It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for some! The Christmas season can be filled with family and friends: giving gifts, sharing precious moments and taking stock of the past 12 months. But for many in our queer community this time of year can mean something very different.
A reminder of the family from which we feel estranged; the pressure to fit into a heteronormative mould of the white picket fence; the need to ‘tone it down’ to avoid family conflict over the holidays.
The truth is that for many in our community, once the closet door swings open, our family becomes who we make it. No matter what your situation is, this time of the year can still stir up emotions you thought were dead and buried. It’s not a conscious thing, it just happens. So rather than fall into the holiday blues, here’s our handy survival guide to help you get you through the holiday season.
Don’t worry, the right one will come along!
No one likes to feel patronised. When a family member tells you ‘You’ll find the right one’ you can’t help but feel that they are judging you by their own social standards. It’s easy for your blood to boil, but there’s an easy way to handle it.
It’s not about getting mad; it’s about getting even. Your life is not less because you’re not living like them! Remind them that you’re cool hanging out on the singles table with your other cousins and Aunt Betty as everyone struggles with a Christmas Day hangover.
While they were trying to put their kids to bed, you were out on the dance floor after having dinner with mates. This is your life and it’s a full one, so don’t be afraid to tell them that.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being aggressively single.
Keeping your family in the loop throughout the year via social media gives you great conversation starters at Christmas. Plus, it’s a way for you to talk about your life WITH them instead of feeling they are talking at you. A sure-fire way to shut down those conversations is to dive into your sexcapades. “If you think it is appropriate to validate my singledom by what you think I am missing out on, let me fill you in on what I got up to last night!”. Or remember that old saying, “Nan, I may not have a girlfriend right now, but at Friday at Fanny’s I had 20!”
Have I told you about my kids and finances?
Sometimes don’t you wish you could just unfollow heteronormative conversations like you can on Facebook? Just because the kids and the mortgage is their life, doesn’t mean yours has to be, and it doesn’t mean you need to feel less because it isn’t.
When they are talking about little Tommy taking his first step and you’re talking about that fierce death drop your saw on the dance floor the other night you, can feel even further disregarded than you did before.
The best way to shut this down is with a sassy outfit that helps you feel your queer oats and own who you are. For some this may be as simple as a great pair of heels or a killer cap, for others it could mean a head to toe makeover. Whatever works for you, works for you, so go with it.
While many think Christmas is the time to tone it down or toe the line with family, sometimes stepping things up can help as well. After all, if you feel confident then you are confident. If you can create a rainbow shield of power when you’re out on the town, why not let your family see it too.
Remember, you’re a confident queer individual and they can’t take that away from you. While you may not have a mortgage, this haircut was worth every cent!
That overtly queer Christmas gift you get every year.
Who thinks that getting a lesbian a Bunnings voucher, or a gay man the DVD of Funny Girl is a good idea? Your straight relatives!
We all panic when it comes to shopping for the right gift, and while you laugh about it when the wrapping comes off, a token queer Christmas present can sometime feel… well, tokenistic.
Instead of getting angry and asking for a receipt, take the acknowledgement of your sexuality for what it is, a laugh. Give them a gift that’s sexuality appropriate as well. Straight people can probably use some condoms, a bible or that binary flyer you found in the bin.
The reality is that you do have to educate some family members on how to treat you like a normal person. It’s irritating, but it is just a part of everyone’s life. This isn’t just a queer dilemma, though it can sometimes feel like it will never stop. Turn it on its head so that you can all laugh about it rather than feel like you are the family’s running gag.
Can’t you just eat chicken for just one day?
Vegan; vegetarian, lactose intolerant, allergic to seafood or maybe you just don’t like it? We have all been asked ‘Why can’t you just eat it today, it’s Christmas after all’.
Christmas lunch is kind of a big deal, with the same massive menu each year, and if you don’t want the chicken leg with a side of lamb and some turkey then you may end up sitting on the kids table with a bowl of lettuce leaves.
Rather than wait to remind your mum that you haven’t eaten meat for 16 years, you can avoid the endless merry-go-round of dietary requirements by simply preparing something yourself.
Christmas lunch can be super special but rather than pick and choose what you can have while you snack on a Snickers under the table, make something that you can enjoy. Maybe someone else will like it, and then you can start a new Christmas food tradition!
Coming out on the holidays
Out in life but not out to the family? Or haven’t found the right time to come out and thinking with the family all together Christmas will save you the phone credit?
With the countdown to the end of the year approaching you may feel like starting the new year by being out and proud is a good idea. But that doesn’t mean the best time to come out is while Grandpa’s cutting up the turkey.
If you’re not out of the closet, don’t feel like you’re less of a person for not stepping up and shouting your sexuality to your family. Admitting who you are to yourself is a huge and important step and should be celebrated, but being ready to tell your family is a whole other thing entirely — you never know which way the conversation will go
It’s important to make sure you have the right support network around you when coming out. We’ve all had an escape plan when we have come out of the closet, no matter how supportive our families has been. You choose the time that suits you to have that conversation, not anyone else – but once you open that door, you can’t close it. On Christmas day you’ll have nowhere else to go should you need it, but if their Christmas is ruined by your sexuality, then they have bigger fish to fry!
You can always start small, when asked if you’ll find the right man, tell Nan you have, her/his/they’re name is Susan/Greg! Acknowledge the conversation you are having but put the ball back in their court to see if they are ready to talk about it with you.
It is entirely up to you and your personal circumstances whether you think that Christmas is the appropriate time to come out of the closet and drop the queer bombshell. You can always wait till the new year when you have the support that you need. Sometimes it’s easier to just roll with the punches over the holidays. Coming out to your family is a big deal but there’s no shame in not doing it either.
Just be happy with who you are, the time to tell them is whenever the hell you want.
If need someone to talk to or are looking for support over the holidays, you can always speak to an LGBTQI peer who understands what you are going through. Contact Switchboard on 1800 184 527 or head to QLife online from 3pm to 12am every day for support.