My Political Beliefs Have Cost Me Relationships, And I'm Okay With That

Mary Katherine Backstrom /

I logged into Facebook today, and the scroll down my timeline made me a little depressed. Again.

“On This Day” offered up memories of happy banter with friends who have long since dropped out of my newsfeed (and life). Reading those exchanges and seeing pictures of such carefree times, the loss of those relationships felt significant.

I know why these people have disappeared. It all started during the last election cycle. Our relationships had weathered political changes before. But where we used to nip at one another during the primaries, poking fun at the other person’s candidate, things were different in 2016.

As Election Day neared, these people I loved and respected shocked me by digging their heels in to support an adulterous man who admitted to sexually assaulting women. He even laughed about it. They all did.

It was “locker-room talk” — that was all!

As a victim of sexual assault, I couldn’t fathom any of it. How was it that all along I was surrounded by people who were okay with this crap? And not just his abusive misogyny. The racism, nationalism, and every other nasty ism that Trump had to offer. That was his whole platform.

And they weren’t just okay with it. They cosigned.

They elected the man.

It felt like a betrayal. And I think that’s the day something broke in me.

I used to be a happy-go-lucky type. I realize that. My Facebook page reflected the world of a carefree woman who laughed her way through life. I was a cat video person.

Everybody likes a cat video person.

But I’ll be honest, it’s hard to appreciate a good cat video anymore. Not when the trending topics in my newsfeed are nuclear threats, homophobic legislation, and mass shootings. I’m awake, and I’m angry.

And it’s cost me relationships.

These were friends from my playground days. Friends who roller-skated at my middle school birthday party. Folks from college whom I bonded with over banana pudding binges and Grey’s Anatomy.

They loved me right until the moment I got angry. Then they couldn’t stomach me anymore.

Well, I suppose one solution would be to stop “being political all the time” — a recommendation I get often from loved ones who, I can only assume, have one toe out the door already.

Believe me, the idea of going back to cat videos is appealing.

I miss the times when politics didn’t dominate my posts on social media. I miss the times when I didn’t immediately feel ragey every time I checked the news. I miss being carefree and not paying attention to the world around me.

I miss the days everything felt…lighter.

But then I think about my gay friends. My friends who are immigrants. My friends of color. My friends who are Muslim. I think about all of those friends, and I wonder if life ever felt “light” for them.

It sure as hell isn’t now. I have to consider what a privilege it was to have ever had the ability to be so carefree.

So, no.

I can’t go back to cat videos. No matter what it cost me, I can’t not speak up anymore. I have seen the evil our country is capable of, and I’m forever changed by that knowledge. I can’t go apolitical just to make myself, or my friends, comfortable.

Not until every person in this country is comfortable.

And trust me: I look forward to the day that is the case.

Until then, I will continue speaking up about what I believe is right. I will call out injustices wherever I see them. I do this because I believe I’m on the right side of history. And if that costs me some relationships along the way, well…that is sad.

But I’m okay with it.