For some, it is the most wonderful time of the year… but for me and other closeted LGBT+ kids, it’s quite the opposite. It’s already hard enough during the rest of the year as we have to hide our sexuality from our parents, especially if we live with them. However, family gatherings are even worse. We get asked if we have a boyfriend/girlfriend (with our relatives assuming we are straight), why we’re still single, etc. If our family is literally homophobic, we might even hear some nasty comments about LGBT+ people. Not exactly what you want to listen to at the dinner table, right ? So if this is your case, here are a few things to remember as you go through this difficult period of time.
Your family’s opinion doesn’t define you. This is difficult to realize but so important. Your family’s close-minded opinions about your gender or sexual orientation do not matter. I realize that being surrounded by hateful people, especially at this time of the year, is very difficult. But you need to remember that these opinions do not diminish you, and that you are 100% valid the way you are. And if your Uncle Kevin decides to rant about how much gay people bother him, just let him. Trust me, I know it’s hard, but your safety is more important than being a good activist in that situation. If you can calmly call your homophobic relatives out, do it, but don’t put yourself in danger.
This won’t last forever. You won’t be closeted your whole life. At one point when you’re ready, you will decide to come out – or, if your family is as close-minded as mine, you probably simply won’t see them anymore. You will build your own, real family with the person you love, and those difficult family gatherings won’t need to happen anymore. And if you’re lucky enough that your family accept your gender or sexual orientation, you won’t have to hide ever again.
Take care of yourself. This is probably the most difficult one, but trust me, it’s important. Being closeted for a long time or being surrounded by homophobic people is really upsetting and you might tend to feel depressed or stressed. But please, do make sure you take care of yourself; eat plenty of good food, stick around the relatives you trust more than the others (if you have any), and take the time to call or text a friend. Remember that this is only a short period of time. Soon the holidays will be over and you won’t have to pretend or hide anymore.
In conclusion, please keep in mind that your family’s opinion does not invalidate who you are. Close-minded people are everywhere and, unfortunately, you happen to have some of them in your own family. And it sucks, but just because these people are related to you does not mean that their opinions matter. You are a valid human being regardless of your gender or sexuality, and if some people don’t understand that, it’s their problem. In the meantime, take care of yourself, and enjoy your holiday season as much as you can.