It has been quite the year. From the Women’s March in January, the Resist March in June, to the #MeToo Survivors’ March in November, we continue to drive the conversation of the “resistance” forward and shed light on important issues and movements that have taken over the American zeitgeist since the early stages of 2016 Presidential election until now. While many of the actions to come out of the Trump administration have forced both myself and many others, to grow as both people and activists, there is still one thing that I cannot get over: my non-existent relationship with my Aunt and Uncle (who are also my godparents).
Much like I promised on that fateful day where we finally had it out, I swore I would never speak to them again until I received an apology. Now, while you may be assuming that the apology I want is a result of their voting for then-candidate Trump, I must say nothing could be further from the truth. Although I do understand that people have lost and ended numerous relationships with family members, friends, partners, or lovers as a result of a person’s private voting booth decision, I am not in that camp.
Yes, I’m sure I have retweeted or posted stuff that said: “defriend me if you actually voted for this man,” or something of that nature, I can assure you that the feud I am having with my Aunt and my Uncle is not a result of their decision to vote for President Trump (no matter how much it bothers me). The real reason for our fight stems back to an article I shared on Facebook from the South Florida newspaper the Sun Sentinel titled: “Voter anger over Trump’s election goes deeper than Clinton’s loss.” The only addition to the long quote that I pulled from the article was: “This pretty much sums up ALL of my feelings regarding friends/family that voter for Trump.” While the fight would soon consume our family, the facts, much like with the 2016 Election, quickly got away from everyone and were itself a parody that even I couldn’t have made up.
I was walking back into work at my old job at West Hollywood City Hall when I noticed that my Aunt Mary Lou, who, I had spent most of my time with growing up as most of my mother’s other family lived in Florida, commented on the aid Facebook post. Her comment was as follows:
I want to mention that I had not spoken to or talked with my Aunt and Uncle (whom I know we're always going to vote for Trump) about the election. I knew we did not see eye-to-eye on it and it would only cause discord. For those of you that know you, know that this almost seems like an anomaly. I am not one to hold back and I have no problem telling people how I feel. However, when it came to my Aunt and Uncle, it wasn’t worth the strife that would come up as a result of me commenting on her posts on her Facebook page (most of which were made up of fake news stories that Russians used to target vulnerable people in swing states like Wisconsin but I digress). I even would tell my sisters, who are much better people than I could ever hope to be, that she has a right to say whatever she wants on her own personal Facebook page and not to worry as I was almost positive, much like everyone else, that Hillary Clinton would win.
While I do not intend to rehash the devastation the 2016 election had and continues to have over myself (you can more about that here), all I will say is that I continued to not engage with her or her posts because I was hurting. However, it was in that moment when I got the notification that she had commented on the article I shared that all bets were off.
What followed was a long, drawn-out, nasty fight online (where most fights seem to occur these days). I will be the first to say that I too am guilty of saying mean things; however, they were a direct result of a comment made by my Aunt’s sister Nancy that I said such things:
What really made me mad wasn’t that they were attacking me online after I had never said a thing to them (don’t get me wrong, this hurt) but the sheer fact that they were equating my sharing the article as me critiquing them on who they voted for.
I want to be really clear: I never told them who to vote for because I never spoke to them until after the election. I agree with Nancy that as an American citizen she has the freedom to vote for whomever she wants. To make matters worse, my Aunt, and subsequently her sister, much like the fake news that is now part of our daily vernacular, thought that the article that I shared was actually written by me. They were too busy to actually read the article and see that, although I wish I had written it, was a letter to the editor of the Sun Sentinel.
Now, do not get me wrong, I clapped back to Nancy’s comment. It has since been edited as a result of constant pleas from family members to not make private family business public but I refuse to take down the post or the subsequent comments down. While I thought the post was old news after a few days of no activity, it wasn’t until I was walking around Disneyland, you know, the “happiest place on the planet,” and felt my phone buzzing. Aunt Mary Lou had commented:
Although I won’t go further into the details of the back-and-forth, all of this sums down to the fact that I no longer speak to my Aunt (and subsequently my Uncle) because I was attacked, online by both her and her sister. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not happy they voted for Trump. However, what makes them different from my other family members that also voted for Trump is, they did not attack me on my personal Facebook page.
I’m mad. I’m upset. I’m still very hurt. I’m not happy that two people that watched me grow up, supported me, and loved me choose to go this route. However, I am, if anything, a man of my word. When I said, that I would never, ever, speak to them again until I got an apology, I meant it; and I’m still waiting.
I was recently asked: why don’t you just give up? My answer: because I still believe in them. I still know, that although they voted for the vilest human being, I still love them and hope that one day they will see the light. This past election has destroyed so much, but I refuse to let it destroy the one thing about me that I believe in the most: love. I will continue to “do all the good I can, for all the people I can, in all the ways I can, as long as ever I can” no matter what.
It’s their move, and it begins with I’m and ends with sorry.
*This post was originally published on the Engaged Gaze