feature image via Morgan Cline
Helloooooo white people! Oh wow did our white friends and family fuck some shit up this year or WHAT. If you’re one of the thousands of queers heading home next week for a holiday that’s guaranteed to be jam packed with [racist] Trump-supporting motherfuckers, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind.
What kind of unbearable hell will I be walking into?
Is my one cool/normal aunt coming?
How will I survive endless hours of what is sure to be the most obnoxious, racist, xenophobic, misguided, misogynistic, patriarchal victory lap this country has ever known??
I’ll tell you how: you’re gonna fuck some shit up yourself!
We touched on this in yesterday’s podcast and today I’m elaborating. It’s unlikely that you’ll change minds in one heated Thanksgiving afternoon, but you will act. You’re going to study your facts and read up on the art of rhetorical persuasion, practice your to-the-point responses, learn those breathing exercises, steel your fucking gaze, and let no racist/xenophobic/misogynistic/otherwise bullshit remark go unanswered. Maybe your family isn’t the type to discuss politics during the holidays? Hahahahahaha they are now! Maybe you’ve been used to laying low, smiling at all the right times, making that Jim-Halpert-eye-contact with all the right people, excusing yourself when your brother-in-law starts talking about “black-on-black crime” because what’s the point of trying to correct them or change their minds? Not this year, my friend. Not this year and not any year to come.
This won’t apply to all of you of course. Some of you have been checking every bullshit remark coming out of every other white person’s face since forever. GOOD. Keep it up and leave some tips in the comments. Some of you aren’t in positions to challenge the hateful people in your lives because it’s physically dangerous to do so. We understand. Your activism will look different. But for a grand lot of you, this cognitive dissonance has been your normal. I know because it’s also been mine. I enjoy digging into difficult discussions with people who I know are willing to listen and learn. I’ll gladly rake an acquaintance or total stranger over the coals. It’s the friendlies that I run away from — the ones who never asked for clarification or guidance; the ones who happily let me marry their daughter in their backyard; the ones who taught my children how cabins are built; the ones we only see once or twice a year.
So very much has been written this past week about what white people have to do to carry the weight of moving a country toward an inclusive, anti-racist future. You’ve read it because I’ve linked you to it. You’ll read it again because it’s right. Brittani Nichols helped me put my frustration and fury into focus with her threads on Twitter, and I recommend you check them out and examine your role in shaping the future.
I’m sorry to say you’re gonna have to try anyway. And you’re gonna fail. A lot. But this is the work there is to be done.
— Brittani Nichols (@BisHilarious) November 10, 2016
Even if right now all you feel comfortable saying is, “That’s fucking weird, dude.” SAY THAT.
— Brittani Nichols (@BisHilarious) November 12, 2016
Read both threads in their entirety here and here.
Don’t think of this in terms of boxes you get to tick off and then you’re done. You’re never done! If your family all voted for Hillary, or you’ve already been engaging with that racist cousin on Facebook, you’re still not done. This Thanksgiving, you need to tell everyone within earshot that 200+ hate crimes in one week is not normal. In a few months you’ll need to talk about how a Muslim registry is not normal. This requires your ongoing attention and action. You have to speak up!
But maybe you’re wondering How do I even start that conversation??
Friend, have you considered potentially confrontational clothing and accessories?
Hell No!: Proceeds donated to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood! Hell yes!
Everyone Is Gay Logo Sweatshirt
The Future Is Female: 25% of proceeds goes to Planned Parenthood.
Capitalist Patriarchy: $5 from every sale is donated to Sacred Stone Spirit Camp.
This Is What A Feminist Looks Like
Don’t have time to wait for a delivery? Make your own confrontational shirt with 3″ Letter Stencils and Sharpie Fabric Markers.
Hillary and Dump Trump / Queer / Consent Calvary / Male Tears / Black Lives Matter
Trumpside Down: I’m not sure your family will pick up on the subtlety to be honest.
Make the Yuletide Gay: Other options include “Make the Yuletide Bi” and “Make the Yuletide Trans” and “Make the Yuletide They” so there’s truly something for everyone!
What are you thankful for this year? Probably the donations you made to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Campaign Zero.
This doesn’t stop at Thanksgiving and it doesn’t stop at your family and friends. Do not let this man and his presidency and the hateful rhetoric that put him in office become normalized. Resist complacency and comfort. The fact that you even have the option to slip into either of those modes is proof of your privilege. Use that privilege to get shit done.
I don’t know how I feel about a shirt with Drumpf’s face on it, but I will definitely be wearing my GAL PAL holiday sweatshirt from this very beautiful website!
My boss actually gave me some good advice-she said I need to have conversations with relatives who voted for Trump and tell them where I am coming from, that he scares me and his policies would hurt me and people I love, because they may just not get it or realize it (I know, I know, how do you not realize Trump is horrible? I don’t know either). So while I will probably want to scream profanities at everyone, I will very much try to take a deep breath and explain things to people who will hopefully listen. If not, I’ll see how I feel and take it from there.
I want a t-shirt that says “This is not normal” to remind me and everyone I see never to let complacency normalize a Trump America.
YESSSSS same same same. That exact sentiment is what finally crystallized my motivation to protest.
Yes! Perfection! And, if you have an inkjet printer, you can get Avery Iron On paper from places like Staples/Office Depot and make it yourself! I’m a big fan of making punny queer shirts for gatherings with my conservative family (last christmas was Cute Queer & Full of Cheer).
I think this is a fantastic idea. I’d be much more likely to buy that than a shirt with Darth Cheeto on it. AS, if you make it, we will buy it! :)
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) is currently circulating a petition to eliminate the Electoral College. It has already garnered over 4 million signatures, and you can add your name here if you choose:
Sixteen years have passed since the Gore-Bush debacle brought this topic to popular attention. It’s unfortunate that it has taken a Trump victory to renew interest in the Electoral College system. The margin by which Clinton won the popular vote is irrelevant; if we actually cared about the principle, this should have been addressed seriously a long time ago, not merely following the victory of a candidate we despise.
(Courtney- this is directed at the petition/general outrage concerning the EC system, not at you! I just wish more had been done earlier)
Another less-confrontational way would be gifting your conservative relatives some strategic gifts. Some holiday shopping suggestions:
I mean I’m pro-confrontation, like this article is saying, it’s just a sliding scale of options for maximum participation.
Is there another shirt that says the future is queer? Or shirt that says they/them, but some of the proceeds goes to a trans org or planned parenthood(yes I know I can just directly donate, but I also want a queer shirt too)?
Well there’s this one. The text isn’t super easy to read, though.
DON WE NOW OUR GAYEST APPAREL
Can we please get a list of lesbian women owned businesses for holiday shopping purposes?
I never want to buy from straight white men again
I am sure there is a lot, specially if you include ones run by bi and queer women(and woman aligned) too.
Yes – a list of businesses run by WOC and/or LGBTQ people would definitely come in handy.
A roller derby athlete I know owns a company caleld Strong Athletic that makes shirts and other things. They have shirts that say Strong Athletic Woman/Queer/Kid etc. They also have a Strong Nasty Woman shirt that sends a portion of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood! And yes, it is queer owned and operated :)
Thank you, Ruby!
Yeah, good call Ruby! Buy from Smarty’s line.
Also hiiiiiiiii real life friend!
Yes! Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing for me, but i know Christmas with my rural wisconsin military evangelical Christian family is gonna be tough. I think the tactic that’s been most successful for me in these conversations is to not let it be about trump. He can be a jumping off point and once you bring them around to getting racism, you can relate it back to him. But if you let it be a conversation about him as a person or candidate, it’s always gonna be emails or job creation or whatever other issue they’re using to mask their racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
Oh, wow. That’s about as tough a scenario I can think of. Good luck, and more luck on top of that!
yeah you’ve won the conservative family bingo i think.
also this is really good advice! thank you mika!
to be fair, that’s just my dad’s side of the family. hanging out with them once a year would be way easier if they drank, though. my right arm for some spiked cider during those little get togethers.
but somehow my mom is a super amazing jew who’s about as liberal as they come (as long as we don’t discuss israel) and my brother and his wife are moderate democrats so i have some backup.
I just (finally) ordered the Autostraddle Scissoring muscle tank. I’m definitely going to rock it to my local lesbian bar’s upcoming PP fundraiser. Not sure if it’s conformational enough for Thanksgiving though. It’s more “I like to mash my body up against other ladies” and less “what the fuck have we done, fuck this fucking asshole.”
So, I’m lucky in that I left Texas and married a lesbian socialist, so all her family and anyone else likely to show up for Thanksgiving are Democrats, at least. Her grandfather worked for one of FDR’s New Deal projects, that’s how Democratic they are.
But when I was trying to transition in the 90s, it was awkward when I showed up for Thanksgiving in a dress. Like, late 90s awkward. So the only one who knows about me is her cousin Ryan–he’s getting married, so that’ll take up a lot of attention. He’s a FB friend of ours.
They don’t know I’m back, as it were, but we have lots of other prospective topics of conversation. So maybe I’ll just be a nice surprise. As long as I can steer clear of a couple of relatives who’d want to quiz me about trans stuff (“No, but a friend says I really *should* watch Transparent, I’ll check it out. Do you guys watch Supergirl?”), I’ll be okay.
And I’ll be wearing something I like and feel comfortable in. And at least I’ll have a shawl, it’s a big house in Chappaqua, NY, and it’s fucking cold. If anyone asks how I’m doing, I’ll tell them queers have felt under attack since Orlando. Now it feels like we’re at war. I’ll even tell them why. I may even try saying “intersectional” and see if anyone (beside Kathleen) knows what it means. It’s not quite being a raging feminist per se, but it’s in the same general area.
And I bought some buttons from a nice artist in Toronto who’s on Etsy, and a leather jacket. I needed the jacket so I’d have something to put the buttons on, right? Anyway, along with a safety pin, which is kinda punk too, since it’s a leather jacket:
“Trans Lesbian” (had that made custom, getting some variations next)
“I write my own story”
“This is what a feminist looks like”
“Sorry, I forgot your name”
(Transgender flag colors)
I figured the buttons taken as a whole might save some time in general, and maybe help clarify things for a few gay men. Since my hair got long again, and I look queer anyway, it seems to be setting off some guys’ gaydar. Imagine my surprise. A few of them seem to like long silver hair, I guess, or at least they saw me and wondered WTF. I’m not exactly getting cruised, but still. Awkward. Then there’s gay environments in general. So maybe this will help and I won’t have to have TRANS tattooed on my forehead.
It’s kind of scary–ok, really scary, TBPH, wandering around Brooklyn and Manhattan wearing these buttons. Some women seem to think it’s funny, a few are appalled. (I honestly don’t give a fuck what guys I don’t know think unless it becomes harassment.)
But it’s a way to be visible even though most of the time I’m afraid to not wear boy clothes outside. I mean, my wife and I were talking yesterday about what she should wear to something or other, and she decided on a tee and shorts. “I feel safer in a t-shirt and shorts,” she said. “Me, too,” I said.
We’ll see how the jacket looks on the coatrack once we get there. Actually it’s so heavy it would probably knock it over, I’ll just have to put it on the little chair in the foyer with the buttons facing out.
Still, I know I’m awfully lucky as far as Thanksgiving. Not a single conservative relative. Not a single kid who turned out conservative. I don’t think I even *know* any Republicans. I suppose that even counts as something I’m thankful for every year. Especially this year. Except this year I’ve suggested that we replace the thankful thing this year with the Airing of Grievances from Festivus, only instead of airing grievances about each other (her family just doesn’t do that), it’ll be about the election. I think they’ll be sort of doing that a lot anyway, so maybe we can get some laughs out of it.
Good luck and my love to everyone. Even TERFs, for once. They probably don’t have easy holidays either. Since this happened I’ve spent the week here and on Facebook, suddenly avoiding the MSM as much as I can after 18 months of bingeing on poll numbers; reading, writing, sharing the pain, and making new plans. Like the title of Naomi Klein’s book put it, “This changes everything.”
Laneia I love this so much.
You all yell about white peoole and all of you are white. Get over it and be thankful you live in a country where you have rights. Go live in Saudi Arabia and tell me how oppressed you are. Trump doesn’t have the power you think he does. Get over it