I was never involved in politics growing up.
As in, not at all. My parents didn’t vote, and there was never any dinner-table discussion about current events. I barely even knew how the political system worked; whenever I ventured to inquire, it was deemed as overly complicated, murky, filled with bullshit and people playing dirty. I was raised with a solid “not-my-problem” perspective: let people do whatever the fuck they want and don’t get involved, because it’s not like my opinion would make a difference anyway.
My wake-up call came in college. I was in student government for six out of my eight semesters there, and saw first-hand how the votes and opinions of every single individual in my tiny eight-hundred-person school directly impacted the way the community ran. Although the procedures and stakes are different in national elections, the higher-level concept remains the same: voting is about taking a stand for your personal values and seeing those values being reflected in the system.
The United States’ current political system has been shitting on my personal values since 2016. It’s been an uneasy hum in the background throughout all of my adventures, photoshoots, essays, and major life events. This shit is real and even if I can delude myself into forgetting about it for a while, it’s not going to go away.
Despite all of the work being done to ensure that all human beings — regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, age, or any other differentiating factor — have a chance to achieve their goals in this country, the reality has been bleak. Women/gender-nonconforming folks, people of color and same-sex couples are still regularly silenced and discriminated against by law. We can preach social justice and get into online debates to no end, but there will not be real social change until our system recognizes that all humans have the same fundamental right to a high quality of life.
I talk a lot about how our surroundings have a huge impact on the quality of our lives. This doesn’t just go for physical environment; systems backed by laws and predominant ways of thinking have just as much, if not more, impact on how shit goes down. Ideas dictate actions which dictate circumstance. The way this country is run will have direct impacts on your life, so you may as well have a say on how your life will be affected.
Election Day 2018 is November 6th. If you’re 18 and up in the United States and haven’t registered to vote yet, you can do so here. 
Fuck sitting on the sidelines. Get involved. A few minutes in the polling booth could mean years of your life turning out significantly better. Please fight for your personal values because they’re worth fighting for. ♚