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Channel Your Despair — Register Young People to Vote

Pride and Latinx Voter Engagement

It's hard to see life beyond the daily onslaught of horrible news. Monica Trasandes of GLAAD knows how you can lift your spirit.

It happened at the end of a GLAAD Media Institute training session in a standard meeting room, with nearly empty boxes of cookies and doughnuts on a back table next to a big silver urn of coffee that filled the room with a familiar smell. As people helped clean up, I heard a young activist quietly say to another, "I didn't know how to help her, but I had to do something. She was alone. Her husband was deported. She had no one."

The young activist was talking about helping an undocumented woman gain access to medical services. It turned out the activist herself was also undocumented. Yet she was ready to help others and, moreover, do media interviews to call attention to the pain and fear confronting another person. She was willing to risk her own safety for others.

These are the kinds of individuals I am beyond privileged to meet through my work at the GLAAD Media Institute. They make me both proud and hopeful -- and honestly, I need hope more than I need pride right now.

The challenges progressives face, like anti-LGBTQ legislation and anti-immigrant fervor, can feel insurmountable and seem to grow taller every day, like the border fence Donald Trump dreams of building. There are societal issues, like the pain of watching families separated and not knowing if they will ever be reunited, enduring racism, and legislative issues, like the almost daily horror of gun violence and the stubborn unwillingness to study the police's role in mass incarceration.

If I think about it too long, it makes me want to dig a hole and jump in. The only reason I resist the urge is that I can imagine how much pleasure it would give to those who oppose decency, kindness, and even democracy if we run for the hills because of how painful things have become. We're stronger than that.

I often think of the words "They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds." I find tremendous hope in the "seeds" sprouting all around us, from Ferguson activists to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School activists. Individuals, like Dreamers, Pulse survivors, and the Sandy Hook community understand the importance of persistence and of fighting for their vision of a better world.

Persistence is the most important tool we can have in this fight and the hardest one to preserve. It can seem as if we've lost sight of the values that have made this country such a shining beacon for so long. In fact, this country does not belong to those who embrace hate or division -- their voices are just loud right now. This country belongs to those who are generous and strong and visionary.

Our voices, the voices of fairness and kindness and compassion, must grow more multitudinous. This is one of the reasons why GLAAD created the Amp Your Voice Action Center. The center helps young people around this country organize to engage younger generations in the legislative process by voting and participating in the political process. The aim is that through participation and engagement, every single person in high school or college who wants to do more can do more. If eligible voters exercise their right, our country will continue to grow and evolve in the amazing ways it has for generations and generations.

Activists all over this country work hard every day to protect and care for those in need. In them, in their fearlessness, their empathy, and their strength, I find hope.

MONICA TRASANDES was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but grew up in California. She earned a BA in international relations from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. Monica has worked as a reporter and a magazine editor and is also an author whose novel, Broken Like This, was published in 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press.

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Monica Trasandes