“Your mama won’t stop crying. She thinks she is a failure because she raised a liberal daughter,” sent and read on November 12th at 5:39PM.
Through heavy tears, my head buried beneath the covers, and the shades drawn, I sit up straight in my bed after reading this blue text. It was sent from my equally conservative step father attempting to calm me down after an argument with my mother, an immigrant from Austria who is not even eligible to vote but vehemently declares her Conservative, and very Catholic, Republican notions.
Here’s a little back story into my life: I am an artist living in Chicago. More specifically, I am a genderqueer femme who writes about sexual health and women’s wellness on the regular. I work for an online platform that features underground creatives: drag queens, LGBTQ artists, political activists, and marginalized voices are at the center of our mission. I am always active in the political sphere, my voice is always shouting. I “came out,” as one may call it, as a liberal to my family at an early age. I fought and argued, I listened and interrupted. I unlearned my family’s judgements.
I stayed up to watch Clinton concede the election on November 9th and I watched in horror, like many of us, as Trump arrived on stage to give his victory speech. When I lifted my head in the morning, I avoided phone calls, mostly from my mother, and ate my feelings in the form of french toast and a fried egg.
My mother’s triumph is my loss. Her joy is my sudden and all-encompassing anxiety; something that took a hold of my body for a week and something that is still coursing through my thoughts, my work, and my constant day-to-day moments of sighing.
Traversing the next four years with Trump will be terrifying and demanding. For myself, my friends of colors, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, foreign policy, reproductive rights, and for the future of our nation, our emotions are present and they are strong. What followed on November 9th has been incessant arguing, debating, and hang ups between my mother and I. As an only child, I did not want to see our relationship crumble. My begging became desperate as I asked her to “give me some time” and “some space” to sort out this foreign feeling of intoxicating anxiety.
Since I work in art, writing, and editing, the election is my number one concentration. The platform I edit has covered the Chicago protests and recently featured how artists cope in times of despair. My immediate reality revolves around these results. I have not properly mourned Trump’s win. Instead, I have had to propel my entire being into what is happening in and around my city. Protests, write-ups, action, activism, and most importantly, love, love, and love are at the core of my world.
Yet, my old world, my childhood, the world of my family, are now — with full fledged armor — my enemies.
To them, I am revolting. My beliefs, my education, my morals — and because of these characteristics — my work as a writer and editor, are all seen as the opposition, the failure of America. For myself, I view my family in a similar light. I cry for their relentless support of hate, I whimper out of fear.
As I walk down Michigan Avenue, protestors are yelling “Pussy Grabs Back!” I think of my grandmother who avidly protests Planned Parenthood — a religious woman who I’ve kept in the closet about my political opinions my entire life. I think about my mother. She shoots me texts saying that I shouldn’t be a “follower” and that protesting is not going to “solve anything.” I slip my phone in to my warm pocket and choose to ignore her, my anger too hot and active to be tampered with right now.
The opposition, and my family, are empowering me in ways that I did not expect; through my keyboard and through the streets I am thinking of them. I see their faces as “Muslim Lives Matter!” echoes down Lake Shore Drive. Passengers in cars are honking and peace signs show solidarity. My disagreeing lifestyle has given me unimaginable strength throughout the years. From finding my own voice at my Quaker college, to walking proudly down the streets of Chicago, far from home, far from hate, and closer to change.
I am currently sitting in my Chicago apartment as I write this. It has been 11 days since Trump was announced president-elect. My mother sits across from me as we both sip on hazelnut coffee. I have always called her, “Mama,” never “Mom.” She drove up for a weekend visit to help me after my three year relationship dissolved. She heads back to North Carolina tomorrow and she is worried about a chance of snow, constantly checking her weather app as she receives Facebook updates on her new profile picture. We laugh every so often.
Her short dark hair hangs straight, never curled, and her bangs are pinned back with a bejeweled piece of plastic. She is wearing high heels. She taught me to, “always wear black” and the power of red lipstick. Here she sits: a Republican, an immigrant, and above all, my mama. Across from her, my legs are tangled and my hair is unwashed. I am my mother’s liberal offspring, I am her failure, and despite everything, I love her. I am surrendering to this feeling again and again, every day for the next four years.
Some things you simply cannot choose, change, or explain and love is definitely one of them.