It was eerily similar to meetings held by underground movements in countries across Europe during World War II as they discussed strategies for fighting back against Nazi tyranny.
In the backroom of a small bar in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood Nov. 11, a small group of people representing the LGBTQ umbrella began to create actionable steps in ensuring the safety of the community, undocumented immigrants, Muslims and other minority groups now under threat from a Donald Trump administration, while also drawing up the blueprint designed with the goal of ensuring that neither Trump nor his policies prevail.
"This is a meeting for all of us to collectively get together and pool our resources so that we can stave off the national crisis that we're about to enter," presiding officer Derek Elliott Bagley told Windy City Times. "Over the next four years, we need to make sure that we are governing and protecting ourselves, make our presence known and activate all of the networks we share."
Unlike the "I alone can fix this" totalitarian mantra of Trump, the movement against him began with every person in the room having a voice.
"We can't allow this to be normalized," Bagley said. "We can't allow the media to tell us 'it's going to be OK. Don't worry.' On Tuesday I perceived that the country I knew and its systems of government had been cheapened and destroyed by the election of Donald Trump. As a white, cisgender male, the feeling of unease and terror [are ones] that so many members of our community, especially folks in the trans community, women and people of color have felt for their entire lives."
"This is a wake-up call," he added. "This is not a moment of mourning for what we have lost but what we have exposed about ourselves as Americans. This is the America we've always lived in. At this point, we should be looking at this as an opportunity to come together in solidarity and action. This is our clarion call-to-arms as an LGBTQ community that we have to put aside our differences and start protecting our community and governing ourselves. We have to be able to lift up everyone in our community to stave off the rising tide of terror that we're about to experience."
By the end of the evening, there was as a resolve of creating a unified front as there was a potential for it to grow across communities and potentially beyond Chicago.
"We have a common enemy now," one participant noted. "That alone must bring us together."
Among the suggestions presented were ensuring the safety of LGBTQ youth particularly those living with homelessness, a fund created for those who are robbed of healthcare protections following the repeal of the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ), reaching outside of Chicago to LGBTQ children in small-town America to let them know there are resources available, the formation of a mutual understanding between the people who voted for Trump and those who stand against him, the creation of safe spaces within the Chicago area whether for targeted LGBTQ individuals, queer youth or immigrants facing deportation, acts of civil disobedience and finding and elevating candidates for open Congressional seats in the 2018 midterm elections who could ensure the end of Republican control of the House and Senate and render Trump a lame-duck after only two years in office.
A prevalent theme was coalition building beyond solely LGBTQ organizations. Some of the larger and grassroots organizations suggested included the Black Lives Matter ( BLM ) movement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations ( CAIR ), the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center ( PRCC ) and the Trans Latin@ Coalition.
"The way that Republicans have always governed is to divide minority communities so that we're not in concert with one another," Bagley said. "That's why meetings like this are extremely important so that we can start organizing our individual communities and bridging the gaps between others. The LGBTQ community should be working with the Black and Latino communities so that we're a unit and electing our own to office."
Future meetings are planned across Chicago with a particular focus upon involving communities based in the South and West Sides.
There was the sense that the evening represented the beginning of a brave new world designed to directly combat the prejudice which will soon occupy the White House.