The Moment I Realized I Was Raising My Kids To Be Activists

When You’re A Queer Family Trapped In The Middle Of A Trump Parade

October 28, 2020 Updated October 29, 2020

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Collectively my kids needed enough stuff to warrant a trip out of the house to run errands. Hand-me-downs and online shopping are great, but we needed stuff that is best tried on and held before purchase. All three kids needed boots. My son needed masks that wouldn’t make him lose his shit when his favorite isn’t clean, and my oldest needed pants that didn’t give her “major wedgies,” are soft, and “baggy” at the ankles. Tweens are fun.

We loaded ourselves into the van, and while getting out at our first stop, we heard horns honking and engines revving. We looked around to see if there was an old fashioned car rally that happens in our town once in a while. Old Mustangs and Chevy Corvettes will ride through town, then their owners will park themselves in a lot to socialize and kick tires, I imagine.

This was a different car rally but with people with very old fashioned ideas about what makes America great. My queer family was witnessing a Trump parade, and would end up being stuck in the middle of it while running our errands.

“Idiots,” I muttered, and became instantly angry at the pride and self-righteousness with which Trump supporters carry themselves—so much so that they organize themselves to drive through towns to wave their giant Trump flags, honk their horns, and hang out of windows to cheer for a man who breeds and encourages bigotry and violence. One truck had a life-sized Melania cardboard cutout tied to its roof.

It was shocking how similar all of the people looked: white, middle-aged and older, and seemingly male. There were some women riding shotgun and a few kids were shouting out of backseat windows, but there was no sign of diversity or compassion in the people who occupied the SUVs and trucks. It reminded me of a giant circle jerk of insecure boys making noise to get the approval and attention they crave.

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My kids heard me and looked around to see why I was so disgusted. They quickly interpreted the scene and were enraged too. All three of my kids started talking at once. What the heck? Ugh! I hate Trump. Why do people like him? Trump’s an idiot! He makes me want to punch someone. That last one came from my 9-year-old, and while I told her I agree, I made a point to say that violence shouldn’t be our first and only reaction to people and subjects we don’t like. We are better than that, I told her.

I know my kids don’t support Trump, but their primal instinct to feel threatened and angry surprised me. Their lack of respect runs deeper than taking on my open opinions about this current administration. Suddenly I fully understood the impact of Trump on their young lives when my oldest said, “It makes me sad that so many people think like him.”

My kids are very aware they are part of a LGBTQIA+ family, and they have zero chill for anyone who would vote against queer rights. I am transgender and so is one of my kids. My kids pointed out that we have yet to see a Trump flag next to a rainbow or trans flag. We have never seen a Black Lives Matter sign in the yard of a Trump supporter either. My son pointed out that the only flags we ever see are the “ones for the police” and the American flag, which confused him. My Ben is seven, but has always had the gentle soul of a wise old man. He is the most empathetic of my three children and his desire for fairness usually keeps him calm and thoughtful, but Ben was rolling down his window, booing, and making eye contact while giving people a giant thumbs down. He was still wearing his mask in the van because kids fucking get it and know masks save lives; he is so used to wearing it that he had forgotten to take it off. He knows exactly what is fair and was pissed by the inequities Trump promotes.

I mentioned that Trump supporters sometimes use the American flag as a symbol of nationalism instead of patriotism. They aren’t just proud to be their version of American but also want power to determine what America should look like according to their values. I said there isn’t anything wrong with displaying the American flag, but it’s wrong to use it to intimidate others. Seeing Trump supporters wave the flag felt like they were trying to take back something that didn’t belong to only them. The kids and I talked about how if we didn’t support Trump, then to them, that meant we didn’t support America.

As we ran errands, the parade of Trumpers were in and out of traffic and even stopped at one of the stores where we were. “That’s one of the Trump people,” my daughter hissed. “I’m glad we don’t have any of them in our neighborhood.” We do have them in our neighborhood, I told her. I also told her that they have always been kind to us and we will always be kind to them. However, I echoed what she said earlier and told her that it made me angry and sad that they would vote for someone who doesn’t support families like ours. It’s like we are being forced to get to know people so against marginalized folks—mostly for our safety and to know what we are up against—yet they aren’t willing to really get to know us well enough to change the way they think and vote.
As we made our way to our final stop, there were a few Trump cars to our right and two directly behind us. My kids asked if they could put down the windows to yell at them. I had a moment of fear and told them no. Then we heard a woman screaming from our left. “FUCK DONALD TRUMP! FUCK TRUMP!” The Trumpers honked and waved at her and I felt guilty for not supporting her somehow. We rolled down our windows and waved and cheered for her, and when she started to chant “Biden-Harris!” we did too. Our minivan was filled with passion and a very clear sense of what is right and what needs to be fixed. I don’t want to brainwash my kids into believing anything, and will always encourage them to make decisions on their own based on their explorations. In that moment, I knew I am raising activists who will stand for all of humanity and not just one way to be human. I’m proud to have kids who are aware of how politics influence our lives and how their beliefs can affect politics.
We turned into the store parking lot and the Trump parade carried on in another direction. With the flags out of sight, my kids asked if they could call Trump the F word. I didn’t say no.