How to speak with your Conservative family at Thanksgiving this year (If you must!)

by Brian Moniz

If you are like the millions of liberal gay Americans out there like me who are going home this year to see your conservative family, here is one tip to keep in mind before you start the day-long arguments about how terrible Trump is — DON’T!

This past Friday on HBO, controversial political figure Bill Maher spoke on his TV show about the best way to keep the peace at the dinner table this year between liberal and conservative family members during the holidays: “Just don’t go there!” Maher suggested the time of “talk to the other side so we can hear each other’s point of view” is the absolute wrong thing to do. “No! It never works! No one ever flips to your side! Talk to them, yes, but not about politics!”

While this is something I don’t agree with completely — it is important to talk to each other when it is appropriate — the message is still accurate: No politics! There is a time and place for political discussions, and dinner time around the table catching up with family members is not it. Maybe the reason why we hate Thanksgiving and having to see distant family members is because all we do is argue politics? Maybe we are the ones who go in looking for a fight and are easily triggered? What if we are the problem?

This year think of something you can discuss with every member of your family and focus on those topics and see how quickly your image of Uncle Bob and Aunt Margie changes when you talk about something besides Democrats versus Republicans. If someone else throws out Trump or Hillary’s name, politely remind them, “Come on now, no politics this year, please.” And steer the conversation in another direction. Talk about something everyone can get into. “Did anyone see the new Halloween movie?” “How about those Red Sox?” “Any new shows on Netflix you can recommend?” No good can come from bringing up Trump, Hillary, protests, marches, movements or the elections. Look at Thanksgiving as less of a battlefield and more of a sanctuary. Use your time together to build bridges and create bonds with family members who may have angered you in the past and start over. Take this as a chance to turn negative images into positive ones. Also take this as a chance to repair your own image in your family’s eyes. Show them you won’t fight with everyone every time the family gets together.

If all else fails and you feel like you absolutely must discuss and debate politics with everyone who disagrees with you, then maybe a Friendsgiving with like-minded buddies is better; removing yourself to ease tensions and keep the peace is better than pouring gasoline onto that fire. If you do find yourself outnumbered, out of topics to change the subject, and out of patience…bring a pair of headphones, whip out your phone, and watch some Netflix. If you have done everything you can on your part, just pat yourself on the back, take a short walk outside, distract yourself with a TV show, and whatever you do, “Just don’t go there!”

About the Author:

Brian Moniz is a 30-year-old man from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner. Read more by Brian here.