On 2017: Countering Bad News With Gratitude

Today, the last Tuesday of 2016, I imagine many of you share in two things I’m feeling: gratitude for a holiday weekend spent with family, and trepidation about what 2017 will bring.

I joined Family Equality Council in August of this year, a time when the political landscape felt turbulent and unpredictable, but when few of us imagined that the LGBTQ community — and all marginalized or oppressed communities — would be facing such an uncertain or daunting future in the coming year. As Director of Communications, my job is to create spaces for conversation between our supporters and our staff, spaces where Family Equality Council can fulfill our promise to keep you informed and engaged in our shared struggle for lived and legal equality for LGBTQ families (both those that exist and those yet to be formed). Beyond our existing supporters, donors, staff, and Board, however, these conversations must be broader and must reach more people: those in positions of power that can influence the legal and legislative landscape, our family members who are not yet active allies, our neighbors, school committee members, and healthcare providers.

Since the election, I’ve faced the same challenge every day: how should we balance the steady stream of bad news and indications of struggles ahead with our commitment, as an organization, to hold firm to optimism, openness, and a willingness to seize new opportunities?

Over the past month, the steady stream of bad news has expanded to a river approaching flood stage. Last week, we published a careful accounting of the anti-LGBTQ records of four key cabinet nominees, and I regret to say this is just the tip of the iceberg of political and legal threats we face in 2017. Hence the challenge: how do we balance the need to keep you informed of the threats, while not blotting out the light that shines from our victories and successes?

The answer I keep coming back to is gratitude. To balance the negativity of our political and media environment, we can choose to elevate gratitude and thanks in our conversations: gratitude for good bills introduced, for outspoken allies, and for workplaces that take a stand for equality. Thankfulness for everyday acts of solidarity, for stories shared, and for community ties strengthened.

In November, we made three commitments to you, our supporters:

  • to do everything in our power to keep you and your families safe and to protect your rights;
  • to be vigilant, watching for any attempts to roll back protections or infringe upon the rights of our community; and
  • to be ready to engage and to hope for the best, but to remain prepared for the worst.

Today, with my Director of Communications hat on, I want to add one more commitment:

  • that we will keep our hopeful spirit of gratitude alive even as we head into 2017.

We cannot, and will not, let threats to our community drown out our love for outspoken, proud acts of LGBTQ visibility, resilience, and success.

Remember: none of us can do the work that must be done without one another’s support. Fighting for existing LGBTQ families and those yet to be formed is a team effort, and we need you on our side. Make a donation to our end of year campaign today.