Homophobic relatives, bad presents, too many carbs – Christmas can be a minefield for the LGBTQ community. Here’s our ultimate survival guide to those festive family get-togethers.
1. Keep yourself busy.
If you’re being forced to see people you don’t want to see, bring something to do. Be sure to bring your cell phone charger, some headphones, a book, a notebook, or maybe a handheld video game? Just bring something that makes you happy, and that can distract you if things start going sour.
2. Have a safety plan.
This is another tip if you’re being forced to see someone you don’t want to. Make sure to have a third party person (like a friend, or someone you trust) that you can call at any point during your family gathering to pick you up if needed. Nothing is worse than getting into a dangerous situation with no plan. I usually go by the motto of “plan for the worst, but hope for the best.”
3. Chosen family is still family.
If you have no biological family that you can spend the holidays with, try to find someone in your area that you can spend the holidays with. Check to see if your local LGBT center is hosting any events. Some centers may even offer a gift exchange program. If you live in a rural area with little resources check out some online groups. You may find a group of people who are also in your situation. Finding comfort in other people who share the same struggles is helpful for a lot of folks.
4. Don’t be afraid to say no.
If you’re old enough to reject invitations, know that you have the right to say no. You do not have to see people you do not want to see around the holidays. Do not let people emotionally manipulate you into seeing someone who you don’t feel comfortable interacting with. Trust your gut feeling, and do what you think is right.
5. Practice self-care.
When going through a difficult time, self-care is one if the best things you can do to help yourself. So please be nice to yourself. If you family disowned you because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, know that it isn’t your fault. Movie theaters tend to be open on Christmas day, as well as Chinese food restaurants. If you know Christmas Day is going to be emotional, treat yourself to a movie and a nice dinner.
6. Validate your feelings.
Keep reminding yourself that it is okay to feel the way that you’re feeling. Don’t let your folks make you feel bad for having feelings. Go within your comfort levels, and be firm about what you want and need. Try to surround yourself with positive people. Some find that talking about will allow you to open up, and release these negative feelings in a safe environment.
The holiday season can be a rough time for many LGBTQ folks. Know that it’s only a season and that these feelings are temporary. It’s not always going to be like this. One day you’re going to look back on yourself and be proud. Having the courage to be yourself also makes you extremely brave. So please, stay strong, take care of yourself, and hope that everything works out in your favor this season.