Why you should talk politics at the holiday dinner table this year.

“You should be able to put politics aside- it’s the holidays.”

“Don’t cause family drama.”

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

Sharon- we can’t just get along because you voted for a sexist, racist, xenophobic sycophant who has no sense of common decency, tradition, or truth.

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT. YOU ARE GOING HOME AGAIN FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Why? Why didn’t you book that solo trip to Italy you’ve been talking about? And by “book a solo trip to Italy” I mean, “lie to your family and stay home alone with a bunch of thai take-out and your ex’s HBO-go password.”

You didn’t lie though, you sweet honest fool. And now, you have destined yourself to what would rival Dante’s final circle of hell (ironically for the betrayers). You betrayed yourself, and now, my sweet Judas, you will pay with more than just your time and energy, but also your patience and maybe your sanity.

Agreeing with everyone “for the sake of keeping the peace” is how I was raised- that Caucasian WASP-iness runs DEEP and if I make one more great aunt cry, I know I’m out of the will. But for many of us, the last two years have had a real and personal impact on the quality of our lives. Whether you have been personally affected by gun violence, sexism, sexual assualt, racism, homophobia, transphobia, police violence, immigration… it is hard to just “leave it at the door” because its not some abstract discussion. Below are some reminders of ways to have authentic conversation with family about politics because let’s be honest, white people have the responsibility to have discussions with our families. Our moms are the one who voted for Trump. Our sisters are the ones that believed Roy Moore. Our aunts are the ones who thought Christine Blasey Ford was a liar.

Tip # 1: Keep it light, keep it bright, keep it gay!

BRING. HOME. YOUR. PERSON. Bring home your partner. There is nothing that can change people’s minds more than connecting facts and numbers with HOOMANS. WHO. LOVE THEM. I know it will be work for whoever you bring home- promise them an extra special sex toy for when you get home. Or like, a cake. I don’t know what you’re into, but take care of it.

Tip #2: With us, it’s personal.

Rambling on with facts and statistics didn’t work with Archie Bunker, and it’s not going to work now. Find two to three things that this administration has done that impact you directly. It’s pretty easy… this administration is openly going after queer & trans people, people of color, immigrants. For my focus, I look to the over 11 states have passed anti-LGTBQ adoption laws that allow adoption agencies to openly discriminate against allowing gay parents to adopt, and there was a bill in Congress this year designed to make this discrimination legal under federal law. As a godmother to an adorable boy who has two gay dads, and as someone who wants to adopt kids of my own some day, this directly affects me. Also, you know what else affects me? Trans people being denied passports and identification documents that make their gender expression. I know what you are thinking… but Brooke, you aren’t transgender. You’re right! But my community is my family, and when one of us is targeted, it puts us all at risk. Hate crimes are on the rise for the third consecutive year, and I live in Ohio. With over 31 Hate Groups and counting (check out your state here), I can’t afford to be flippant about the danger to those in my community that have less protection than me.

Tip #3: If you can’t do 1 and 2, just take care of yourself.

We get a lot of shit for being snowflakes – and I am going to tell you, in this moment, that it is okay to need a break and take care of yourself. No one needs to you lift up the political conversation on your own (unless you are a cis white person- then you GET OUT THERE AND TALK TO YOUR RACIST RELATIVES). If you need a break and can’t attend a family event or gathering- be honest. Tell one member of the family why you need to take care of yourself and that while you will miss them, you need to be surrounded by people whose actions reflect their respect and love for you. And if your family is anything like my family, telling one person means by the end of the day, it will be on the 6 o’clock news because the whole damn town knows about it.

 

We are all going to be around family this holiday season that we have not chosen to let into our lives- as queer people, the concept of chosen family is one that has kept many of us both sane and alive. Chosen family means just what you think it does, straights- it means that you cultivate and create close friendships with people who have similar (though often not identical) value systems based in a mutual respect of one another’s autonomy. Maybe on the next holiday, you choose to spend it with chosen family. And maybe, in just a few more holidays, we will be able to be proud of the actions our government takes to protect those who are most vulnerable, instead of callously target them for pain and devastation. God bless us, everyone.

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