Living for the Apocalypse

Living for the Apocalypse

 From gas masks to tilapia ponds, the families on Sunday August 28’s TLC one-hour special, Livin’ for the Apocalypse offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it means to prepare for the end of civilization as we know it. With headlines touting the world's latest natural disasters, cultural doomsday predictions, and economic collapses, it’s no surprise some families are preparing for the worst. But, a nice bonus: a transgender woman, Jackie, and her friend Gidget are part of the family survivalists profiled on the series. Jackie (who chose not to disclose her last name) talks to the Advocate about growing up poor, planning for the worst, and exposing herself to TV critics.

You’re a believer in self-sufficiency. How did you get to that philosophy?

I came from a very poor family. We mostly lived on farms. We survived on what my dad could grow and raise, and what my momma canned and dried. I can remember many weeks of eating only beans and we were glad to have that to eat. I remember that at the age 10, my younger brother and I had to be the horse and pull the plow so my dad could get his crops in. We all worked in the fields and the garden. It was a hard life but we learned the value of work ethic. I moved out and was on my own at the age of fourteen and got my own job and place to live. I have worked and been on my own ever since.

How much did growing up in the ‘80s during the nuclear fear affect your feelings about being prepared for the worst?
I wasn't really concerned about anything nuclear at that time, but I was in the Navy and our submarine had nuclear warheads.

How is your home and family able to survive an apocalypse?
We have enough dried foods — not pre-packaged, dehydrated yucky things — for two people to survive for two years. We also have a thousand gallons of water, but we really need another thousand gallons. Gidget has two grown children and her elderly mother to care for, so the food will be divided between all of us. We hope to be able to get enough fuel to cook with and wood to heat with. As far as anything nuclear, we don't have the finances and supplies for bunkers and supplies. Gidget and I are also in bad physical health, so we both feel that we are too old to help rebuild the country.

Why is this sort of living important now?
We both feel our
economy will collapse in the next few years. There will be civil unrest
here and, of course, looting. If we lose electricity, this will move
at a faster pace, as everyone pretty much uses some electricity. No gas,
ATMs, phones, or the ability to go to the grocery stores.

should folks do to better protect themselves? Do you have to live in a
house in order to be safe? It’s hard to store water in a studio
apartment, for example.

It is most helpful to live in a home for
storing things. Food can be stored in something as simple as an end
table. You can also double insulate walls with food storage buckets.
But if you live in a small place, you can rent a unit to store what you
will need. Be sure it is close by and you are able to get to it at any
time. I would also recommend storing living supplies in the storage
unit, as you may end up having to live in it for a period of time.

Why did you decide to go on the TLC show and expose your beliefs? Any concerns you’d be exploited or criticized?

Since Gidget is the prepper, for the most part, she agreed to do the
TLC show. I am sort of shy, so I wasn't so sure at first, but when
director Nick Lee came to film us, he was so nice and gentle. We could
really be ourselves and we had a lot of fun. My biggest fear is that
most folks think we're nutty, but we know that we're doing the right
thing in the long run. As far as the gender comments, they don't bother
me as much anymore. I am used to it. But Gidget is very protective and
it really hackles her up if she hears of reads any negative comments
about me.

How do you deal with needs for medication like hormones in an apocalypse?
worry about medications. For what you usually need each month, you need
an RX from the doctor. Next year, we plan to go to Mexico to try and
stock up. Gidget is a diabetic and needs her meds — insulin is a big
issue because it needs to be refrigerated. We are hoping to eventually
get a solar generator to help with that issue. For antibiotics, the feed
stores have the same medications that they use for humans. The same
goes for fish supply stores. We can also order them online.