The election outcome has spurred a wave of fear among our LGBTQ kids.

“We were unusually busy last night," said Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director at the Trevor Project on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

As the 2016 election drew to a close in the late hours of Nov. 8, 2016, many young LBGTQ kids were left in despair.  The Trevor Project is an LGBTQ youth crisis intervention organization, and they were just one of many groups our country desperately needed as the clock ticked toward the declaration of a president-elect Trump.

“People are very anxious about what happened," Mendelsohn says. "People are likely scared that their rights are going to be taken away.”


A woman sheds tears at Clinton's election night event in New York. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender kids are particularly vulnerable right now and have been for the entire election cycle.

Kids were listening when Trump suggested nominating Supreme Court justices who would reverse the decision on marriage equality. They learned about his running mate, Mike Pence, who supports conversion therapy — which is a form of child abuse — and who approved a religious freedom bill that discriminated against people like them.

“LGBTQ youth felt vulnerable throughout the entire campaign when they listened to the rhetoric coming from many of the candidates," Mendelsohn said. "The outcome of the campaign did not make them feel comforted.”

Crisis Text Line, which allows anyone in despair to connect to a counselor through their phone, reported double the volume of texts in the 24 hours following the election. "Election" and "scared" were two words mentioned most by those who texted in. The most prevalent words associated with one another were "scared" and "LGBT."

The day after the election, several transgender kids reportedly committed suicide in the wake of Trump's win.

Image via iStock.

If you are a young LGBTQ person feeling hopeless right now, know that most Americans are standing with you.

This week, more of us voted for a candidate who fights for LGBTQ people and their protections than for the candidate who won (the president-elect won in the Electoral College votes, not the popular vote). Americans — particularly young people — believe in your equality.

If our future president wants to take away your rights, he's going to have to go through the American people first.

If you know a young LGBTQ person, don't just assume they're OK.

They may need to hear your voice right now, even if they haven't shown it. “The most important thing [allies] can do is to let their loved ones know that they’re there for them," Mendelsohn said. "To actually reach out to them and say, ‘I care about you, I love you, and I’m here to help anytime you need me.’"

You can also learn more about the Trevor Project and support the work that they do.

If you are anyone else who's feeling helpless and scared, know that you are not alone.

We've watched an unprecedented campaign built on xenophobia, misogyny, and racism win the election this week. Many of us are feeling vulnerable, anxious, and scared — and rightfully so. Remember that the majority of Americans are in your corner, and we're going to fight like hell for you, your rights, and your future.

We can't think ourselves to a better place on our own, though, and that's OK. There are people who are here to help for exactly that reason.

If you are a young LGBTQ person in crisis, don't suffer in silence. Someone who loves you is waiting one phone call away, day or night, at The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386.

To contact Trans Lifeline, a hotline staffed by and aimed at helping transgender people, call 877-565-8860.

To anyone else in need, Crisis Text Line is there for you, 24/7: Text START to 741741. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available at 800-273-8255.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."