When You’re LGBT And Your Family Is Voting For Trump
Periodically (or when the mood strikes), I’ll be writing essays and posting them here on my website. Here’s the first one. It’s on the impending election, of course. Enjoy.
November eighth is looming. It seems the closer we get to Election Day, the more heightened the emotions, thoughts, comments and stakes involved.
I’ve done my best to stay out of the fray. I’ll post funny little ditties about both candidates on Facebook, hoping to keep things light. But the reality is this election is far from light; it’s incredibly dark. And as an LGBT individual, it’s downright scary.
We reached a milestone last summer when gay marriage became legal across the country. My mother called and left a message on my phone that nearly brought me to tears. “Congratulations!” she said in her heartwarming and adorable motherly voice. “That’s the way it should be.”
Come November, my mother is voting for Donald Trump. So is my father. Both of them love me unconditionally. Yet, both of them hate Hillary Clinton with a boiling passion that has been bubbling to the surface, across the country, for months—even years.
This is hard to reconcile for me. On one hand, I respect their political views and right to vote for whom they choose. On the other hand, I don’t get how they can vote for someone who has threatened to appoint Supreme Court Justices that would overturn the marriage equality ruling. It directly affects me. It affects my family. It affects my daughter.
Straight people who have enjoyed the privilege of getting legally married, and all of the benefits that legal marriage provides, don’t think about things like this. Not even my parents. It’s not part of their world, one in which they’ve been able to blindly take these kinds of things for granted. And they aren’t the only ones.
The other night, a relative of my wife’s came over for a visit. He’s a genuinely nice guy. He loves our daughter and often brings her gifts and stuffed animals—mostly oversized cows, which she loves because, well, she loves cows.
It was a brisk yet pleasant October evening. We were sitting outside in front of my house. Glasses of wine were in hand. Naturally, election and real world chatter arose. I don’t mind engaging in this type of conversation, as long as its civil and constructive. Like my parents, this relative is voting for Trump. But I’d venture to say he’s more of an active fan. When he asked why we weren’t going to get on the “Trump Train” and cast our vote for him, I said simply: “As gay individuals, we can’t afford to. We have to take that into consideration.”
(Sure, there are a billion other reasons why I am not voting for Trump. But being an LGBT individual is at the top of the list.)
This particular relative decided at that moment, that it was a good time to tell my wife and I—and our four-year-old with perky ears who was busily playing at our feet—that he believed marriage was only between a man and a woman. I stopped him right there. I got up and hurried my daughter inside for a bath.
I like to think I’m an understanding person. I respect all people and their political opinions, no matter how drastically I disagree with them. I’m fine with family members of mine voting for Trump. But to question the validity of my marriage in front of my daughter, that’s where I draw the damn line. My wife and I took the same vows as every other married couple on the planet. We work hard to live a decent life, raise our family in peace, and be good human beings. Our marriage is no less or greater than anyone else’s, and we go through the same exact trials and tribulations. The only thing that makes our marriage different is an ignorant and outdated point of view.
I rather enjoy being married. I’ve been in one for seven years now. And I hope to enjoy my legal marriage to my wife for the rest of my life, with our daughter a witness to our love and appreciation for one another—sexuality aside. But as the election nears, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s possible. Trump has a decent shot at winning. And people, even those in my own family circle, don’t seem to care about how that outcome could possibly affect the LGBT community.
All they seem to care about is beating Hillary.
This essay also appears on The Huffington Post.