Who I want for president
2 January 2012
Quoted originally from anonymous, photocopied broadside that was handed around during the 1992 primary season, and which was authored by Zoe Leonard, a member of Fierce Pussy, a lesbian feminist group with roots in Act Up:
I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no airconditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemployed and layed off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.
I’m often struck by how my own students have no idea about how desperate the AIDS crisis was 20 years ago in this country. They have no idea that people like me worried that having sex might kill you. But even if they’re too young to get that part of Leonard’s prose, they can’t help but feel the urgency and fury of the rest of it. I can hardly wait to show this to them — and it makes me want to create an assignment in which they write their own version. I want a new generation of angry students who articulate themselves with bitter clarity when they say aloud, “This is who I want for president.”