Friday, December 16, 2016

People find solace from post-election blues on Facebook's "Pantsuit Nation," and through local events and marches

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 3:15 PM

click to enlarge Pantsuit Nation began as a Facebook group for Hillary supporters, and since has continued growing as a community of support and acceptance.
  • Pantsuit Nation began as a Facebook group for Hillary supporters, and since has continued growing as a community of support and acceptance.

Each time I scroll through my carefully curated Facebook newsfeed — a less "social" one that's filled with lots of news media and local businesses' postings (it comes with the job here) — I always pause to read the stories shared by members of the group Pantsuit Nation.

A "secret" Facebook group created by and for supporters of Hillary Clinton in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election, I was late to discover the online collective. It now boasts more than 3.9 million members, and continues to grow, with nearly twice the members it had a month ago. Think of it as something akin to a "Humans of New York"-style mouthpiece for the many disaffected people out there watching in utter dismay and shock as one more major donor or industry CEO is named to Donald Trump's cabinet, or when they see any other litany of headlines regarding the president-elect.

As Trump's inauguration a month from now looms heavy over the heads of Pantsuit Nation's millions — PSN for short — I have noticed men and women from all backgrounds continue to seek solace, understanding and acceptance in the forum. Despite reading heartrending tales of social injustices, sexism and racism that seem too familiar now, most sentiments so openly shared there have, in my eyes, been stories of hope and comfort.

While the online PSN community spans across the nation, local groups in the Inland Northwest have also been gathering post-election to express support, outrage and acceptance.

Earlier this month, Spokane arts nonprofit Terrain held RALLY, a community art display and gathering for locals to talk about and creatively express whatever they're feeling following the 2016 election. Art for RALLY is on display through Inauguration Day (Jan. 20), and a second show and art-making night is set for this Monday, Dec. 19, from 6-9 pm.
Then, next month, on the day after Trump's inauguration, local organizers are staging a Women's March at downtown Spokane's Convention Center as part of a nationwide solidarity movement. The Saturday, Jan. 21 march (that link goes to the event's official Facebook page) invites "people of all gender identities, ethnicities, ages, abilities, religions and sexual orientations."

Besides getting involved locally in whatever way you feel inclined, I personally encourage anyone reading this to join Pantsuit Nation (an existing member will need to approve your request) and read its frequent member posts, if only to become better acquainted with both the plights and proud moments of your fellow country men and women during a time in which many of us are questioning and worrying about the future without cease. Below I've share a few especially profound recent posts from Pantsuit Nation. Enjoy.

From a story by one user sharing her Mexican immigrant mother's recent citizenship:
"Mom became a U.S. Citizen this morning. That's Dad in the back, walking beside her. They've been married for 30 years. He became a Citizen in March. They were both afraid of what a Trump administration might do. Today, Obama via video welcomed 2,301 individuals immediately after they made an oath to this country. Mom was 11 when she came from Mexico, Dad was 16. They are now 51 and 60, respectively. My father picked almonds and grapes, then he Dj'd at parties playing Michael Jackson. Everyone always went crazy for Michael, he says. Mom sold clothes. Dad, tried buying jeans and he didn't even know how to ask for the right size. He hadn't learned how to say 28 yet. They now own homes across California; my Dad is a real estate broker. He has his own office. He drives clients around Los Angeles in his new Prius. Each and every single time he sells a house he takes a photo of the people and their new home, and he celebrates them, often buying them a bottle of something to enjoy. My dad helps people find their dream homes."
— Victor Elan Vazquez 
Words of encouragement from a 70-year-old white man in Texas:
"I am a white 70 year old veteran gun owner living in Texas. I drive a red GMC pickup and my favorite music is Texas-Country & Western. I was born in the Little Dixie part of Oklahoma where my family made moonshine and where I learned to cuss so much I make sailors blush. And I am a Roman Catholic. And I have never voted for a Republican and don't see how I ever could. The best boss I ever had was a woman and I think women should be paid the same as men and sometimes more. I think that what a woman does with her body is no business for old white men like me to decide. I think if two folks love and cherish one another no matter the race or sex then let them get married and leave them alone. I don't hate people because of their religion but I intensely dislike and am suspicious of fundamentalist Christians. So there. I just wanted the folks in this group to there are men like me out there even if we are few and in between."
— Ron Duckworth
The following is excerpted from a story shared by a member of the LGBT community:
"I come from a small farming community in rural southern Illinois. Culture is a throat swab at the small-town clinic.
The head dragon of the KKK lived out on highway 185 by my grandparent's house - and every year there would be a rally complete with hoods and a burning cross.
My Southern Baptist church, where I had been born and raised, asked me to leave and not come back until I wasn't gay.
I was fearful and disgusted. I felt... misplaced.
When I graduated from high school 26 years ago, I moved away and vowed to never come back. I wanted to change the world, and I thought I had to be in a big city to do that. So I moved to St. Louis where I knew I would be met with an LGBT community.
I met my wife in 2007, and in 2010 we traveled to Iowa to get legally married, as it was one of only 5 states that allowed same sex marriage. Shortly thereafter, my grandfather passed away and his house became available. So… we moved back to Vandalia, IL.
I have no regrets. Because although there are a ridiculous number of Trump signs in yards all over this town, I have learned that in changing the world, that’s where you must go to CHANGE it. Sometimes you have to go into the dark places and shine.That is what we strive to do."
— Summer Osbourne

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