, I hope we all manage to see 2020.