Nine Ways Parents & Loved Ones Can Support LGBTQ Kids in the Trump Era

An anti-Trump march in New York City this weekend. Photo by Mathias Wasik (Creative Commons).
To the moms, the dads, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the siblings, the cousins, the friends of LGBTQ people: In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, a lot of you are scared. Many of you are struggling to understand how best to protect your LGBTQ children and how to offer them hope. In the face of an administration that has vocalized support for conversion therapy, vowed to upend marriage equality, declared the rights of transgender students unimportant, your child or loved one has never needed you more. You have every right to feel scared, to feel at a complete loss for how to navigate this new landscape. That fear and loss is a feeling you are, in many ways, sharing with your LGBTQ loved one.

Millions of people in this country are feeling this fear and loss, and some of us carry it along with more privileges than others. I am a white, cisgender, queer woman, and I am scared. However, I can leave my house and feel much safer than my brown and Black friends can, I can leave my city and feel much safer than my trans brothers and sisters can, and I can also move about feeling much safer than my Muslim friends (or my friends who are assumed to be Muslim based on their style of dress) and those who are undocumented in this country can.

I am more aware of this privilege now than ever before, and it has fueled the fires in my belly to fight harder. I am fighting for those who are too afraid to leave their homes, I am fighting for those who aren’t listened to, and I am fighting to ensure that my queer, trans, Black, brown, Muslim, and disabled family members know that I will not back down.

As an ally to the LGBTQ community, as the parent or family member of an LGBTQ kid, this is your fight, too. As a daughter, a niece, a grandchild, and a sister, I can tell you that the support I have seen from some of my family is one of the only things helping me get through my days. Those in my family who have not shown me support have caused me a pain so deep that I believe I will never entirely shake free from its hold.

The fact that you are seeking out information, that you are asking these questions, has buoyed me personally. This is love in its truest form. Thank you for asking this question, and thank you for seeking out more answers.

I have put together a list of things that are helping me right now and that I think will help you continue to support your LGBTQ loved one in this treacherous time:

1. Tell them you love them.

Tell them they are valid. Do not assume your child knows this, even if you said it just last week. Right now, we cannot hear this enough. Tell them they are a beautiful, whole, brilliant person. Make sure they know that their voice, their mind, their creations, and their aspirations are endlessly important. Be specific. Tell them you love the way they draw, tell them you love making them Earl Grey tea in the morning, tell them the way they tuck their hair behind their ear while they talk is so unique and wonderful. Tell them that no matter what anyone says, they are everything.

2. Tell them you will fight for them.

Then, fight for them. Join groups in your community that are organizing to create more resources and to bolster an already strong movement. Look up your local PFLAG chapter. Donate to organizations that work to continue to bring resources to parents and families that need them, like your local LGBTQ centers, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the NAACP. Many lists have been shared since Tuesday that highlight these organizations. If you use social media, share articles about the work of these organizations, tell people you are donating, and share articles that highlight the dangerous nature of this election clearly and honestly. If there are protests and you are able to attend them, go. Every step of the way, let your child know you will fight for them and for all people who have been put in increased danger by this election.

3. Show them people who have come before them, and show them people who are valiantly fighting right now.

As an LGBTQ person, I have found hope in two places over the past week. The first is in my history. I am so thankful to know the stories of social justice warriors like Angela Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk, and Audre Lorde. Share these stories with them if they don’t already know them, and share these stories with your friends and other family members. They allow us to see those who faced hatred and fear with raised fists, with diligence, and with love for their communities. The second place I have found hope is in the stories of those who are making connections to each other right now. I have had over 50 people reach out to me in the past 24 hours, letting me know that they stand with me and my work with Everyone Is Gay and My Kid Is Gay, offering up their time and their abilities to help in any way they can. Follow the people who are fighting right now. Follow Kate Leth, follow Rev. Broderick Greer, follow Gaby Dunn, follow Roxane Gay, follow Ashley Ford, follow Janet Mock, follow DeRray MckKesson, follow me! Let your child see this work. Let them know we are here.

4. Ensure they have access to resources.

Print out this list of hotlines. Put it on your fridge. Talk to them about the fact that it is okay to feel sad and to feel lost. Tell them you are always there to listen, no matter what they need to talk out, but that you also understand that sometimes they might want to reach out to someone else, and that is okay. Show them that list. Make another copy they can keep. Ask them if they want you to make copies for their friends. Post it to your social media accounts if you have them.

5. Fill your home with books.

Fill the homes of others with books. Take family trips to the library. Knowledge is power. That is not an understatement. The amount of people with the ability to understand the dangers of this presidency would have been so much higher if people had access to literature—literature that shows us our history, literature that tells the stories of Black, brown, queer, trans, Muslim, and disabled people, literature that tells the stories of women. This post is a gathering place for others to share books that they think are important for those exact reasons. If you have young children or know others with young children, tell them to fill their houses with children’s books that show different family structures, that show the fluidity of gender, that highlight the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity.

6. It is okay to feel scared and sad.

Allow yourself that, and allow your child that. Many of the things we have already discussed will offer them hope and strength, but it is critical to also allow the weight of this to present itself. I am sad, too. I am scared, too.

7. Teach them self-care and practice it yourself.

It is okay—if not imperative—to take a break from the internet and the onslaught of news and media reports. This is just one important way to take care of your own brain and heart. Talk to your child about this, too. Tell them it is okay to watch a ridiculous movie, to go ice skating, to mull cider, to draw, to blast music, to write. No one can fight this fight all day, every day. We need to also do our best to do the things that make us feel strong—even if that means trying to forget for a little while. Ask them if there is anything that makes them feel good, give them suggestions of things that might help them heal, and do the same for yourself. You cannot support them if you do not hold yourself up, too.

8. As an ally, talk about the importance of being an ally with others outside of these communities.

We in the LGBTQ community and other communities directly impacted by this election cannot win this ongoing fight alone. As an ally, as much as it saddens me to say it, your voice will be taken more seriously than marginalized voices. Your voice will be heard louder. Use it, and explain to those you love why this is your fight, too. Give them this article. Give them tools. Help build our army.

9. Be courageous.

This is going to be hard. People will disappoint you. You may have people in your own family who do not stand by your side. You have your child, though. Your child needs you. I need you. Please stay strong.

As you do this work, remember to always revisit the very first point: Tell your child you love them. Tell them they are valid. LGBTQ young people need to hear that they are not something in need of being fixed, that they have millions in this country who are fighting for them each and every day, and that their families and loved ones support and stand with them. These repeated declarations will build up the love and strength inside of them that they need to hold their heads high, to fight, to find community, and to survive.

by Kristin Russo
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Kristin Russo is an advocate for LGBTQ equality, and runs organizations Everyone Is Gay, My Kid Is Gay, and OUR Restroom. She also authored This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids (Chronicle, 2014).

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2 Comments Have Been Posted

Helping build confidence for LGBTQ youth

Thank you so much for this helpful article! I am currently working with my volunteer-run bookstore to collaborate with family and LGBTQ support groups across the country to help establish aid for teens and youth of all types!

I am super thankful that

I am super thankful that Bitch magazine exists. As a queer-identified feminist who works for a radical nonprofit bookstore in New York, I find that this is a very important outlet to both learn more about and learn from women like myself. I took women's studies classes while in college, and reading the various articles in Bitch helps me to feel as though these beliefs I was taught during those lessons are universal. My thanks to everyone at Bitch.

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