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I Won't Let the Election Come Between Me & My Family

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About as soon as I was old enough to access political information for myself, I’ve been liberal. How I came to identify this way surrounded by a largely religious and conservative family is somewhat beyond me, but honestly the opposition has only strengthened my resolve to support the liberal Democratic cause. I have so many fond memories of arguing with my stepdad across the dinner table, and feeling more firm in my beliefs than ever, even after my mom distracted us both with dessert and a funny story from the yoga studio. However, after Trump’s election, I feel like I’m surrounded by so much hatred and negative partisanship. As someone who identifies as LGBTQ+, I feel like my relationship with my government is changing drastically, and I don’t know what to expect. This year, I just don’t have the energy for another family-style debate on whether the United States is a patriarchy (it is), or which of my mom’s pies is the best (pumpkin), or whether same-sex marriage should be legal (it should). Because of this, I didn’t buy plane tickets home for Thanksgiving this year.

As a nation, I feel like our political affiliations are separating us now more than ever. I want to be close to my parents and my siblings, but I don’t want to constantly have to censor myself in case I say something “too liberal." I don’t think of my beliefs as anything controversial, or as something that I should have to hide from the people I love and trust the most. Unfortunately, I think this election has forced me to hide some part of myself from my family, and I’m scared to subject myself to that type of environment over the holidays.

I’m not out to my parents, so when I made the decision not to come home, I cited money trouble instead of attempting to explain how I'm still trying to work through my personal feelings surrounding the election. Upon hearing this, my mom immediately responded by buying my tickets herself. Whoops. In retrospect, I really should have seen that coming. Afterwards, I figured it might be time to reevaluate some of my priorities. Are politics really more important than my relationship with my family?

Yes, politics are very personal. Yes, I voted in a way that directly results from my experiences and my morals, both of which are intrinsically important to me. Yes, my family voted differently, and I don’t think I will ever understand why, just like they might not ever understand why I voted Democratic (unless, possibly, I come out to them, but that’s another story altogether). But, when I think of my family, I don’t immediately think of their political beliefs. I think of how my little sister watched an entire season of Pretty Little Liars in one weekend, and how sometimes when my mom has insomnia I wake up to the smell of a freshly-baked cake. I think of my aunts yelling in Italian, and my American uncles laughing when they get lost. They are all so much more than the way they voted, and I am too. 

Of course, I have significant privilege in my relationship with my family. I recognize that not everyone gets to come home to a group of people who love them unconditionally, and that not every person can vocalize their beliefs the way that I can without facing punishment of some sort. However, for everyone that feels safe in doing so, I urge you to stay close with your family after this election. Please, don’t end up like me, awkwardly paying my mom back for a trip I could have afforded myself. All my efforts to keep my feelings from my family are going out the window anyways; I have a lot of explaining to do! 

These next four years are going to be, for everyone, more alienating than ever, and any place where there is a community based on love and acceptance needs to be protected and cherished. This is why, although I didn’t buy my tickets, I’ll be going home for Thanksgiving this year.


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