It’s a problem queer people have been dealing with for years: When you go back to visit family over Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hannukah or whatever, how do you navigate the minefield of politics? This year, the problem is worse than ever, with one of the most deeply upsetting presidential elections in our lifetimes.
It’s almost impossible to believe that politics won’t come up at some point. So don’t delude yourself into thinking that somehow everyone will manage to magically avoid the subject — you need to brace yourself now for what’s coming. Step one of dealing with Republican family members is just to accept that they exist, that confrontation is inevitable, and that even if you were to cut them out of your life altogether, there’s no way to turn them into complete strangers. They’ll always have that familial bond, even if you’re not speaking.
But hopefully it won’t come to that. Ideally, you’ll come away from the holidays with a better understanding of them, and they’ll come away with a better understanding of everything you stand to lose under the administration they helped install.
Of course, if you truly feel that you’re in jeopardy, you should instigate a quarantine. The most powerful leverage you have over them is your presence, and if you withhold that, they may come around. This is a last-ditch, worst-case scenario, though. Cutting people out of your life is painful, and giving family ultimatums is a far-from-guaranteed way to get them on your side.
A more effective strategy may be simply telling them specifically why you’re scared of the people coming to power. Hold off on the name-calling and blaming if you want them to listen. (Or, if you just want a bitter fight, go ahead and name-call.) Don’t rattle off facts, because facts aren’t always meaningful to your average Trump supporter. Instead, talk about yourself, and how the GOP in the White House could hurt you.
For example, you could talk about how various anti-LGBTQ groups have called for marriage to be overturned. Even though that’s not likely to happen, it’s very possible that they could push for laws that erode your rights. So you might still be able to get married, but then your license might not be recognized by anyone who doesn’t feel like honoring it. In cases like those, you could be denied access to a dying spouse in the hospital — and that’s not hypothetical, as incoming VP Mike Pence tried to do exactly that to a lesbian couple when he was governor of Indiana.
Not to mention, Donald Trump has said he’d sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which would let businesses across the country turn away gay customers. That’s inconvenient when it’s a florist or baker, but imagine if it was a bank, or a school, or the only supermarket in town.
Or you could talk about the rotten judges that Trump has short-listed for the Supreme Court. One of them, Bill Pryor, said that states should be able to round up and arrest gay people because what we do is comparable to “prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia.” Make your relatives understand: that’s you that he’s talking about, and thanks to their vote, he could be deciding laws that directly impact your life.
Or you could talk about Trump’s domestic policy advisor, Ken Blackwell, who said that being gay is like being an arsonist or kleptomaniac. Again — that’s you that they’re comparing to criminals. And if they’re comfortable making that comparison, how far do you think they are from rounding up the gays as criminals?
There’s a lot to worry about over the next four years. If you want your family to know why you’re worried, the holidays are a perfect time to bring them some specific, personal, and absolutely horrifying concerns.
(Featured image via Gage Skidmore)