Dumbfounded. Knocked out. Afraid. Broken. These are just a few of the things that many of us are feeling in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic rise to presidential power on Nov. 8.

If you’re anything like us, you have a lot of questions. You may have even been harassed already. We reached out to some of our best and brightest for answers, options, hope. And they provided just that. We’re not done yet. And so we rise. Here are some words from our friends. Stay strong.

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith

nadinesmithIf you did not understand intersectionality – the connection between all forms of oppression – before, I hope you understand it now. Trump prevailed by appealing to white identity and racial fear. He summoned within the shrinking white electorate a fear of the brown menace, of Mexicans and Muslims swarming “our borders.”

And now a climate change denier is in charge of protecting the environment. Now Trump will select Supreme Court justices he has promised will roll back marriage equality. Now millions of Americans will lose any access to healthcare, and some will die because of it.

Barely half of America’s eligible voters cast a ballot and the majority voted for Hillary Clinton. Let this sink in: Less than a quarter of U.S. voters was all it took to secure this election for a con man and a bigot. The right-wing struck a resonate and fearful note and too many on the smug left stood on the sidelines. And oh the sexism.

Racism and sexism combined to imperil the country and the planet as this superpower hands the keys to an imbalanced, vindictive bigot. I think America will survive. I think we here will fight back in ways unavailable in Hitler’s Germany. I pray we don’t wipe another country off the face of the earth before we wrest control back of this train.

So when those of us fighting like hell for the rights of LGBT people speak out against voter suppression, racism, sexism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, immigrant bashing, the school to prison pipeline, the failed drug war, we do so out of an understanding that our fates are tied quite literally. This is not a human rights ecosystem that allows you to “get yours” and move on.

So here are the five things you can do to not feel helpless, powerless and fearful in these uncertain and hostile times:

1: Take care of yourself. Reach out to friends. Talk and don’t let fear overtake you. Don’t live on Facebook and steep in paranoia. We have work to do and we need you.

2: Stay involved with the groups doing the work. Equality Florida will continue to block the bad and push for pro-equality protections. Join us www.eqfl.org.

3: Reach out in real life to family and friends who voted for Trump and help them understand the impact. Write if you don’t trust that a conversation to be productive.

4: Be prepared to interrupt bullying. Hate crimes are likely to increase and you need to be prepared to stand up when you see someone being targeted. http://www.bystanderrevolution.org/

5: Remember more than 75 percent of American voters did NOT vote for Trump. The majority does not endorse his fearful vision. You are not alone. Don’t shrink back in fear when we need you standing with us to stop the effort to harm us.

Zebra Coalition CEO Heather Wilkie

heatherwilkie“We are strong, we are stronger together, we are OrlandoStrong, OrlandoUnited.”

These words have been written many times over the past several months and today we find ourselves in a place where they have never been more important. We are a community filled with resilience and we have a momentum that allows us to continue to shine in so many ways.

As you think about how you may be able to support your community, consider the organizations that are in need of help through the upcoming holiday season. You can volunteer in many ways: donate food to provide Thanksgiving meals to our LGBT+ community who may not have a supportive family; sponsor a youth for the holidays who has been rejected by their family; pledge to support an LGBT+ organization (Equality Florida) that works to end oppression.

We are OrlandoStrong. We will continue to spread hope and positivity.

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan

pattysheehanLike most of progressive America I woke up Wednesday with what felt like a hangover. I don’t drink. It was one of the most disappointing nights—and days—of my life. But I was buoyed by Secretary Clinton’s concession speech, most remarkably by “You will have successes and setbacks, too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” So how do we do that? We did a great job here in Orange County, and swept most of the local races. But clearly we were in a bubble. We need to do a better job of reaching out to our minority partners and work together more. It is harder to do when you are a diverse group. The Trumpets were for the most part a monolithic group of angry white voters. They coalesced. We did not. Young voters and the Obama coalition were not motivated to participate. But we need to work together all of the time. It seems we can put together marches and protests at a moments notice. People will show up. Even take the risk of getting hit with rubber bullets
and pepper spray. But they won’t vote. Like President Obama said, “Don’t boo, vote!” We ALL need to take a pledge to each other across our racial, ethnic, and social divides and promise each other that we will vote in every single election as progressive voters. Not just when it will personally benefit ourselves. We need to stop thinking of “me,” and start thinking of “we.”

We people of color, women, LGBTQ, people of faith, are the majority if we band together; if we support each other. In the aftermath of Pulse, I was so amazed by the way we all came together as a community. We have to continue it, and expand it. We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. By only caring about individual self-interests we took our eyes off the prize. I heard people say no one had done enough for them, or they didn’t agree 100 percent, or that all the candidates were the same anyway. This flawed thinking and apathy has brought us to this place. This election did matter. Quit taking your opinion to the streets and start taking it to the voting booth. Because while your opinion matters, it is your vote that counts. And this was not the election for a protest vote. The third party candidates cost us Florida.

Orlando attorney and activist Patrick Howell

patrickhowellAs a registered Republican that is also a white male, it may seem I’m more insulated from the election results than most LGBTQ Floridians. But many of those that I love don’t fall into those same categories I just listed, including my boyfriend and his family, my adopted brother and sister, and many friends and co-workers. If they are upset and worried, then I am also upset and worried.

I read an article today about a movement in Australia and Great Britain to help Muslims in those countries feel safe. People wear a simple safety pin on their shirt or lapel to as a pledge of solidarity, support and safety. I pledge to do this simple act of support for everyone that may now need it, and I encourage others to also do the same. Let’s make it clear that all are welcome in Florida!

Orlando attorney and activist Mary Meeks

marymeeksOne of the first questions I got after the election was, “Is my marriage in jeopardy?” And here’s my tempered good news: neither Trump nor the current Republican Congress can unilaterally take away marriage equality. But Trump can appoint Supreme Court justices that he believes will vote in the future to take away those rights. That possibility is years in the future and ultimately unlikely based on the legal doctrine of stare decisis (the Supreme Court very rarely reverses its own prior decisions). Speaking of the Supreme Court though, it has an empty chair that Trump can fill right away, and three other very elderly justices. The odds are great that Trump’s Supreme Court will affect our lives negatively in numerous ways for the next century as important civil rights issues get decided there.

More immediate threats loom. President Obama’s executive orders that protect LGBT federal employees and contractors will likely be retracted, as will his order protecting transgender students in public schools. LGBT-rights legislation will go nowhere in the Republican Congress, and discriminatory “religious liberty” laws will be championed. Pro-LGBT regulatory directives that were issued by President Obama’s various cabinet agencies could be undone, and anti-LGBT judges may be appointed to courts nationwide. We need to use all of our collective efforts to play good defense for the next two years, and then elect enough supportive Senators and Representatives in the midterm election to be able to block Trump for the following two years until we can vote him out of office.

So as we mourn the elevation of Trump and learn to exist in this more hostile nation, let’s remember that we’re not alone. Women, people of color, Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities are facing comparable threats from a Trump government. Now is the time to band together, unite our efforts, and vote for change as soon as we can. And in the meantime, love the people you love with all your heart and soul!

Florida Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Susan Smith

susansmithThe coming years are going to be a battle to keep Trump, the GOP and complicit Democrats from doing harm to our country’s most vulnerable citizens. Progressives must lead this fight by standing up for Americans who suffer most from economic policies that favor the 1 percent, and those who are targets of bigotry, misogyny and racism. We must also defend America’s standing and good faith in the world community. We’re ready for that fight.

Trans activist and Watermark columnist Maia Monet

maiamonetWithin our own community, take care to be kind to yourselves and others. Some of us may need a little extra help coping in these tenuous times. In particular, if you know someone transgender, let them know you care. We are a vulnerable group whose rights are likely first on the chopping block. Among them, executive orders barring discrimination based on gender identity in federal buildings, vendors, and public schools could be rescinded as early as the first day of the Trump administration. Yes, marriage equality is important to all of us, but we cannot let tunnel vision for one issue blind us to very pressing concerns.

There are doubtless tough days ahead, but the rights we enjoy today were won by generations struggling under even tougher circumstances. We owe it to them to continue the good fight. And if you ever feel like the odds are stacked against us, take comfort in knowing more voted for her than him. We shall overcome.

Florida Senator-elect Linda Stewart

lindastewartMy reaction on November 8, 2016, was excitement for Orange County and the newly elected Democratic Congressional, state and local officials. However, by 10 p.m. it became unbelievable and the horrible thoughts started creeping forward: “What is to become of our successes—in equality, LGBT rights in our community and women’s issues—in January?” My top concern was that we might see all our hard work unraveled and reversed. But we are strong and have fought too long and hard to allow our good work be destroyed.

How we must react: We must elect local and state officials who will turn this national possibility into an effort to stop at the Florida line and control our own destiny. Recruitment and support of those who will actually support our issues, and not just say they will do it! Love not hate will prevail as it has for us in Central Florida. Spread our unfaltering love to other parts of the state and remember in two years there will be another round of elections for governor, cabinet members, legislators and senators. Let’s start recruitment of candidates now. Pick a candidate or two that you will get behind and put your soul into their elections. In the next few months, let’s hear from those who would be great candidates. Then we will need to work to get them into office, just like the successes that we have experienced in Central Florida.

We cannot weep. We must keep our heads high and determined to reach the goals of electing good candidates, fight against those who think they have a license to do harm, to speak badly, or to unravel everything we have worked to achieve.

Love not Hate, but now we also need to add “determined to survive.”

Equality Florida Transgender Inclusion Director Gina Duncan

ginaduncanThe reality of what has happened in America is hard to grasp. As we awaken to this foreign political landscape, many in our community are reeling, and fearful for their personal safety and that of their families. We must now deal with a president who we found “deplorable” as a candidate, and the challenge that both houses of Congress are controlled by conservative Republicans. The Vice President-elect is a known evangelical extremist, homophobe and transphobe. We come to the reality that this truly is a nation divided. That many of our ‘friends,’ neighbors and family members voted for divisiveness, fear mongering, segregation and discrimination. And to the realization that half of our beloved America believes in a ticket that espouses xenophobia, transphobia, demeaning women and intolerance of diversity.

The crosshairs of discrimination are now trained on the Transgender community. We can either be frozen in fear and despair or we can start now to reshape our nation. Returns already show that our young people denounce the divisiveness of this election, and believe in a nation of tolerance, fairness and inclusiveness. That youthful passion is a good start.

What we do in Florida has a direct impact on our national elections. More importantly, what we do in Florida has a direct impact on the quality of the lives of all who live in Florida.

Let us start that movement now. Instead of being reactive, instead of bracing for the hate, instead of positioning for turning back discrimination, let us take the offensive. Let us lock arms with our brothers, sisters and allies and let’s meet the oncoming wave of hate with an advancing wall of collaboration and mobilization.

It is time to put in motion a movement that will change the course of our state, and the direction of our culture. We will be visible advocates and we will educate. We will rise up against bigotry and hatred in any form in any situation. We will not be shut out of society or segregated in public places.

In the end we will prevail. Right always prevails. By choosing the difficult right instead of the easy wrong we can and we will make a difference for ourselves and for generations to come.

Florida House Rep. Scott Plakon

scottplakonOn April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln entered Richmond, Va., which had just fallen to the Federal forces. General Weitzel, the commanding officer, asked President Lincoln how the citizens, who had just seen their city taken over, should be treated.

President Lincoln responded, “If I were in your place I’d let ‘em up easy, let ‘em up easy.”

To my Republican friends: Many of our friends are disappointed, sad and even very upset at the results of the election. We should follow the example of President Lincoln to be gracious and “Let ‘em up easy.”

To my Democrat friends: In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton said of Donald Trump that “we owe him an open mind.” Donald Trump was far from my first choice to be president, but now that he will be our president, I believe that we should all heed this advice. I somehow suspect that both the political left and right might be in for some surprises.

There has been a lot of division in our country in recent years. By being kind and gracious in winning and respectful, optimistic and hopeful in losing, perhaps this may be an opportunity to heal some wounds, bring greater understanding and move more toward our shared ideal of being the United States of America.

Former Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe

bobpoeLosing sucks!

And then—because this isn’t the end, it’s just a moment in time—you have to figure out what to do next. What’s next for you may not be the same as it is for me, and that’s ok. There are some who will need to raise their voices loud in protest. Others will want to start quietly, but deliberately, planning for the future. And even a few will need to step back and take a well-needed rest. Whatever it is that you need to do, go do it.

We need a strong and vocal opposition to any, and every, attempt to roll back all the progress we’ve made and to protect our future. We’re not done by any means. We need people who can guide our existing institutions and organizations in the right direction. We need others to start new organizations.

We need candidates, campaign managers, field directors, fundraisers and donors, large and small. We need new people with fresh ideas and we need seasoned veterans with an institutional memory of the past.

We need those who are tired and battle weary to rest and get healthy. We’ll have more than enough for them to do when they are good and ready.

We need everyone in their way and time.

There’s no single pathway out of this dark wilderness. Everyone has different talent, interests and strengths. So, respect those who may choose a different way than you.

Find your passion and the best way to express it. Then find other like-minded people to join you. This is going to be a long and difficult journey. So, don’t go it alone.

I’m reminded of the African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”

Local organizer and former congressional candidate Susannah Randolph

susannahrandolphDon’t mourn. Organize. Losing sucks (trust me I know).

But remember that in politics, losing isn’t permanent. You lose until you win again which means that we all must dig down DEEP, find that small, flickering flame of fight and start feeding it.

There is no doubt that we will be horrified by the statements, policies and initiatives that happen in the next year. There is no doubt that we will hear the voices of hate, taunting us and reminding us that we lost this round.

Do not lose hope. They want us to hide, they want us to retreat, they want us to fade into the background and be passive.

Now is the time to love harder, be louder, act more, and stand strong.

The only time you are guaranteed to lose is when you stop fighting. And I’m not stopping. Neither are you. Go eat. Sleep. Meditate and breathe.

Tomorrow, we fight on. Tomorrow we organize. Tomorrow will be our finest moment yet.

Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida Anna Eskamani

annaeskamaniFor 100 years, Planned Parenthood has faced challenges and attacks from people opposed to our mission to provide full access to sexual and reproductive health care. Through every attack we have come out stronger and we plan to use that same strength to lead in the coming days, months and years — both for the patients who rely on us and for our allies across progressive movements.

We have been dealt a serious blow in the election of Donald Trump and my heart aches for the fact that our nation has elected an individual who has made a career off oppressing those who already have so little and face systematic oppression each day. As a woman of color to immigrant parents, I feel rejected by a nation that my family came to in search of a better life. Despite this, I know that there is power to find in my pain. And when the going gets tough, the tough get tougher. We need to remember that change will not come with a quick burst of energy or enthusiasm. It comes with a consistent persistence for something greater than ourselves.

In these moments, we have all a choice: Do we let callousness win, or compassion? Do we tune out, or do we engage? Shut down, or stand up? I always stand up against bigotry and hate to create a nation that is rooted in both peace and justice and I invite you to join me. We need you now and will train you on how to push back against potential federal attacks but also against what we know will be an aggressive legislative session in Tallahassee too.

Congressman-elect Darren Soto

darrensotoElection night was a bitter sweet victory for all of us on the Soto Campaign.I had just made history as the first Florida Puerto Rican elected to Congress.Yet we all watched with fear and disbelief as much of the country, including our great State of Florida went red, electing Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.

In response, we must first maintain some hope that hyperbole on the campaign will yield to a moderated and more focused agenda as the country comes together. Second there are several areas of common ground that I believe we can achieve progress on including recalibrating trade deals to better benefit American workers, passing a broad infrastructure bill to upgrade America’s roads, bridges, railways and ports, enacting corporate tax reforms to bring trillions in revenue back into the US an finally get serious about paying down our $20 trillion national debt.

There will obviously be areas of serious disagreement.We must continue to vigorously protect equality for all Americans regardless of race, religion, sex, disability or sexual orientation.We must fight against turning back the clock on women’s reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work, fight against reversing LGBTQ rights to marry and against discrimination, fight against ending civil and voting rights of ethnic minorities, and stop the creation of a religious test for entrance into our country.We must fight for our immigrant populations to ensure they are treated humanely and not cast out in a massive deportation.We must remain committed to our allies to protect democracy, liberty and freedom around the world.

I promise a greater hope awaits us in the next American chapter if we work together!

House Rep.-elect Carlos Guillermo Smith

carlossmithWe cannot give up, especially after everything we have been though. We can NEVER STOP challenging homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. In fact, our commitment to disarming bigotry and uprooting hatred must be stronger than ever. I accept the results of the Presidential election because this is our democracy. But just because Trump won, without the popular vote, does not mean we will accept the normalization of misogyny and racism. We need to be vocal and stand up to the bullies and bigots who may feel emboldened by this election. They are not the majority. We need to be unapologetic about who we are and unafraid to call out hate whenever we see it.

Yes, Trump won Florida by stoking white fears of a brown menace, of Latinos and Muslims swarming our borders. But Orlando overwhelming rejected that message of hate. Hate didn’t trump love here. Voters in Orange turned out and voted for Hillary at a higher rate than they did for Obama in 2012. That’s Orlando United! Stephanie Murphy ousted a right wing incumbent of 23 years by building a strong coalition of local LGBT leaders who stood with her as they lambasted Mica for his support of the gun lobby after Pulse. That’s huge. We made history with with my race by electing Florida’s first and only LGBT Latino legislator. Winning that seat at the table for the QLatinx community is truly groundbreaking and it happened at a time when we need it most.

The seeds we’ve planted here have grown into a progressive movement ready to make real change. We are a community ready for action and we need to come together in the same way that we did after Pulse. I don’t know what Trump’s next move will be, but let’s all agree that if he continues his scapegoating of minorities, that we in Orlando will be his worst nightmare.

Congresswoman-elect Stephanie Murphy

stephaniemurphyNo doubt the 2016 presidential election did not turn out the way many of us expected. But, just because the election is over doesn’t mean we should give up. We should channel our frustrations into electing candidates at all levels of government who reflect our values and our principles. That is the most effective way we can make our community a stronger, more inclusive place to call home.

Meanwhile, here in the greater Orlando community, we did a pretty incredible thing. We elected three diverse and pro-equality candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives with Val Demings, Darren Soto and myself.

I am honored and humbled by the trust and faith the people of central Florida have placed in me to represent them in the U.S. Congress. I am also proud that our campaign gave a voice to the true values and priorities of central Florida, which is ultimately why we won.

I entered the race for Congress in the weeks after the Pulse tragedy because I had had enough of the dysfunction and deadlock in Congress, particularly in relation to gun laws and LGBTQ rights. I was so moved when Pulse survivors, families of those killed, and activists joined our campaign for change, security and equality – along with the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. Our coalition came together to turn moments of silence into moments of action so that no family and no community would ever experience what we did here in Orlando.

Throughout the election, we said our campaign was about more than just making a difference – it was also about making a point. Our point was that elected representatives who consistently vote against equality, commonsense gun safety, and inclusivity will be held accountable to their voting record. And, that’s exactly what we did.

So, despite what happened in the presidential election, we should be proud of what we accomplished here in Central Florida together. It should give us hope that progressive ideas can still triumph and that hard work can still pay off.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is famously quoted as saying, “The arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” So, let us do everything we can over the next few years to bend that arch a little more toward justice – no matter how long it takes.

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