A Southern biker, a Republican frat boy and a sometimes snarky gay man of a certain age walk into bar. OK, so maybe it’s not a bar, it’s more like a Hibachi buffet and it’s not the beginning to a joke that ends with the punch line “Sure, let me hold your monkey.” This is more like a fundamental activity that occurs during a day in the life your A Gay in the Life columnist.
In the real world, where I show up daily and try to earn enough money to support my shoe habit and occasionally tip some earnest young Coastal Carolina University student working his way through college as an underwear model/go-go boy, political discourse is never completely off the table. In fact, it is an envelope that seems to be pushed on a daily basis. Guess which side I tend to favor?
Liberal or not, I am not one of those self-doubting people who only surrounds himself with like-minded folks who spew liberal pablum and worship all things blue. In fact, my closest friends are indeed the Southern biker and the Republican frat boy. The three of us have formed what we like to refer to as the “Triangle of Trust” in our office. It’s a solid equilateral triangle and we have no desire to change it. It works for us and it confuses people. What more can you ask for?
With the possibility of so much conflict among three very diverse people, we seem to experience none. We recognize that behind every ideology and every position on every issue, there exists a person. If we reduce our views to only an issue, we miss out on a significant life experience. Because we have taken the time to get to know each other, we have become invested in each other’s lives and well-being. I think they call that empathy. I would use the word “progress” but I don’t want to upset anyone.
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The truth is that red and blue are no longer neat little labels that apply to every person and every condition. Life in our great country is slowly melting into a deep purple haze. It’s practically impossible for the average citizen not to know someone who would have been completely outside of their comfort zone a few years ago. The real challenge is what we do with this new state of affairs. Denial is no longer an option if you plan on leaving your house at some point.
It’s time to acknowledge that our political playground is officially more complicated than ever. The days when we existed in a look-like-me, think-like-me, worship-like-me cocoon are officially extinct. It’s not always palatable to admit that real diversity requires making room for the opposing views. But it does. When we fail to consider other points of view and become laser focused on our agenda, we often receive a very unpleasant reality check.
Tuesday’s election was not a pretty one for the more liberal-minded. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley was already declared a winner before I left my office. Then, as the night progressed and control of the U.S. Senate sank away into a deep red sea, even the timeless beauty and profound wisdom of Anderson Cooper could not soften the blow.
To add insult to injury, South Carolina also sent Republican senators Lindsay Graham and Tim Scott back to Washington for another six years. While that seems harsh, our state was not alone in this trend. Iowa, Arkansas, North Carolina and even Colorado followed suit to hand control of the Senate over to Republicans. That was not good end to the day for the Dems.
While there is no easy remedy for a post-election wave of angst, I think it delivers a mandate to move beyond the rhetoric of our own interests and to try to find the humanity in the people who do not appear to be the same as us on the surface. Focusing on the matters that divide us is certainly not going to facilitate any progress. I don’t want to see the next two years consist of nothing but gridlock, repeal votes on Obamacare and presidential vetoes, but without a real dialogue between people that is exactly where we are headed.
Working through the pain on Tuesday night, I continued to rewrite this week’s column with the never-ending sounds of my iPhone dinging in the background. Those dings were good-natured reminders from my brothers of the triangle that more than a few key Democrats received a sound ass-kicking during the night. But they were also reminders that we have built very successful coalition on a seemingly improbable demographic base. I’m not saying we’re the perfect model for a political strategy but in the midst of a great deal of change, we’re still standing.
Out & About
• Friday, Nov. 7 - Takeover Grand Strand Event will meet at Banditos Restaurant and Cantina from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at 1410 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach. For additional info visitwww.facebook.com/groups/takeovergrandstrand
• Thursday, Nov. 13 – Takeover Grand Strand for the South End will meet from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Bovine’s in Murrells Inlet. For details, visitwww.facebook.com/events/368168193357250/
• Friday, Nov. 14 – Breonna Tenae’s Midnight Cabaret will be at Pulse Ultra Club in Myrtle Beach, located at 2701 N. King’s Hwy. See the entire lineup of performers athttps://www.facebook.com/PulseUltraClub