For many people the holiday season is about seeing family, spending quality time with them and being comfortable at home with your loved ones. Many people, like me, look forward to this time of the year as for them it is about love and family. But not everyone is that lucky. For a lot of people, this time of the years is a cause of pain and anxiety, maybe even a feeling of loss or a constant game of hiding. For many queer people around the world, coming home for the holidays is not an easy task and some might not even have the chance to go back home.
There are different reasons why the holiday season is not a cause of joy for many LGBTQ+ people. Maybe you are not out to your family and are going back into the closet during that time. Either because you don’t know how they will react, or you do and it won’t be positive. The holiday dinners are also a “great” time for people to ask about your personal life, including your love life. If you are not out to them, it is presumed you would want to date someone from the opposite gender, so people are either forced to out themselves or lie. Some might not be able to tell their family out of fear and because it might put them in danger. As sad as it is, there are still many people who will kick their gay children out and not accept them. So not being open is oftentimes a safety measure for queer children. Some parents might know their child is queer but will not let them bring their partner home to celebrate. Even if your immediate family is accepting, the holidays usually mean you will also see extended family members who might not be.
Getting into arguments or having to pretend to be someone you are not can be exhausting. Many family members all together who do not see each other that often is a melting pot of opinions and a catalyst for fights (not always, but often). I am lucky to have an amazing family who support me with anything I do. But, there are also family members I am not out to for different reasons, but none of them are because I think I would be in danger. There are also extended family members to whom none of my immediate family speak at all (for different reasons, but I also know 100 percent, they would not accept me as queer) and I do not see it as a loss. It’s their loss. Unfortunately, a hostile environment is still an issue for many and the holiday season is not always jolly and fun for the LGBTQ+ community.
Whatever you situation is, the most important thing is that you are safe. If you go back to a family that is not accepting and it might be easier to hide your true self, I am so sorry, but it’s oftentimes better to be safe then sorry for now, especially if you are younger and don’t have an alternative at the moment. Of course, if there is a safe space where you can go and be yourself, that is so much better, because no one should have to pretend to be someone that they are not. We in the LGBTQ+ community often build our own little family with other queer friends and depending on where you live, there are for sure other people like you. So know that you are not alone and that there are many people out there who will be your family if you need them to be. If you are grown and are independent from your parents and your home environment is toxic or harmful, please know that no one can force you to be there. If you understandably do not have the nerve to deal with bigoted family members that is totally fine. If you are unhappy there and people do not accept you for who you are it is their loss and you don’t have to go. There are many great things one can do during this seasons and most likely you will have people in your life who also do not want to go home for different reasons. Also, if you have accepting parents but extended family members are bigoted another option is to talk to your immediate family and have a small party with just them. Who says, you need to invite every aunt and uncle and other relatives. If they do not want to respect you in your own home, they have no right to be there.
There is a big, rainbow-colored family waiting for you
All of this sounds rather grim, but unfortunately it is the reality for many LGBTQ+ people. I truly hope, it is not the way it is for you. Of course, there is also the other option if you are not out to your family. Having everyone together to celebrate might be a way of finally being out and proud and telling them who you are. While there are many bad apples out there, I also think we sometimes give some people not enough credit. Maybe your family welcomes you with open arms and having a holiday where you can be your authentic self would for sure be the best gift.
If you are not out yet and are worried about it (trust me, I have been there), I hope your holiday wish comes true and you can be yourself and if not, I am here and millions of other queer people who will welcome you with open arms if you need us.
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Photo: both via Unsplash