Every year, I watch as younger and younger kids come out to their families. Now kids are coming out in kindergarten. Our world is slowing changing for the better in that regard. When I was a child, no-one was coming out that I knew, and when I went to college and finally did come out, it was the same for all my friends. College was a new world where we could start to be ourselves just a little bit, without as great a fear of rejection or bullying. This was a time of whispers and warnings as well: we traded tips on how to come out to family, stories of how it went (sometimes, far too frequently, not too well).
Holidays were rough. We held our own “family” holiday dinners for all the kids who couldn’t go home or who had to hide who they really were when they did.
That’s changed a lot. For many of you this time of year is wonderful. Just like those sickening holiday commercials that keep interrupting my favorite TV shows on Hulu. There are smiling nuclear families eating lots of American-looking food and opening piles of presents. There is also snow, but in moderation, and lots of soft light, glowing closeups of people’s faces. If that is your holiday experience, good for you. You can stop reading now. Those of you already reaching for the wine, bourbon, or pouring a little jim beam in your coffee, this is for you.
I haven’t spend a holiday in my parents’ home in 10 years, so I speak from experience (or the conscious and deliberate lack of it, I guess). This little holiday survival list is brought to you via hard-won experience.
- Consider staying home. Seriously, if the thought of spending the holidays with your blood relations makes you want to go on a bender, being alone is preferable.
- Make or find your own chosen family. Good friends who don’t treat you like shit or hate part of you are worth far more than people with similar genetic material whose love and support is conditional or passive aggressively abusive. Blow-up dolls are also an acceptable substitute and they don’t talk shit behind your back.
- Create your own traditions that involve things that make you feel happy and loved.
- If you must go to family events, don’t be ashamed to dull the pain a little with your drug of choice, just be careful not to overdo it. No one wants to be that guy at a family function, especially if your goal was to go mercifully unnoticed.
- Develop a roster of “safe topics”. Become a master of changing the subject.
- Come up with snarky comebacks to shitty passive aggressive comments from family, redirect it so the burn lands on them, not you.
- Don’t be afraid to be a little mean. If they are a smidge afraid of you and your wit, they will give you a wider berth.
- The internet and your phone is your friend, bury yourself in a positive and supportive online world. Sometimes for queer people an online space is one of our only safe spaces.
- Find an ally in your extended family and hang out with them as much as possible.
- Hide in the kitchen.
- Have food on hand at all times so you can take a bite to avoid screaming obscenities.
- Scream obscenities and just be done with it.
- Finally, If your family doesn’t love or accept your sexualiity, gender identity, or the way you express either of those, that is their problem not yours. Take care of yourself and, if possible, remove yourself from a toxic situation.