It’s Day 3 of the 12 Days of YMF-Mas! Whether you love the holidays or dread them every year, we’re here to offer you support and cheer. So pull on that ugly sweater, grab some eggnog, and enjoy!
By Lucas Kieran
The holidays can be hard for a lot of us. Holidays usually mean spending time with family, which, if you’re queer, can be difficult whether you’re out to family members or not. Here are three tips for surviving holidays spent with family.
Boundaries with family can be important when you’re queer. A lot of times, when a child comes out as queer, parents can become somewhat overbearing, and often not in a great way. A lesbian might get asked, “When are you going to find a boyfriend?” or told “You’ll find a nice man someday.” A gay man might get told, “You’ll find the right girl soon.” A trans person might be asked, “Please dress ‘normally’.” Someone with a partner of the same or a similar gender might be told, “I won’t let you have your partner sleep in the same room as you.”
Whether or not you wish to assert yourself in response to these requests and questions is up to you—depending on your family, doing so might not be safe.
If you can, make sure your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc know what is not okay to say or ask. It can be as simple as “It makes me uncomfortable when you say…” or “I understand that this is hard for you, but I’m [insert queer identity here] and I want you to respect that.”
Setting boundaries can also include things like separating yourself from your family members physically—you might want to check into a hotel if you are bringing a partner or even just to have a place to retreat to when family becomes overwhelming. You can request that you are allowed to close the door of the room you are staying in if you do decide to (or if it is not financially viable to do otherwise) stay in the family house, and request that people knock before entering. You might decide to do some sightseeing or wandering around town on your own or with a friend or partner during the day.
TAKE TIME TO YOURSELF
Sometimes you just need to chill out on your own, whether it’s taking a smoke break during an awkward family dinner (if allowed, which it might not be), going out for a walk, or going shopping (last-minute Christmas gifts can be a great excuse to duck out for a few hours, whether or not you actually buy anything for anyone besides yourself).
If you’re trans, malls or department stores can be the perfect place to retreat into the dressing room with some nice clothes that fit your presentation if you are forced to present as your assigned gender to appease your family or avoid conflict. Try on clothes in colors you like, and maybe even consider treating yourself to a few items as a reward for getting through the holidays.
Regardless of your identity or orientation or personal flavor of queerness, bubble baths are great—dollar stores often carry nice-smelling bubble bath liquids for, well, a dollar—and adding candles, incense, or bath bombs can be even better.
Find a nice book to read. If you haven’t yet read Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, this author strongly suggests reading it. Some parts are heavy, but overall it’s a great and important read. Check it out at a local library, buy it on iBooks or for Kindle, or try to hunt it down at a bookstore. Maybe find a nice coffee shop to sit down with your book (whatever you choose, although seriously—read Redefining Realness if it’s possible), an iPod/mp3 player, and a nice warm cup of coffee or hot cocoa.
SPEND TIME WITH SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS OR PARTNERS
Sometimes when you have an unsupportive (or oblivious) family, what you need is time with friends who support, love, and affirm you.
Consider going to a local support group and connecting with people there. Some support groups even have holiday parties to attend!
Round up some friends to go looking at lights, do last-minute shopping, or maybe even organize your own holiday dinner the day before or after your family’s holiday dinner.
If you don’t have friends in your general vicinity, Skype is a great way to hang out without actually being in the same room.
Here are some more ideas for holiday-time self care!
Lifehack.org: 5 Tips for Self-Care During the Holidays
Psychology Today: Self-Care During the Holidays
What are ways you get through the holidays? Let us know in the comments! Maybe you’ll help someone out.
Lucas Kieran, known to zyr close friends as simply Kieran or Kier, is a nineteen-year-old bigender trans person. Ze enjoys photography, writing, composing music, and Minecraft. Ze plans to move to Orem, Utah, and attend Utah Valley University for a dual degree in Psychology and Social Work, and to attend the University of Utah for master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Administration. Ze wants to help make the Utah Valley, the country, and the world a safer place for trans people, through obtaining zyr LCSW and providing reduced-fee counseling services for young trans people, doing rad activisty stuff, and encouraging trans people to love and support themselves and each other.