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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    Change the World

    Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

    Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

    Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

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    Change the World

    4 Tips for Using Instagram to Connect with Gay Dads Offline

    We asked gay dads who have successfully met up with other LGBTQ families offline for some of their tips

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    1. Be kind — share others' excitement in parenting!


    From @twinlifedads Ben and Andy:

    "Be kind. That is absolutely it. Be kind to each other and don't be afraid to reach out. Respond to each other when you can. Share in excitement for each other. There is no reason to bring someone else down who might be excited about how they are parenting."

    2. Drop a couple comments and likes before reaching out!

    From @brisvegasdad Tim and Nic:

    "I think drop comments now and then on their posts and instastories and see where things land. Chances are, if you're commenting on a post and it is a heartfelt response, they'll click through to your account, look at your photos and connect with you. And that's when the magic happens - you can introduce yourself, talk about your lives and how things are being a parent... and after a while, if you're in the same neighbourhood, you meet up and grow your friendship organically. That being said, I'm obsessed with Bobby Berk from Queer Eye and his husband Dewey Do - if they ever had kids, I'd probably be completely unsubtle and leave strange awkward comments on their instaposts saying, 'GAY DADS MEET UPSSSSS'."

    3. Go in with no expectations

    From @stevecsmith Steve and Ben:

    "I always try to reach out without any expectations – mostly just to provide a positive comment. I like to leave it up to the other parents to comment or message back before suggesting meeting up or a playdate. Every family is different, so how each person is going to respond is different too."

    4. Keep trying!

    From @theconways13 Ricky and Jeff:

    "Reach out to other families, start a light friendly conversation. Get to know each other and let conversations happen organically. If they lead to a play date great! Our first experience in meeting another lgbt family (not through ig/gwk) was very awkward cause there wasn't a whole lot of conversation happening before hand. The conversations leading up to the play date will help make the first play date with the family go a lot smoother and fun. Don't be afraid of not connecting with the other families. If it isn't successful the first time, continue reaching out to to other families- don't let it deter you from reaching out to others."

    Change the World

    How Gay Dads Are Using Instagram to Connect

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    It can be easy to dismiss Instagram as nothing more than a place for us to pretend our lives our perfect — smiling families, exotic vacations, maybe a FaceTuned pic or two — but for gay dads, it's more than that. Sure, we share our perfect family pics, too. But for LGBTQ families, who still face discrimination all across the country and world, sharing a picture of two gay dads, smiling happily and proudly with their kids, is also a political act. And it provides us an opportunity to lift up and support one another, wherever our families are, in cities and towns big and small.

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    Entertainment

    Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

    Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

    For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

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    "I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

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    Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

    Politics

    Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

    The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

    DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

    Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

    As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

    "This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

    Read the full article here.

    Personal Essays by Gay Dads

    Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

    One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

    My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

    Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

    How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.

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    Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

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    "In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

    Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

    Read the full interview here.

    Fatherhood, the gay way

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