The world changed on the morning of January 20th, and if you’re like us, you’re still dealing with it. It’s easy to become disillusioned or angry or burrow into your own tribe to avoid interacting with those who are different from you. But you’re smarter than that, right?
We thought so.
Here are five ways to deal with the 45th president while maintaining your sanity…
1. Pay attention to local politics
All politics are local, which is why the fact that pro-LGBT Democrats have lost hundreds of seats in local and state races should give you more pause than anyone entering the White House. Does HB2 ring a bell? That was an act of discrimination that played out nearly entirely on the local level, and it looks like we’re gearing up to fight multiple copycats that are in the works as we speak.
It’s easy to get caught up in the drama and intrigue of Presidential politics when it seems like so much is at stake (and believe us, it is), but the actions of your mayor, governor, state rep. or even school board member are far more likely to impact the political bottom line than anything else. This is the reason why why people who live in the bluest cities in the bluest states are freaking out just a bit less than our LGBTQ brothers and sisters toughing it out in red states represented by local politicians hostile to our cause.
Know what’s going on in your backyard. If you don’t like it…
2. Get involved
Multiple organizations that are pro women/POC/LGBTQ reported record breaking donations right after the election results. What does this mean? Turn your aching into action. Organizations like The Ali Forney Center, The Trevor Project, and God’s Love We Deliver will need your time and money more than ever heading into at least four years of an administration likely to be indifferent if not downright hostile to causes that benefit our community.
The world may seem dark and hopeless on multiple levels right now, and trust that we get it, but there’s something to be said for being the change you’d like to see in the world. Sharing anti-Trump memes and doomsday articles on social media only goes so far. The people we’re trying to protect and keep safe during this scary and uncertain time need you to step up and help out. It also may be a good idea to…
3. Avoid hyper-partisan echo chambers
Your favorite pro LGBT/POC/etc. sites are great, but they can’t be your only source of news. (Yes, that even includes Queerty.) You want deep reporting? Go to Politico. Or The Washington Post. Subscribe to the NY Times. Or any one of dozens of other “real” news organizations that employ skilled journalists to do long, tedious work with the endgame of educating the public about things that matter.
Educate yourself as much as possible about the issues that matter to our community, but try to move beyond even the LGBTQ stuff. If you’re trying to suss out your news sources, here’s a tip: if any site shares an article titled “(insert celebrity/pundit/comedian here) Just DESTROYED Donald Trump,” chances are it’s more of a click-bait factory than news organization that can be counted on to provide detailed analysis and facts about the issues that matter. Besides, if you stay in the safe cocoon of hyper-partisan news sources, there’s no way you’ll be able to…
4. Attempt to understand the other side
Do you truly believe that every one of the 60+ million Americans who voted for Donald Trump are confederate flag wearing racists who want to take your right to get married away and round you up in a gay concentration camp? If you do, there’s nothing I can say to get through to you.
If you think there’s a chance that some of these Trump voters are decent human beings, then making an attempt to understand the complex economic and cultural reasons that some people voted for the man is the first step. If not, well then we’re as bad as those who judge and smear us without knowing the truth.
If you put your heart and soul into helping Obama get elected and you wanted to see the same for Hillary Clinton, we understand. But remember what Michelle Obama said at the Democratic National Convention: “When they go low, we go high.” Truer words were never spoken, regardless of who takes the White House now or four years from now. But until then…
5. Remember the midterms are only 22 months away
Remember how the Democrats got completely walloped in the 2010 midterms once the Obama Hate Machine went to work? The beauty of politics is that Democrats have the opportunity to do the EXACT SAME THING to the Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.
There is nothing to mobilize voters like a deeply unpopular president, and calling Donald Trump deeply unpopular is like calling the decade-long J. Lo/Mariah Carey shadefest a “minor disagreement.”
If you have any tips or coping mechanisms to add, feel free to share below.
Rob Smith is a multimedia journalist and author of Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Army. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.