A New Normal

by Alphonso David

Remarks as delivered at the Human Rights Campaign's Time for Equality Live! event on April 22, 2021.

I received my second vaccine shot last week. The relief and excitement I felt — it was like passing the bar exam and finding out Lawrence Chaney won “UK Drag Race” all rolled into one.

As more and more people begin to get vaccinated, we are beginning to see a way to what some are calling “back to normal."

I am certainly excited for the possibilities in the months ahead – to be able to hug my best friend, to be able to go see a live performance, to have dinner with family without fear of the virus.

But I don’t want to get back to normal nor do I think it is possible or something we should be striving towards.

Because normal — in this nation — doesn’t work.

I don’t want a normal where trans and non-binary kids are targets for the forces of hate.

I don’t want a normal where lawmakers are trying to breathe new life into Jim Crow’s ongoing legacy.

I don’t want a normal where gun violence is commonplace.

I don’t want a normal where Black people have their lives taken and turned into hashtags.

I don’t want a normal where (because of who we are — trans, non-binary, Black, or AAPI) we don’t feel safe leaving our homes.

I don’t want a normal where justice is treated as an optional feature to our democracy and where our rights and welfare are used as bargaining chips by the powerful.

None of this should be normal. And none of it has to be.

If last year taught us anything, it is that normal is what we define it to be. There is no reset button on our lives. But there are lessons learned, next chapters, and new opportunities.

So tonight, rather than get held up by visions of what our lives used to be, let’s invest instead in a vision of what our world can be: A new normal where we see each other, listen to each other, show up for each other, effectively see each other’s humanity. We have a chance to remake our world as we step back into it, and we should.

Right now, we have a pro-equality White House, the most diverse administration in history, and a pro-equality Congress ready to advance progress. That means passing the Equality Act. That means passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. That means passing legislation to address gun violence and over-policing.

This progress is possible because of you. And in case you may have forgotten – you, yes you – quite literally saved our democracy. It was the blood, sweat and tears we expended to seize back our democracy.

We are so grateful to each and every one of you — and for all that you do — day in and day out to advance equity for all. In unity and in community, we are a mighty force.

And there is much work for us to do.

To defeat white supremacy once and for all.

To break down our silos and embrace our collective humanity.

To show up for our trans and non-binary family like never before.

To see beyond ourselves.

To get to the north star of true liberation.

As Angel said in Pose, “The world doesn’t change. People change it.”

Our lives have already been forever changed.

Let’s use this next chapter to define a new normal.