The election of Donald Trump has sent the queer community into a tailspin. As we wrestle with our current political reality, I’ve begun to reconcile with my family who voted for him.
While heated words and devastating text exchanges have simmered down between my pro-Trump parents and me, I still find myself struggling with feeling betrayed and frustrated by their inability to understand how his election has put me in danger.
And I am not alone. Many members of our community are fighting this same battle with loved ones.
A gay man who lives less than a mile away from me was told he was no longer welcome in his family’s home because he protested against the president-elect. Another told me yesterday at a party that he has no plans to ever reconcile with his parents who are staunch Trump supporters. Both men sounded more determined than resigned; they shared sentiments that this was a fight worth fighting, no matter what lines are sketched into the sand.
Lately I find myself continuously questioning how this has happened to us: how parents are being turned against the very queer children they once championed even as conservatives; how it feels for them to know they only have love and affection for their gay children, yet they’re told repeatedly that they’ve betrayed the queer community.
If there is a way to forgive my parents completely, I haven’t discovered it yet. But they continue to make me try. They do so by attempting to calm my fears and ironically urging me to be exactly who I am—to do things like keep holding my boyfriend’s hand when I walk down the street, to not be afraid.
It pains me to have to tell them time and time again that it is easy for me to not be afraid when I’m a young white man living in Los Angeles. They don’t understand that there are queer people beyond me—people who can and will be singled out for not only being queer, but for being black, or trans, or any kind of "other."
When it comes to seeing the bigger picture, my parents’ minds are somehow broadened and narrowed. They’re aware of how dangerous the world can be for their children, but seldom remember that there are children who aren’t their own. But they benefit when I remind that what puts me in danger doesn’t necessarily put others in danger. If my parents aren’t constantly engaged in these kinds of conversations than other queer children remain distant, unrelatable headlines.
Recently we’ve moved past Donald Trump as the only conversation piece we can have over the phone. But every other topic is weighted by unspoken words. Whatever this feeling is, it won’t be cured soon. I’ve been untethered from the illusion that my parents are here to protect me because they’ve failed to protect my brothers and sisters.
For everyone else who may find themselves in a similar situation to mine—one in which Trump has not only begun to take your rights but also your family—know that you’re not alone. Know that we have each other.
Shawn Binder is a Los Angeles-based writer whose work has appeared in Hello Mr., VICE, and PAPER.