Racist slurs. Sexist attacks. Hateful rhetoric. What do these things have in common? They can all be found at a Donald Trump rally. It frankly doesn’t matter who you support, whether you lean left or right, whether you like Trump or not—if you have a moderate bone in your body, you can agree that the hate found at these rallies is unacceptable.
So, naturally, we went to a Trump rally.
A majority of comments seemed to assume that we were solely there to support an opposing candidate. In reality, we were primarily there to show the possibility of a peaceful discourse against the typical Trump supporter in what has been an extremely polarized election season.
It didn’t seem to matter what we were actually there for, though, because we could feel the hate radiating off of people as their attacks got more personal and less related to any campaign.
We shouldn’t have to be afraid to walk alongside people while holding a sign that reads, “Peace. You either create it or destroy it.”
We shouldn’t be objectified by every person who feels the need to scream at me about my appearance, my outfit and my body.
We shouldn’t be told that my opinions, my thoughts and my voice don’t matter.
To the woman who got up in our faces, screaming about how terrible we are for being “pro-abortion,” for “selling baby parts,” for “actively participating in the murder of babies every day,” thank you for reminding me of all of those times where women just like me had sex, clearly, with the sole intention of getting an abortion the very next day. How could we forget that?
To the man who stormed toward us with his hands balled into fists, ready to insult our intelligence, our dignity and our worth as human beings, thank you for clarifying that we are in fact “dirty sluts.” We have been waiting for your validation specifically for a long time now.
And don’t worry, your misogynistic views were crudely reiterated by the woman who told us to “keep our legs closed” in order to “stop the need for abortions.” She was also so kind as to inform us that “rape statistics aren’t real.” That’s good to know.
To the dozens of teenage boys who cat-called us, who aggressively shoved their phones in our faces to take photos of us, please take note of our patronizing smirks and the middle fingers that we discreetly flashed you as you happily snapped away.
To the parents who brought their small children (most under the age of 10) and encouraged them to scream hateful comments at us, thank you for raising the future of our country to believe it’s okay to spew hatred at peaceful people when they stand up for themselves and their beliefs.
To the incognito non-Trump supporters who came to shake our hands and thank us for what we were doing, we appreciate you. The fact that you showed up to the rally “to watch the craziness ensue” proves that we aren’t the crazy ones, and other people recognize how ridiculous the whole event truly was.
To the Fox News reporter who stood behind us to make sure that no one got too close or too aggressive, thank you for being a decent human being. You set aside your own political beliefs and leanings to ensure our safety as we exercised our First Amendment rights. Thank you for noticing that when you came too close to us, it seemed to encourage the onslaught of insults and for staying far enough away to not be noticed by most rally attendees.
Once the rally started and we moved toward the big screen where the live stream was being projected, six police officers stood between us and the mob that began to gather and gradually moved closer and closer to us, zip-tie handcuffs ready to go for anyone who got too riled up. Thank you to these officers who were willing to put themselves in this situation without complaint or even a dirty look.
Right before Trump began to speak, a young man walked up to us and asked what we were doing out there. He seemed to be worried for our safety. He frequently glanced behind him at the crowd of heated Trump supporters. He warned us that we were going to get killed out there. While we appreciated his concern, nothing was going to stop us from standing up and protesting the perpetuation of hatred and bigotry.
We didn’t attend this rally to protest the conservative platform or any group in particular. We were there to protest the hate that has consumed this country. We were there to encourage peaceful conversations, but no matter how silent we stood or how unobtrusive we were, the hate continued to seek us out.