The last few months in this country have been stressful to say the least. So much negativity going back and forth. Acquaintances "defriending" each other on Facebook. Accusations of being a sexist, racist, or a bigot if you vote one way. Threats of World War III if you vote the other way. Is there any room left to think for yourself?

I wrestled with my decision many times in the final days leading up the election. In fact, I spent five minutes staring at my ballot when I went to vote, wondering if I was making the right decision. In the end, I gave my vote to the candidate I felt would best protect and defend my equal rights. That person did not win. I think you know who I'm talking about.

The day after the election was one of the most surreal 24 hour periods I've ever experienced. It felt fake. People of all ages were in shock. Whether you voted for or against Donald Trump, most of the country did not see this coming. Since then, I've been sad, confused, optimistic, and most of all anxious. But one thing I am not is scared. Many minority groups, including the one I fall into, the LGBTQ community, have come too far to let this defeat them. The LGBTQ community has more allies than ever before. The future of our nation shares your belief that regardless of your gender, skin color, or sexual orientation, you are an American and you matter just as much as anyone else.

What comes next we do not know. Things will not be the same, and we will have a lot more at stake, but we will fight until the bitter end. To those of you who voted for President-elect Trump, something I strongly considered doing until yesterday, I do not hate you. I understand many of the reasons he appeals to you. Not all, but many. Both Hillary Clinton and President Obama have called for a peaceful transition over the next few months, and I think that starts with us coming together as one nation once again for old and new times' sake.

I'm proud to be an American, now and forever.

— Joe Votruba

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