Addressing the Root Causes of Trumpism : Words to the Wise
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Raymond L. Rigoglioso
Founder and Executive Director
All contents copyright © 2016 Raymond L. Rigoglioso.

Addressing the Root Causes of Trumpism

by Raymond Rigoglioso on 12/04/16

We can point to economic stagnation of the working and middle class as a major factor in Trump's stunning rise to power. But we cannot underestimate the emotional appeal of his campaign's explicit xenophobia, misogyny, and anti-LGBT sentiment.

A wave of anger fueled Trump's campaign. People may have voted for Trump for a variety of reasons, but the fact is they chose a man whose style and policies bully, threaten, and devalue anyone who is not a white, Christian, heterosexual man. 

As startling as this is, Trump's election has, as a friend of mine who is an Episcopal priest in Provincetown described it, held up a mirror to us as a country. In a moving Facebook post, he wrote, "Mirrors don't lie. The election of 2016 exposed an inner ugliness that for decades was cloaked by pretense and hypocrisy."

It didn't take much to coax that ugliness out of its closet. An op-ed in the New York Times from a former white nationalist describes how politicians can easily exploit the "fear of the other"--and not just among avowed racists, but even moderates--to win elections. 

This year has given Americans a clear picture of who we are. The hierarchy of human value--with straight, white, wealthy, Christian men at the top, and everyone else underneath in descending order of social import--remains firmly in place.

We have much work to do--politically, and on the level of consciousness.

Advancing Consciousness Change

This election has challenged me deeply--personally, and in my role as founder and executive director of Gay Men of Wisdom. With someone as dangerous as Trump in the White House, I have asked, where should I put my energies? 

I believe an effective response requires working on two fronts simultaneously: politically, and on the level of consciousness. I have made a personal commitment to do both. I cannot sit idly by while the new president prepares an agenda that will, among many other things I strongly oppose, make xenophobia a norm.

But political action without a clear vision leads nowhere. We need to offer an alternative. To do this, we must answer the question: What world do we want to live in? And then we must model that vision for others.

Consciousness change does not happen overnight. Trump did not happen overnight. Conservative think tanks, right-leaning media outlets, and regressive political policies have seeded the bed for years. 

Truly Valuing Human Differences

If we truly valued human differences, Trump never would have won the election. We would not fear the "other," subjugate women, or threaten violence against an "outsider." Instead, we would recognize the contributions that each group makes to the whole of humanity.

We need a new way of seeing each other--one that replaces hierarchy with a circle. That is what Gay Men of Wisdom offers.

Gay Men of Wisdom provides a model for HOW to value human differences. It's premised on the notion that differences exist for a reason, and that by honestly exploring them, we can discover how differences strengthen the whole.

It offers an alternative to our current arguments for equal rights, in which minority groups deny and attempt to suppress their differences in order fit into and become acceptable to the dominant group. Rather than trying to fit in, this approach says, "We stick out for a reason."

Building a National Movement

This fall, Gay Men of Wisdom has formed as a nonprofit organization, recruited a board of directors, and is planning the rollout of national programs.

In the next four months, we will launch the monthly Living Out Your Gifts groups in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Orlando, Florida, Austin, Texas, Seattle, Washington, and online. We've chosen to design these groups to foster community--to invite gay men to gather with a sense of purpose, and to explore their distinct gay male gifts.

Each session of the groups will provide an exploration of one of the 14 Distinct Gay Male Gifts. The groups require no registration, no advance preparation, and request only modest donations. No one will be turned away for inability to pay. 

Imagine a time when:

  • All gay men recognize their social purpose and contributions.
  • We understand that our primary difference from others is in the social roles we play, not our sexuality.
  • Other groups of people begin asking themselves, "How do we contribute to the welfare and vitality of the human family?"

That is the world Gay Men of Wisdom is working to create. Let the valuing of human differences begin with us.

Comments (2)

1. Jay Ross said on 12/4/16 - 01:18PM
Love that you are putting action to my personal thoughts! :-) It's refreshing to know that others share similar thinking. In my life, modeling a self-aware and unassuming confidence always had (or at least appeared to have) more of an impact on changing people's perceptions (of myself and, by proxy, gay men) than any debate or argument. As a macro-level social worker, the need for rational policy, systems reform, and advocacy action, along with a shift in social consciousness, also resonates with me. Before the election, this positive evolution was already happening on both fronts. Donald Trump is the fear of this progress, personified. Although his election has slowed the political momentum, conscious minds don't close; that is our ace in the hole. Who knows, Trump's election may work in our favor as he has already lured the dragon out of its cave, which makes it easier to conquer. Also, his inevitable failure will most likely create further disillusionment in our country, and maybe when that happens, it will leave America desperate for, and open to, genuinely progressive change.
2. Jay Ross said on 12/4/16 - 01:24PM
It's refreshing to know that others share similar thinking. As a macro-level social worker, the need for rational policy, systems reform, and advocacy action, along with a shift in social consciousness, resonates with me. Before the election, this positive evolution was already happening on both fronts. Donald Trump is the fear of this progress, personified. Although his election has slowed the political momentum, conscious minds don't close; that is our ace in the hole. Who knows, Trump's election may work in our favor as he has already lured the dragon out of its cave, which makes it easier to conquer. Also, his inevitable failure will most likely create further disillusionment, and maybe when that happens, it will leave America desperate for, and open to, genuinely progressive change.


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