Holidays are stressful no matter who you are. Statistics show that more people experience loneliness and struggle with a storm of emotions during the holiday season. For LGBTQ+ individuals, this experience can be even more intense if your family of origin does not know or embrace who you really are.
But there are ways to make your holiday season bright and full of love and laughter the way they were meant to be.
Many LGBTQ+ individuals still maintain and desire a connection with their families of origin, so holidays are shared with parents, siblings and other relatives. However, just a desire to be close does not mean that families of origin “get” what it means to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, nor does that make them aware of all the micro-aggressions they may be making—the double-takes at your appearance, the inappropriate questions about your dating life, etc.
You cannot control others, but you can control what conversations you will or will not entertain. You can set boundaries on the topics you are comfortable talking about. You can draw the line that marks when “enough is enough,” and you need to leave the room or the house to protect yourself emotionally.
The key to making this a successful strategy is to communicate your boundaries with your family before they are crossed. By clearly outlining what is and is not okay for you can open up healthy communication, foster genuine understanding and prevent awkward, threatening or hurtful situations.
Your family of origin is not the only family you have or can make. If your family of origin makes it impossible for you to feel respected and accepted, then choose to spend time with a new family, one of your choosing. Your friends, members of the LGBTQ+ and supportive others—like the faculty and staff at UNM Truman Health Services—know and appreciate you. Make new holiday (un)traditions with an untraditional family.
If you are reimagining family or you want to contribute to someone else’s happy holiday experience, then you need to reach out. No one knows that you want holiday company or that you are willing to be holiday company if you don’t ask.
At UNM Truman, we also want to raise awareness of particularly vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community—those who are homeless. Please look for opportunities to contribute to their relief and be a friend.