People gather at the Supreme Court to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Washington. Credit: Cliff Owen / AP

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Kyle Hylan-Corcoran of Bangor is a senior majoring in political science and criminal justice at American University.

The loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is tragic for most people in this country. However, for us in the LGBTQ community, this is the next chapter in a horrific game of political football that will determine how we are treated for the coming decades.

I envy those who can afford to remain apolitical or apathetic about politics but we do not have that privilege and here’s why:

The Supreme Court and Democratic politicians said I could marry who I love and delivered that for me. Some Republicans want to pass a constitutional amendment to ban it.

The Supreme Court and Democratic politicians say I shouldn’t be discriminated against at my job. Many Republican politicians incite moral panics around who we accommodate in certain spaces be that housing, jobs, health care, the military or other places.

Democratic politicians believe there should be no prejudice at all against me or people in my community and welcome us into their ranks. Republicans aren’t likely to be nominated if they come out as LGBT and they often insist that the religious beliefs of one person have complete dominion over millions of people their religion says are sinners and abominations.

I cannot speak for any other person in any other community, but I can say that your vote has measurable effects on people, even if that person isn’t you. Know that voting for certain people is harmful to your loved ones and can ruin relationships because your choices make our lives feel devalued.

If you find out you’ve hurt a loved one, don’t gaslight them. It was not just a vote. It was a statement saying “you don’t matter.” Even if you insist that you don’t hate LGBTQ people, we know hate for LGBTQ people wasn’t a deal breaker for you. You were willing to tolerate that in exchange for other priorities: taxes, immigration, ending political correctness, whatever makes your blood boil.

I personally don’t believe in being impolite to people who vote differently than me, but I also don’t feel safe enough to express myself authentically in those people’s presence. I may enjoy interacting with certain conservative people, but I don’t let my guard down because I don’t trust those people not to hurt me if I do let my guard down.

I don’t expect a lot of people to understand that, because a lot of people don’t have to deal with hate as a general background to life. Most people don’t have to worry about being the next Matthew Shepard or have to scrutinize every new person we meet to see if they would respond well to our romantic partners. Most people do not feel they have to deal with the unintended consequences of populist politicians riling up their base in a way that threatens our safety.

For people who may think I take things too personally, I wish I didn’t have to. But unfortunately the world we live in has hatred in it and it is a key feature in many political campaigns. I can’t change who I am nor do I want to. I would love to just quibble about tax rates, but that is not the world that currently exists. I don’t have the choice to be apolitical because my mere existence is political.