Change the World

5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays if Your Family Voted for Trump

Did your family vote for Trump? Feeling betrayed, depressed, hurt, angry, or scared? Finding it difficult to imagine being with your family of origin during the holidays?

This presidential election has certainly brought out the worst in people and in our political institutions. It has shined a huge spotlight on the misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, Islamophobia and xenophobia that continues to exist in the United States.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has accumulated over 400 incidents of increased hateful harassment and intimidation in the first five days after the election and the top three types were against blacks, immigrants and the LGBTQ community. Trump’s demeaning rhetoric has ignited the unresolved bigotry and fear of those not wanting to lose power and privilege.

For LGBTQ people, having historically been neglected, despised, and scapegoated by society-at-large, our collective trauma this election season is palpable. Furthermore, our sexual orientation and gender identity intersects with our race, religion, class, body shape/size/ability, age, and other aspects of who we are that can exponentially trigger experiences of trauma and micro-aggressions against our very beingness. If we are members of multiple oppressed groups we feel these injustices in multiple ways.

If your family voted for Trump, despite his campaign promises that deleteriously impact us, it can leave you feeling emotionally raw and wounded. This lack of unconditional love and support from the people we’ve known the longest and are suppose to be there in these moments is incomprehensible.

Many of us have received calls to give Trump and his white supremacist cabinet a chance, that it won’t be as bad as we fear, that this is part of the democratic process, that they voted for economic changes and are not prejudiced and yet we’ve mostly received very little, if any, actual empathy for what we’ve been forced to endure then and now.

It’s not okay for family to support our oppressors in discriminating against us. And it’s not our job to make family feel more comfortable with their own bigotry. We deserve to have family that will fight with us to protect us from our oppressors and to advance social justice, not sit idly by or encourage us to be passive in response.

So, how do we survive the holidays?

If you’ve reached your limit, are feeling too pummeled by it all, or don’t want to put yourself in harm’s way, the answer may be to spend quality time alone or with your family of choice, instead of with your family of origin. Because LGBTQ people usually don’t come from our own, and we live in a heterosexist and cisgenderist world, it’s been important to create our own family of support. This holiday season might be especially important to spend time with trustworthy like-minded souls who share your political beliefs and values. Giving ourselves the time we need to recover, heal and strengthen our internal resolve to affect positive change in the world is necessary. Choosing this option can be about prioritizing self-preservation at this time.

However, depending on your circumstances, you may decide to spend the holidays with your family of origin. They may be tolerant but not supportive, or friendly but not knowledgeable. Or, they may be situationally hostile. You have a choice whether to initiate or participate in political conversations. You have a choice whether to change the subject, request the conversation end or walk away. There is no one perfect way to respond in all scenarios. It’s case specific.

One of the unenviable aspects of being an oppressed minority, or a disenfranchised majority (aka women), is that we often are placed in the position of having to educate others about our oppression. This can be particularly degrading with family of origin when we hear all around us that “blood is thicker than water” and “family will be there no matter what.” And yet, here we are needing to educate our family about our differences. This is another reason to be thankful for our allies and to be a good ally for others who are different than us. Allies can do some of this important work for us and with us.

Speaking to our family about their vote for Trump, and all that this vote entails, puts us in a very precarious position. Despite our best efforts, the conversation may easily slip into character attacks and hurt feelings. We may unearth sentiments we previously were unaware of. However, confronting this potential conflict can also bring greater understanding and closeness with those open enough and empathic enough to understand how we’re affected by their actions.

5 Tips for Navigating Conversations With Trump-Supporting Family Members:

  • Make “I statements” instead of attacking others—“I feel hurt that you voted for…”
  • State the facts without the moral judgments—“I feel betrayed that you voted for someone who has promised to elect Supreme Court Justices that will reverse marriage equality, selected a VP who has actively discriminated against people like me, promotes conversion therapy, etc…”
  • Listen mindfully to what they have to say instead of what your response will be.
  • Empathize with them—This does not require you to agree, like or respect their actions/beliefs.
  • Make direct requests NOT demands – “Given what I’ve shared and how your vote directly impacts my well-being, I need you to vote differently next time and in the meantime to confront homophobia/biphobia/transphobia when you hear it and to take specific actions to protect my safety and well-being (i.e. donations to social justice organizations, letter-writing, signing petitions, sharing information, volunteering, demonstrations, other non-violent resistance strategies etc).”
  • At the end of the day, no matter how well you articulate your feelings and needs, they may be unwilling to meet them. If your relationship with them is consistently hostile or unsupportive, you may need to set firmer boundaries, including the option of having no contact for a period of time.

    Treat yourself with the compassion and care that you would like to have from them. Surround yourself with kindred souls to replenish your emotional reserves. Be a good ally for others. And remember the famous words by Howard Zinn, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” This Trump train has left the building and is careening toward destruction. Neutrality is complicit with oppression. We must act up and fight for social justice!

    Editor's note: This article was originally published in THE FIGHT magazine and is re-published here with permission.

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    News

    World's First Sperm Bank Opens for HIV Positive Donors

    Sperm Positive, started by three non-profits in New Zealand, hopes to end stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood

    "Our donors have so much to give," say the promotional materials of a new sperm bank. "But they can't give you HIV."

    The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

    The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

    Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

    We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

    Change the World

    'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

    The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

    To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

    "I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

    Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

    The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

    "It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

    Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

    Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

    "It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

    It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

    All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

    Change the World

    9 Stories That Celebrate the Experience of Gay Fathers Living with HIV

    This World AIDS Day, we dug into our archives to find 9 stories that bring awareness to and celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV

    December 1st is World AIDS Day — a day to unite in our collective fight to end the epidemic, remember those we've lost, and bring much needed attention and money to support those who continue to live with HIV and AIDS. For us at Gays With Kids, it's also a time to lift up and celebrate the experiences of fathers, so many of who never thought they'd see the day where they would be able to start families.

    Towards that end, we've rounded up nine stories, family features and articles from our archives that celebrate the experience of gay fathers living with HIV — the struggles, triumphs and everything in between.

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    Shop with a Purpose with Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

    Want to find amazing gift ideas while *also* supporting LGBTQ-owned and allied businesses? Look no further than our 2019 holiday gift guide!

    'Tis the season to show loved ones you care. And what better way to show you care, by also supported our LGBTQ+ community and allies whilst doing it! Shop (LGBTQ+) smart with these great suggestions below.

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    Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

    A Newly Out Gay Dad Feels 'Demoted' After Divorce

    Cameron Call showed up to his first family Thanksgiving since coming out and getting a divorce — and struggles to find himself "stuck with the singles."

    Cameron Call, who came out in summer 2019, has generously agreed to chronicle his coming out journey for Gays With Kids over the next several months — the highs, lows and everything in between. Read his first article here.

    Denial is an interesting thing. It's easy to think you're potentially above it, avoiding it, assume it doesn't apply to you because you'd NEVER do that, or maybe you're just simply avoiding it altogether. After finally coming out, I liked to think that I was done denying anything from now on. But unfortunately that's not the case.

    And this fact became very clear to me over Thanksgiving.

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    Resources

    New Report Details the 'Price of Parenthood' for LGBTQ People

    A new report by the Family Equality Council takes a deep dive into the current state of cost for becoming a parent as an LGBTQ person

    Parenthood is expensive. But parenthood while queer is still prohibitively costly for so many segments of the LGBTQ community interested in pursuing a family, according to a new repot by the Family Equality Council, titled, "Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood."

    Among the more interesting findings was this one: the cost of family planning is relatively similar for all LGBTQ people, regardless of income level. This shows "that the desire to have children exists regardless of financial security," the report's authors conclude.

    Research for the report was conducted through an online survey of 500 LGBTQ adults over the age of 18, and was conducted between July 11-18, 2018. For comparison, the survey also included 1,004 adults who did not identify as LGBTQ.

    Other interesting findings of the report include:

    • 29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
    • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
    • Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, and error associated with question-wording and response options.29% of all LGBTQ+ respondents reported an annual household income under $25,000 compared to 22% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
    • 33% of black LGBTQ+ respondents, 32% of female-identified LGBTQ+ respondents, and 31% of trans/gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ respondents reported annual household incomes below $25,000.
    • Regardless of annual household income, 45-53% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family. Those making less than $25,000 a year are considering becoming parents at very similar rates as those making over $100,000.
    • Data from the Family Building Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ households making over $100,000 annually are considering the full range of paths to parenthood, from surrogacy and private adoption to foster care and IVF. The most popular options under consideration in this income bracket are private adoption (74% are considering), foster care (42%), and IVF or reciprocal IVF (21%). At the other end of the economic spectrum, for LGBTQ+ individuals in households making less than $25,000 annually, the most commonly considered paths to parenthood are intercourse (35% are considering), foster care (30%), and adoption (23%).

    What to Buy

    A Gift Guide for LGBTQ Inclusive Children's Books

    Need some ideas for good LGBTQ-inclusive children's books? Look no further than our gift guide!

    Every year we see more books released that feature our families, and we're here for it! We're especially excited for the day when diverse and LGBTQ+ inclusive books are less of "the odd one out" and rather considered part of every kids' everyday literacy.

    To help us reach that day, we need to keep supporting our community and allies who write these stories. So here's a list of some of the great books that need to be in your library, and gifts to the other kids in your lives.

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