I’m a colored person living in Palo Alto. Everyone who sees me knows I’m colored. What many don’t know is that I’m also bisexual. But what almost everyone doesn’t know is that I’m adopted by two Asian parents. When I saw who won the presidential election, I was scared. Not just because my rights as a colored LGBTQ person may be revoked during the upcoming presidency, but also because my parents are radical Trump supporters and I feel as if my voice is silenced at home. They don’t understand why I’m not as elated as they are, and continue to poke at my political views. I can’t tell them I’m liberal or else risk harsh disapproval, but at the same time I feel silenced by them, by my peers and the outcome of the vote. What should I do?
— POLITICALLY INCORRECT
DEAR POLITICALLY INCORRECT,
No matter your color, gender, sexual preference, opinions nor anything else that you were born with or choose to identify with, you have a right to be safe. I can understand feeling very uneasy and perhaps afraid in the wake of recent political events, namely the election.
I will not offer any sort of political opinion, but I will remind you that it’s your right to be scared, and it is very much okay to be. I’m scared too, for perhaps the same or different reasons. You aren’t alone, and you wouldn’t be no matter what your views were.
It is extremely difficult to be facing potential discrimination from impending events. Know that no one has the right to ever take away your rights: to speak, to form opinions or to do what makes you happy.
There’s a lot of controversy right now, for sure. It is important not to get sucked into the opinions of others — it is and always has been up to you entirely to make your judgments of the events occurring at this time in your life. Your judgment belongs to no one else nor is owed in favor of any sort of way. It is important for you to form your own opinions as to what you believe is behind all of the smoke and mirrors — your parents, peers and community should not be the ones shaping who you are though you may feel a lot of influence one way or another.
It’s uncomfortable to be in a minority, racially, sexually, politically or otherwise, and solutions are scarcely addressed. These are some topics that are often the proverbial “elephant in the room” since many simply don’t know how to talk about them. This effect can be felt perhaps more strongly in Palo Alto since most desire to be politically correct at all times. It can often feel as if we aren’t talking about topics that need to be addressed which results in awkwardness when these topics arise.
In reality, this affects you because you are the one affected by many of the misconceptions and ignorance regarding stereotypes of your respective minorities. You might have to be more resilient than most people, and that is an unfair social consequence of being in those minorities. But no matter who you are, there are others you can lean on for support.
At the end of the day, you can be stronger than people that try to drag you down. Your differences provide you with unique perspectives that should be celebrated, even if you don’t desire to stand out from the collective.
What we can all do is strive to make the world a more accepting place. Easier said than done, most definitely, but we can each take a step in that direction and collectively we will have the power to change history. Messages of love and acceptance need to become more widespread than those of fear and hatred no matter where you live, who you are or what is happening in the political sphere.
You can begin this journey within yourself. Take some time to care about yourself, and step back from the drama. You need room to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are loved and lovable. Only then can you begin to truly accept yourself and all of your opinions.
This is a big deal, and it can take years. You don’t have to accomplish this alone. This is a crucial time to turn to trusted peers and adults if you have them in your immediate situation. If you don’t, there are many more people more than willing to support you if you need it. Support centers are a call away, and I will provide the numbers at the end of this article. Counselors are ready and willing to help you at school in the Wellness Center. Adolescent Counseling Services are also available during school days. It is very admirable of you to admit that you need help, and even if it can be very uncomfortable to reach out, trust me, nothing is more important than your health.
Once you begin to accept yourself, you can look at other people’s unaccepting natures through a different lens. We all have our reasons for our opinions, and we all have our opinions. Your parents have different ones than yours, but that doesn’t mean they have to conflict. Their job is to take care of you and raise you.
Staunching your opinions is not an area they should be stepping into.
It may be extremely tough if your views don’t align with your parents’. Sure, other people with different opinions may bother you, but your parents, adoptive or not, often have the most influence on you. It’s going to take a lot of courage to stand up and break any silence that you may feel is imposed upon you. But if you are compromising your mental health now, that should be a sure sign that things at home need to be righted.
Political beliefs are a small thing compared to one’s value as a human being. Your parents should not hurt you emotionally or hate you over trivial political beliefs. It is unfair that you have to go through this — your parents are at fault for acting inappropriately, not you. If conflicts at home don’t resolve or worsen, talk to someone immediately. Talk to friends, teachers, counselors or whomever you trust, but reach out to someone.
At the end of the day, never let anyone make you feel silenced or oppressed about any aspect of you — you are an amazing person who deserves the right to think or feel any way they choose. Certainly in this situation you can choose to do nothing at all, and that is perfectly okay. Just make sure that you are taking care of yourself, because it can be very difficult to face the situation you’re in.
It is unfortunate to say the least that people still refuse to accept everyone for who they are. For now, there are more important things than the presidency. You may not be able to change the outcome of the election, but do make your voice heard if you feel you need to do that. You can express yourself in so many ways, including voicing political beliefs, having conversations with people you trust and spreading messages of kindness or other values through your actions.
A most important aspect of your life is going to be how you deal with other people and their beliefs. You may be afraid or have many other emotions regarding other people and their opinions, which may or may not be stirred by the election. What needs to be righted are harmful stereotypes and misconceptions of societal aspects, because they are the ones that have indirect or direct effects for you. This is a tall order and our people can only begin to become more fair and just little by little. And this journey — it starts with you.
Be kind, be loving, be accepting and be strong. Nobody else can oppress you if you accept yourself for who you truly are, and you need to allow yourself to do that, no matter who society may say today. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming years, and it is on us to create positive change.
Mental Health Service Administration Helpline: 1-800-662-4357
Crisis Hotline: 1-855-278-4204
LGBT National Youth Hotline: 1-800-246-7743
LGBT National Hotline: 1-800-843-4564
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
7Cups: A chat site with an online therapist to discuss your problems: https://www.7cups.com/