A Trip to Trumpland
This weekend I made my first trip to my Kentucky hometown in 14 months. I am lucky enough to still have 3 of my grandparents alive today and couldn’t stomach waiting any longer to see them again. A huge part of me didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to endure the tense relationships I have with my parents. I didn’t want to go and pretend I wasn’t in love with a man. A man with whom I plan on spending the rest of my life. (I’m not out to many family members for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into in this post. Yes, I hate it. Yes, it kills me. And yes, something is going to have to give, but not this time.)
So I drove from Chicago to Western Kentucky in said man’s car with a bumper sticker proudly proclaiming our love for Hillary on it and took off for a quick trip down south. The entire family is aware of my politics, if not the intensely personal reasons they diverge so much from theirs, so needless to say politics wasn’t something brought up often. Of course, there were the occasional snide comments ranging from anti-immigrant to transphobia, which I will share with you.
- My aunt and uncle have gotten their concealed carry permits since I was last home. My aunt evidently doesn’t carry her gun because it’s “too heavy” to have in her purse; however, my uncle proudly showed me the gun he was carrying. He asked if it made me feel safer and I quickly assured him that it had the opposite effect on me and I would prefer not to see it again.
- We took a trip to Target. After stepping inside the store my father declared that he didn’t like shopping there anymore. He didn’t clarify further, which would have been unnecessary regardless. My uncle told my sister to be careful in the bathroom because “there might be a man in there.” My sister, a fellow HRC voter, was the saving grace to my sanity during most of the visit and ignored the comment. After leaving Target, my uncle added that he was glad to see his shopping trip wasn’t adversely affected by “Day Without Immigrants.” I just shook my head and told him he was an immigrant. He said he was born here (which he was, but not my point) to which I replied “I didn’t know you were a Native American.”
- While in the car with my immediate family, my father noticed the car in front of us had a Bernie bumper sticker (note: though it was obviously seen, no one commented on my HRC sticker). He proceeded to state that he should have run into the back of the car. Though I’m an ardent Bernie-hater (for completely different reasons than my father), I was in the unfortunate situation that required me to defend him. “At least he isn’t owned by Russia,” I replied.
- While the entire family was at dinner at a local restaurant, the evening news came on and, of course, Trump was the first story. My octogenarian grandfather, and die-hard Democrat, was watching it. I said loudly “Grandpa, don’t watch it, it will just upset you.” He just shook his head silently. He’s well aware he’s in the minority in this family.
- My great aunt, while making it clear she wasn’t looking for an actual discussion, asked my thoughts on Gorsuch. I replied that he should not be confirmed and that it was not Trump’s seat to fill regardless. I added “what the Republicans did last year was awful.” She replied “What the Democrats are doing now is awful.” With that, the conversation was over.
- There was one somewhat bright spot to the trip regarding politics. While at dinner my mother was discussing local school board and administration activities that were causing a stir. At one point I mentioned something about the Secretary of Education not knowing anything about education and my mother actually agreed and seemed unhappy about that particular appointment.
The visit was less than 48 hours in length, yet quite long enough for a foray into a difficult family situation in one of the reddest corners of the country. Politics were generally refrained from, as I said earlier, however it was beyond clear that little of what has transpired since the election concerned my Trump-supporting relatives. I’m honestly not sure what it would take, if anything, to convince them to change their allegiance to the Republican party, even the current one distorted and disfigured by Trump.