Coffee Talk with Susanna Gibson: What Happened and What’s Next

by | Dec 29, 2023 | RICHMOND POLITICS, VIRGINIA POLITICS

It’s a chilly afternoon in the Far West End, and I’m going to meet Susanna Gibson. Just last month, she came within a hair’s breadth of winning a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Her narrow loss was fueled by controversy, ignited by the morality police we endure for reasons beyond me. Unlike the recent scandal surrounding a founder of Moms For Liberty, nothing about Susanna’s predicament screamed “hypocrisy.” All of it screamed breach of privacy.

I wanted to reshape the narrative surrounding her. What was she about? What did we, as constituents, lose in the fire when we failed to measure a politician by their vision? Who did we sacrifice to our red-toothed culture of finger-pointing and lascivious schadenfreude?

I arrived at her home, the kind of house sitcom families live in, at the end of a manicured cul-de-sac. When she opened the door, I was greeted with a big hug and a bright smile. Her two kids were excited and curious about having company, telling me all about what they’re doing today. Even the dog seemed pleasant. In every respect, it’s an environment to aspire to. There’s love in this house, confidence, and safety. It’s striking.

Susanna is tall, blonde, intelligent, with a manner that invites openness and conversation. She’s just generally an easy person to talk to. We sat in her downstairs office, her cross-legged in a swiveling desk chair, a laptop prepared with notes at her fingertips. The walls were festooned with degrees from various colleges. I promised we were going to have a substantive conversation about the issues she advocates for and her motivations to serve her community. And just that.

Christian Detres: Hi Susanna! Great to meet you. Tell us who you are and where you’re coming from.

Susanna Gibson: I’m Susanna Gibson. I’m a nurse practitioner who has been in the Richmond area since 2008, when I moved here from New York. I grew up in Charlottesville and went to UVA, where I pursued a degree in religious studies. I focused on religious history, concentrating on Christianity and African religions. I thought I wanted to go to law school, as many of the Religious Studies majors at UVA do. However, I quickly realized that I did not like studying for the LSAT and decided against it. I have a BA from UVA, a Master’s in Nursing from UVA, and a Bachelor of Science from Columbia University.

I used to volunteer at the UVA Teen Health Center, which was a nurse practitioner-run program. At the time, there were two nurse practitioners, and they did a lot of family planning, sex ed, and first trimester OB work. I thought, “You know what, this is what I’m meant to do with my life.” My grandfather, who was essentially the father figure in my life since I was three months old, became ill. He was in Charlottesville, and I wanted to be closer to him to take care of him. So, I left New York, moved down here, and worked at VCU full-time as an RN. I finished my Master’s at UVA part-time.

CD: That’s a lot of paper for the office walls! Okay, so you’ve come out of school, you’re a nurse now. There would seem to be a wide divide between someone who’s taken that path after having gotten out of law, gone into healthcare with all of the horrors (but also blessings) I’m sure that come from helping people at the moment of their most dire need. Then you come back to local politics? I know, as we discussed earlier, it is not a lucrative profession. It is going right back to the thing that you jumped away from, from your legal career. Everything about that job is centered around legal issues. 

SG: You are the first person that’s ever brought that up and made that connection. 

CD: Well, I’m trying to understand you as a human. There had to have been a close influence in your life to bring you to that path. 

SG: My mom. She’s always been very politically involved. She was Rosalynn Carter’s personal assistant during the primaries in the 1976 election. She traveled the country with the Carters. 

CD: In my opinion, she could not have been around better people. Seriously, like, cheers to them. 

SG: Absolutely. So I grew up with an attorney mother who was very politically engaged and I’m married to an attorney so I can’t get rid of them. Haha. Attorneys everywhere.

CD: So maybe the politician thing is just a valve to open and let some steam out? You have all these legal influences around you to keep that pot of interest boiling. It’s in the air everywhere around you. When you decided to go into politics, was your family like “finally she’s doing it?” How did that go?

SG: Honestly, if you’d asked me even six months before I filed for candidacy if I would go into politics, I would have laughed. I never wanted to be in politics. I think, because, you know, anything that your mom does is inherently not going to be cool, I was predisposed to run from the idea.

I’ve had the same two best friends since I was 10. They’ve always told me I should run for office because I’m always the person trying to get to know people, outgoing, and friendly, genuinely interested in people and such. I’m 40. When I was growing up, there were a few women in politics, but really not many. I internalized and heard I could be anything I wanted, but I didn’t know how I could be effective in that place.

CD: You hit on something interesting there. Yes, there have been potent female politicians for as long as I can remember, albeit a few at a time, seemingly as much as the American attention will endure at once. In America, historically, female politicians can’t be outgoing, friendly, and open. Like they’re not allowed to seem approachable or fun. There has to be a certain sense of guardedness, seriousness. “I’m only a strong woman if I scowl. I’m only a strong woman if that’s all I am. That has to define me.” I don’t believe society gives women politicians the space to be a full, whole person, one that can express affection, levity, or joy. I mean, think of Clinton, Janet Reno, and, oh my god, Bush’s Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. These were very, very respected people. AOC maybe flirts with the outside lane of being ultimately relatable, and look what she gets for it.

Susanna-Gibson-2023
photo courtesy of Susanna Gibson

SG: I think why I would be good at this is because I’m not like the women you cite. I am the person that will come up and hug you. I am warm and genuine and not buttoned up. Women traditionally had to develop that tough exterior or be considered unintelligent, weak emotionally and mentally. It’s a shame because the truth is just the opposite. 

CD: I think it’s definitely gender pronounced on the female side, but I mean, look at Biden. He’s a hugger. He’s been saying that for decades. He’s a hugger. Even he can’t do that anymore. What kind of society would take that from someone? I’m a hugger too. I know you are too and that’s wonderful. How could I exist honestly without being able to express myself naturally? Affection has somehow been turned into a bad thing. 

Our world has taken some weird turns since we were forming our generational culture in the 90’s. We’ve seen the rapid change and thought about gender identities, sexuality, and a genuine normalizing of racial interconnectivity in the 90s and early 2000s’. We still have a long way to go as far as economic equity but I think the interactive nature of our intersectional relationships started going in a great direction. Then we look 20/30 years in the future to now and we’re still arguing, on a basic level, these same issues. We’re backsliding. I think having someone that can speak to the frustrations of dealing with a society that wants to impose their puritanical views and employ traditionalism as moral superiority is crucial right now. 

SG: Well, particularly in Richmond. 

CD: You gave me the story of who you are, where you’re coming from as a human being. You come to this place where you are a new political entity. What do you feel that you would have been bringing to our city government had you won your race?

SG: When I first graduated from nurse practitioner school, I was working at VCU as an RN. I had a few different job offers. The one that I was most excited about, and ultimately took, was providing primary care for people who were homebound, making house calls. We were not fancy. We were on the ground floor of North Hospital, the oldest VCU hospital building. Cinder block walls, no windows. We were the redheaded stepchild of the hospital system. I went in and out of people’s homes in the Richmond area, taking patients as far as 20 miles from the medical center. I did that for years and really fell in love with our community. When you do that particular type of work and frequently enter people’s homes, they tell you things they wouldn’t have told you if you saw them in a clinic. You see things you couldn’t otherwise. You get to know their environments.

A lot of my patients were indigent. Not all, but the large majority. It was very hard emotionally. I mean, I used to have to call Adult Protective Services so many times the operators knew me by my first name. I saw so much elder abuse and neglect. I really got to understand the reality of challenges that people in our area are facing. I can’t tell you how many times I’d go see someone and they’d be having shortness of breath, a fever, or whatever. I’d get a mobile image and it would show my patient has pneumonia. So, I’d respond with, “Okay, let me bring you this $4 medication. I’ll set up the pharmacy delivery. I’ll come deliver it to you today.” These are people who can’t leave their homes without significant difficulty. And they’d say, “Well, can it wait till next week? I don’t have $4 until I get my check.” It happened all the time. But I got to witness this firsthand.

When I got into this, I was lucky to be in a position to do this financially. I got into it because I saw a path towards fixing healthcare in Virginia. I saw the interconnectedness and the intersectionality of healthcare, transportation, and affordable housing. But because of the way the General Assembly is set up, you are considered part-time. You’re in session two months a year. For the rest of the year, you’re in committee meetings. So, you’re going from committee meeting to meeting with constituents – a full-time job but only compensated as part-time. This particular setup encourages rich, retired men to want the job. Virginia has had limited representation for so long. This system really has prohibited anyone who’s not independently wealthy, or anyone who has dependents, or has to financially support themselves, from aspiring to represent Richmond in this position. You can’t provide for your family and be a delegate unless you are already rich and have a lot of free time. You can’t do both. It’s very hard for those brave enough to try anyway. I think that’s a perspective that a lot of people in the General Assembly have no idea of.

CD: I think academically they know. You know, and that’s interesting, because there is a difference between ignorance and malfeasance right? But when your candidate pool to fill that job are what you described – basically people who can take a year or two off with nominal pay, you get people that have little direct experience with the problems their constituents face. I’m not saying that there aren’t good people in that bracket, but people who have good intentions can also simply miss the mark. Miss the point because they have no context for the issues in front of them. 

SG: I’m sure I’ve missed the point at times. 

CD: But that’s the thing, though. That’s on a scale, you know? It’s on a spectrum. You can miss the point “this” much, or you can miss the entire point. None of us are all-knowing. There are plenty of people who’ve lived the hardest, hard-scrabble lives, those who ‘pick themselves up by their bootstraps’, which is a ridiculous idiom – but they will miss the point on something else they don’t know about, you know? Things their experience doesn’t prepare them to really fathom. I don’t think the voting populace has any misunderstanding about that. No one’s going to have everyone’s experience, and that’s fine.

One of the things I picked up on when I was speaking to Andreas Addison earlier this week was what you’re talking about now. You’re picking apart a system that has closed its borders to the vast majority of people. The system imposes these limitations by only making these positions available to those who can financially endure it. That is not a topic I think most people consider when they confront what’s ailing their local government. How come it’s always a rich old white person?

SG: That’s by design. 

CD: Well, of course it’s by design. I mean, obviously. I think that’s the kind of thing I try to wrap my head around. *laughing* Why do these all white guys like each other so much? Have they met each other? Honestly, what are they protecting here? Do they really feel that only those people can make decisions? It’s ridiculous. It’s an absurd question for an even more bonkers situation. 

SG: Even though a lot of women still feel like that. I mean, it’s very, very, very deeply ingrained systemic misogyny and patriarchal culture that I mean, even as women we tend to subconsciously internalize – like if I said, I went and got to see my doctor you’re automatically thinking okay, old white man. 

CD: So, off topic a little bit but I would love to broach since I have a healthcare provider here in you. I’ll grab the opportunity to ask. This is something that my wife has brought up to me. She’s a 40 year old brown woman who has had the most frustrating experiences with doctors and not being taken seriously as a patient.

SG: All the time. 

CD: There are things that I can go and get a prescription for that she seems to have to jump through hoops and over explain herself to get. She gets treated as if she needs to prove, in successive and repetitive questions, her symptoms. I can describe what I need between jokes and small talk with the assurance I’m gonna walk out of that office with what I need. I’ve seen this happen. She comes home frustrated from doctor’s appointments all the time. If you needed to write a prescription for that deeply embedded misogyny, where would you start?

SG: Can I just burn it all down? Hahaha

CD: Well that even leads to a better question. How do we burn it down strategically? You know you can stop a forest fire by getting ahead of it and control burning a ring around it. When it reaches the border of the pre-burned area, it gets trapped. There’s nowhere for it to go. Burning it down is compelling. I mean, I grew up punk. Burning it all down has always been an option. But I really do like traffic lights and working sewers/electrical grids. Sue me. So from your perspective, how would you start to burn it down without leaving us even more vulnerable than we are now?

SG: I’d take a multi-faceted approach. As I mentioned, changing our compensation structure for the General Assembly, which is not the most popular thing to talk about. People think, well, you want to give yourself a raise. Well, no. I want us to pay them a living wage. I think it should be a full time year round job. So more good faith actors with change on their agendas can access those positions of power. You start having a more representative government of people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. So it’s not just retired white men. And so it’s not just a bunch of attorneys. You get educators. You get social workers. You get nurse practitioners etc.

I was just talking to someone about violence and abuse towards women, particularly women in politics, and the intolerance for any perceived imperfection in them. Currently, or in their past. The amount of harassment and abuse women in politics get in particular, discourages them from running. They decide to silence themselves because they don’t want to be abused. When you pick people apart for every little thing that they’ve ever done, it creates a much shorter list of people who are gonna run for office right? You wind up with only the people who’ve never bothered to live, to take risks, for the fear some operative somewhere is peeking in their blinds. 

CD: Well, nobody ever bothers to describe the reasoning for a raise. In fact, I’ve always said, just in similar conversations, that we should pay United States Senators and Reps each a million dollars a year. We can afford that. Give them a million dollars a year so that when they go into some meeting with some corporation, they’re the most powerful person in the room. Because they don’t give a rat’s ass about your donation. 

You can fix campaign finance reform so that all the things that politicians have to do come from public funds. Fuck, spend it. We have the money. We can afford it. If the result of spending that money means that we take power away from oligarchs in our country, and put it back in the hands of the people who actually are trying to make a life, then I’m for it. 

SG: So they’re not groveling for money.  So that idea has actually been tossed around a little bit. Talk about making campaigns publicly funded. To level the playing field for people. Also, as a candidate, what was surprising for me was that the most important thing I could be doing for the past year and a half, especially up in the front end, was fundraising. Fundraising so I would have enough money to communicate with voters. So I could pay for TV ads. So I could pay for the mail campaign. It’s all exorbitantly expensive. You end up spending a large majority of your time not being out in your community talking to voters. So you’re asking them for stuff. You’re not telling them what you could do for them. You’re asking them to support you. Cold calling, begging for money all day long. 

Sometimes those relationships yield positive results. You meet wonderful people, but it is not how in my opinion, your representatives should be spending their time. They should be spending time in the community trying to understand the reality of the challenges people are facing. What actually impacts people on the street they live on? What do they care about? What can you fix? How can you help them when they need it? You can’t do that if you’re spending all your time begging people for money.

CD: No, of course not. I think that’s been said many times over. The last time I heard it said eloquently, I think, was by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She was speaking dejectedly about her realization upon being in Congress. She immediately figured out that the most time-consuming portion of the job was fundraising for the next election. She discovered they spend most of their time, not some of it, not 50%, but most of it, asking people for money. It’s a double-edged sword, too. It takes away from the time the politician has to actually even ponder the problems facing us, but it also makes us distrust them. Just the insinuation that your representatives are panhandling for likes is gross. I get fundraising mail from politicians, and I hate it, even if I agree with them. You know, I think the last thing I got was from Raskin. I’m on his mailing list, evidently. Now, I love the guy. I love how he’s handling himself in the situations he’s up against. But if the only conversation he has for me is to ask me for money? You want me to give you money???

SG: Money raising becomes a horse race. It becomes news in and of itself. Like it’s a video game. “So and so only raised $8 million or so and so raised $50 million.” And that’s how we interact with the politicians who should be figuring out how we could keep more of our money. You know, I feel like the system itself has a pox. There’s a cancer and the problem is self replicating. Simply put, the more money you throw at it, the more problems there are. It’s just throwing the money onto a fire to put out the fire you’re throwing the money on.

CD: I think it establishes an improper relationship between the supplicants in the applicant, It doesn’t necessarily imply that the politician is going to give them something illicit in exchange for a donation. It will, however, make sure that the politician will pick up the phone if you’ve given. 

SG: Exactly, because they need another $10,000. They’re always going to need another $10,000 And that conversation is always predicated upon that $10,000 coming in. Again, you’re talking to someone who is good at fundraising. 

CD: It is frustrating because it doesn’t do anything to solve any problem that we have. There’s a mild irritation that’s gotten to a fever pitch, with politics in general. We used to be able to have some kind of respect, begrudging if necessary, but respect nonetheless, for political statespersons, left or right. Now they’re clowns. They’re not even pretending to be intelligent people. They’re fucking clowns. And we’re tired of it. I think for any politician out there that’s, you know, really trying to connect in this way, needs to address this. We have a great deal of well meaning people just trying to make a living that are sick and tired of everyone in that profession. How do you change that? How do you approach that anger? 

SG: Oof.

CD: Hahaha, I’m not gonna make it easy. 

SG: One of the things that I found door knocking – because I knocked a ton of doors, 100 doors a day, every single day for the last two months of my campaign – was that it came up more than a few times. So many times I would hear, “I don’t trust any of you.” I think that’s where term limits come into play, too. I don’t really have an expanded answer for that.

I am a real person who never wanted to be in politics. I just got really upset about healthcare. The overturning of Roe was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I’ve always been passionate about women’s health, reproductive health, and sex ed. I went back to school to be a nurse practitioner so that I could work in that specialty, in particular. And when Roe was overturned, I just got really angry. I had to look around and ask myself, what is the most impactful thing I can do right now? Because I already volunteer. What can I do that will actually do something to protect abortion rights in Virginia for my daughter, for the girl across the street, for my best friend, right?

CD: And for countless 1000s of strangers you’ll never meet or talk to.

SG: I looked around and was like, “Oh, that’s an open seat. It’s likely going to be the majority ‘make or break’ vote in the house. The people we elect in there are going to be the ones who decide about reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy. You know what? Let me do that.”

CD: It’s a brave move. I think you may have done something even greater just by running and having the controversy that was thrust upon you. Hear me out. You’ve made a jump that lets other non-shame-based, humanistic people make that jump with a little more security, with a little more confidence.

SG: The people who can blithely survive that gauntlet without crashing against the puritanical society are the ones that haven’t lived, the ones that haven’t taken risks. They have always followed the straight and narrow. They make calculated moves in a direction that moves them forward. It doesn’t move the people they serve. It moves them in a direction.

CD: I think you make a good point. What talent would we be able to draw from if we were able to remove leadership from hypocritical, provincial scrutiny? If we could take those two things apart and say, “Well, what does this person want to do with the job? Go home and do whatever you want there. I don’t care. But when you’re here, doing this job, what are you doing? What are you trying to do?” You’ve answered that question, I think, numerous times in different ways today.

I take you as an example. I think of your focus coming through healthcare and a platform stressing women’s reproductive rights. I also think about the seat that you were seeking being a tiebreaker in the House of Delegates, a very crucial tiebreaker which put you in the national spotlight. But here you are answering for matters irrelevant to most voters. Even the hypocrites that scream the loudest don’t care. Who was it? The Moms for Liberty lady? She and her husband having threesomes – which, more power to ya! Have a great time! But you’re going to bring some ghost morality you don’t even adhere to in the public square and ban books that mention homosexuality? I mean…

Susanna-Gibson-2023
photo courtesy of Susanna Gibson

SG: I never pretended to be bound by anyone’s claimed virtues.

CD: Who cares? It’s becoming more and more prevalent that people do not give a shit, and they shouldn’t. It’s not their business. Just don’t be a hypocrite. That’s really one of the things people really wish their politicians could finally get through their heads. I know the barking of pearl-clutchers doesn’t make it easy for them sometimes but really, just don’t be a hypocrite. That’s it. Just don’t be a hypocrite. If you really feel that this shouldn’t happen or this is the way things should be, then go for it. If you don’t, stop saying you do. Oh my god, just stop saying you do.

SG: There is a Republican delegate here, and she and I don’t know each other. I was out to dinner the other night with someone who works in Virginia politics. And we were having a conversation about a Republican delegate who is very vocally anti-abortion. And the person was saying essentially, “Well, that’s what she says, but her personal opinion is different.” It blows my mind that people can feel and have a personal opinion that’s so different from what they tell the general public. Then write legislation and vote on legislation –

CD: -that would affect them personally –

SG: -that is completely opposed to their private, true, lives. That’s why I knew if I decided to do this, I was going to be good. Because I wasn’t in it to have a career in politics. I vote my conscience, and I’ve always been the type of person to, like, if I don’t know something, I’ll tell you. I’ll figure it out and get back to you because I’m trained in healthcare where you can’t make a mistake without potentially causing serious harm. You don’t know something, you say you don’t know.

CD: “I don’t know” is probably one of the most important sentences when it comes to actually fixing problems? Because then you find someone who knows. You don’t know how to fix this poverty issue? Well, who knows about poverty? How about poor people? You know, maybe we should talk to them. What problems are they up against?

The system is changing regardless of what the Puritans of the nation may want. It’s changing. It’s already inevitable. It’s happening. Their boats are sinking, and there’s no way to save them. They can yell louder, throw bigger stones, but you know, stand far enough out of range and they’ll sink and you don’t have to worry about them anymore. 

They’re making a last gasp and it’s incumbent upon Progressives to figure out how to confront the mad panic of a dying ideology. I’m glad this is going here because I wanted to bring up the question “centrists” and apologists love to ask: “Why can’t we just get along? Why can’t we agree to disagree?” As a brown man, I’m going to say that there are certain things that we are not going to “disagree” on anymore. There are certain things that are beyond conversation. 

These “differences” we have are on racial equality and misogyny, gay and lesbian rights, human rights, whether or not an immigrant should be shot as they cross the border, or whether or not we put kids in cages. In cages. Children in cages. It should be very fucking clear there’s not going to be a dialogue. 

There’s this thing that I want to shake and slap the Left about. There’s a myth that there’s a central component of the Republican Party that’s going to vote Democrat if you just don’t rile them up about ‘blacks’, Jesus, or immigration. So, we’re going to avoid pounding our fists on the table to not sour this supposed rational middle who may be “just a little racist”. But these are pound-my-fist-on-the-table problems. It’s upsetting when our representatives don’t take a moral stance on something that is clearly beyond conversation. And, you know, call it like it is. Stop trying to give those people a seat at our table. Don’t try to get those votes. There are plenty of people on the Left that don’t vote because of that pandering to the Center, and they’re much easier to align with. Arrrghh. Sigh. Trying to get the tail out of the snake’s mouth is the hardest part of it all.

I could literally sit here and talk to you all freaking day about stuff like this. What can we expect from you going forward? What are we looking forward to with Susanna Gibson as a player in our local politics and, or just, you know, the infrastructure of activism?

SG: You know, it’s just so crazy how fast life can change in every way. When Roe v. Wade was overturned, it was the very end of June. I filed my paperwork for my candidacy July 27. I’ve learned never say never and to be open to every possibility. What I’m really focused on and still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with this spotlight. I have some ideas. I really want to be in the advocacy space, particularly around non consensual dissemination of intimate images and image-basedsexual abuse. What that looks like and where that niche space is, because it’s something that not a lot of people focus on but it’s huge.

CD: Well, it’s definitely gonna be an emerging factor for coming generations. That’s gonna be a massive, massive issue. There have to be so many talented people worthy of leadership that will think twice about making themselves that vulnerable to transgressive scrutiny. 

SG: I get phone calls and emails from all over the country saying “Oh my God, I’ve been watching what’s happened to you!” Yeah, “I’m horrified” or “I’m running for office down in Florida, and I’m terrified that the same thing is gonna happen to me.” Yeah. “What can you do? Can you help me? Do you have advice?” It is going to become more and more frequently a problem, but we really need to change our society’s understanding of the severity and extent of harm and damage that is done by invading someone’s intimate privacy. So there’s a place for me in that space for sure. I’m looking at starting a legal fund or a nonprofit to support, in particular, female candidates, but to include marginalized communities in general – women in general, women of color especially, the LGBTQ plus community. They are disproportionately affected by rumor, innuendo, and prurient interest in their social lives. 

A week after the election, my kids were out of school, so I took them and the dog to Bryant Park. I was just kind of standing on the periphery of the playground watching the kids play. There were three little girls that came over at different points and they said, “Are you Susanna Gibson?” So they had seen me on TV and in their mailbox and you could see their eyes were sparkling. They were so excited to meet me. That admiration is very motivating. Helping younger people run for office and supporting them in whatever way I can is a goal. 

CD: I truly believe the height at which you hold your head high now is going to be fuel, ammunition, for every young woman that wants to achieve a position of responsibility while living their best life they way they only know how, with whomever they choose, however they choose. Your experience is going to set the tone for how they achieve escape velocity from the ancient and tired puritanism we endure currently. They’re going to come in hot, confident, I think, in no small part based on your grace in this situation. 

SG: Thank you for saying that.

CD: I’m glad that it’s complimentary but one of the reasons I was very interested in speaking to you, is because I recognized that one fact. I was like, Oh my God, how this woman stands in the face of this hypocrisy can be at the heart of our progress in changing how the intimate lives of public figures are even approached – or not approached at all. 

For Christ’s sake, the most popular politician in this freaking country, Donald Trump, is literally a rapist. Convicted. He should be, by their own measure, the absolute worst example of what you should be for. When you consider that that’s their choice, you immediately can discount anything they have to say about yours, mine, or anyone’s “morality”. They only care about it when they want to convince other people that they should care about it. It’s an outrage button that the sanctimonious come running to whenever it’s pressed for them. They don’t really care. I hope you take that as some sort of encouragement. 

SG: It was inevitable that this was gonna happen to someone as more women, LGBTQ+ individuals, millennials and Gen Z run for office (or something along those lines). it happened to be me and thank God it was. Okay. I’m bullheaded. I have developed a lot of mental strength and a really good ability to compartmentalize. My hope is that I’ve taken some of the brunt off of the next generation of leaders and that I can continue to make things easier for them. I’d like to encourage real people with real backgrounds, real histories, who have made mistakes, or who refuse to look at their joy as a mistake to run for office. That’s really my focus right now. Doing that in particular. 

In the meantime, I will continue to go downtown and lobby for gun safety legislation in addition to abortion rights, and health care, medication affordability, and affordable housing. That is my passion. 

END

Susanna had to get ready to drive up to DC so I stopped the recorder and spoke offline a bit. She was to appear on CNN that evening to do yet another interview centered around her run-in with snooping, pervy, conservatives. I left hoping this conversation makes it easier to ignore the hate and boldly pursue justice and reason, compassion and, well, minding your own damn business. 

Christian Detres

Christian Detres

Christian Detres has spent his career bouncing back and forth between Richmond VA and his hometown Brooklyn, NY. He came up making punk ‘zines in high school and soon parlayed that into writing music reviews for alt weeklies. He moved on to comedic commentary and fast lifestyle pieces for Chew on This and RVA magazines. He hit the gas when becoming VICE magazine’s travel Publisher and kept up his globetrotting at Nowhere magazine, Bushwick Notebook, BUST magazine and Gungho Guides. He’s been published in Teen Vogue, Harpers, and New York magazine to name drop casually - no biggie. He maintains a prime directive of making an audience laugh at high-concept hijinks while pondering our silly existence. He can be reached at christianaarondetres@gmail.com




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