Your silence will not protect you. ~ Audre LordeLast Thursday, like many people, I was devastated. I cried and did not want to interact with anyone, even though I had a job to go to. Worse yet, at my job I am expected to be an optimistic person who embraces recovery, but I did not feel that way at all then. I am still devastated, but fortunately I am no longer in the pits of despair. Just because Trump is the president elect does not mean that all hope is lost - it does mean, however, that no one with a conscience can rest and be silent anymore. A friend of mine said that we just need to wait and trust in the Lord, well, my theology is different. I believe that the Lord acts through us and so the time for waiting is over if we truly want to show others that ours is a God of Love and not a God of discrimination. Activism, for me, is also a form of self-care. It makes me feel powerful and useful and it prevents the darkness from consuming me. I decided to write my governor about my concerns and I urge you to do the same. I decided to keep the letter positive, so that he would be more willing to listen to me and I kept it personal. I think it's important for our elected officials to know how their policies and actions actually will affect their constituents.
Here is my letter that I wrote last night to Governor Deal of Georgia. I kept it focused on two main areas - standing up to discrimination and religious freedom bills and to increase mental health and social security funding. I hope that you will become more active in your local politics too.
Dear Governor Deal,
I am writing you to thank you for some of things of you have done this year. I was very proud when you stated that you, “do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” in response to HB 757. I want to urge you to remember this powerful statement during the next four years. As a member of the LGBT community, a Christian, and a Georgian, I hope that you will remember your previous words if another “religious freedom” bill comes forward and never take them back.
I am also very proud that Georgia is a state with mental health courts. We need extensive criminal justice reform in our country and mental health courts are a big step in the right direction. I am a constituent who is evidence that recovery is possible. I am a certified peer specialist that works at the Decatur Peer Support and Wellness Center. We are a nonclinical, trauma informed environment that works to prevent psychiatric hospitalizations and empower our peers. I am also on social security disability insurance. Many people think that getting on SSDI means that a person’s life is over but for many people it is the beginning of a wonderful recovery journey. It was for me. Because of obtaining SSDI, I was able to move out of my parent’s home and work on myself. It enabled me to move towards my true life goals and now I have a wonderful career where I do not feel stigmatized. I would like you to remember people like me during the next four years when pressured to make cuts to the budget. Mental health services and social security funding needs to be increased – recovery is real but is hard to obtain without the right supports.
I am a Georgian constituent whose life has been made better by some of your decisions – please continue to fund mental health services and to veto discrimination during these next four years no matter how much pressure you face – the very lives of many Georgians depend on it.