Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Welcome to November 2016.

This has been one of the darkest years of our collective American existence. The true character of a large part of our nation has been exposed to the entire world and played out tirelessly on the media circuit. We Americans have some deep soul searching to do and for many of you, I hope you do it before you step into the booth to vote for our next leader. I don't have to tell you who the only real choice is: Hillary Clinton, a woman who has spent her entire lifetime in public service and has the scars to prove it. Don't listen to me. Do your own research. Look up the facts, not the theories. Look carefully at her opponent's record and compare it HONESTLY. But also listen to the opinion of calm and experienced republican as well as democratic sources; to major news outlets and respected newspapers; and to many of them who have never endorsed a democratic candidate. But believe it or not, I didn't wake up today thinking about the election.

I woke up today thinking about triggers. I realize that while this might be a common concept to many of us, still others see the word used on Facebook and don't fully understand it. Once you have been the victim of and subsequently a survivor of assault, discrimination, physical or mental trauma, have been on the battlefield, or dealt with any other abuse, you are the recipient of triggers. They are unavoidable and can happen at any time, place, or setting. Sometimes 'appropriate' sometimes embarrassing. Always a personal burden. They hit like a lightning strike then drown you in a tidal wave of panic, emotion, tears, dread, terror. With the flight or fight response in full gear, you just want to escape. I know you do. I do.

The past couple of years have been riddled with triggers. As far as I can remember, mine began with the Bill Cosby case and continue to this day. If you have been raped, you have had to deal with triggers. If you have been abused, you have had to deal with triggers. If you have had an angry boss or other male authority figure talk over you, scream at you, demean you, you have been dealing with triggers. If you are Mexican-American, you have been dealing with triggers. If you are a recent immigrant (documented or not) you have been dealing with triggers. If you are a Muslim, you have been dealing with triggers. If you are a woman, you have been dealing with triggers. And if you are black in America, you have been dealing with triggers, both from words and from guns.

When I hear Donald Trump talk with intense rage over Hillary Clinton during a debate, I hear my father screaming at my mother as my brother and I cried and banged on their door to get him to stop, then ran away to hide from him once he did and shifted to come for us. When I hear Donald Trump talk smugly about how smart he is, I see the familiar and sadistic smirk of a camp director who abused me and countless other young boys. He knew he would get away with it. When I hear Donald Trump talk about women, including his own daughter, I hear the voices of older men who raped young female friends of mine growing up; and I also hear the voices of the older men who saw me as an easy target as well. When I hear Donald Trump encourage his millions of supporters to take violent actions against minorities, I am reminded of how people were encouraged to take violent actions against me as a child, simply for being a Jew. When I hear Donald Trump talk about mass deportation of immigrants and Muslims, I hear the voice of Adolph Hitler deporting my family to other countries, then later to their deaths in the concentration camps. And when I hear his supporters, foaming at the mouth, screaming things like 'Killary' 'Lock her up' and 'Jew-S-A', I am frozen in a state of shock. When I am working out at the Christian-based Green Hills YMCA and I hear white women and men responding to yet another murder-by-police of an unarmed black civilian by saying 'Well if he just listened to the officer like we do, he would still be alive', I know deep in my soul that we are a nation beyond repair.

This was once the United States of America. It shouldn't take a massive terrorist attack to draw us closer to that place. I am simultaneously embarrassed of and terrified of my homeland. Who are we? What have we become? Regardless of who wins this election, I challenge all of you to search your souls and your conscience for answers. Please walk up to a mirror, look yourself directly in the eyes, and ask yourself: Am I really ok with all of this? Am I 'proud to be an American'? Or, is my 'patriotism' really a cloak for racism, bigotry, fear, and hatred? I would imagine it is hard to face these questions, especially for those out there who would have to answer yes. But this is the situation we are in and those are the most pertinent questions one can ask themselves this morning. If you survive those questions, go deeper: Am I helping matters by speaking out against racism, bigotry, fear, and hatred when I see it? Or am I going along with it? Am I remaining silent at a time when doing so means direct violence against blacks, Muslims, immigrants, Jews, and other minority groups?

In the 1980's, as AIDS took the world by storm and ravaged the gay community, an activist organization emerged called ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). I marched with them several times in Greenwich Village as I was in NYC and NJ at the time. I was already living a life in the arts; specifically theater at the time. I am certain that to many in the south, this group seemed radical. But to those of us in the arts, watching so many people we loved dying all around us, as our President Ronald Reagan remained silent about the epidemic, the movement was anything but radical. It was a moral imperative. Not so different from the moral imperative we face right now as a nation. ACT UP came into my mind as I awoke this morning, November 1, 2016, a week before the most important Presidential election of our time. I was reminded of ACT UP due to the direction our nation has taken; specifically because ACT UP chose to use the Nazi symbol from the uniforms of homosexuals in the death camps for their logo; and specifically for their slogans calling the public to action: IGNORANCE = FEAR, SILENCE = DEATH.

Ignorance and fear fueled the rise of the conservative movement and led directly to Donald Trump. SILENCE now means DEATH to so many of your fellow Americans. This is not an exaggeration. This is happening right now, and in real time, right here in these once United States of America.

I beg all of you who have not yet voted to read this before you go out to the polls to vote. I beg you to consider these words and to take on that mantra. For those who have already voted, please share these words with any undecided friends, and with any supporters of Donald Trump. Please take this all in and may it guide your lives. Otherwise, this country of ours, it might be finished, for good.


Be safe. Be strong. Be courageous. Do the right thing for our country.


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