While I don’t like Christmas as much as Pride – but I don’t hate it completely, as it’s nice to spend time with family (but bear in mind that the word ‘family’ can mean different things to different people – e.g. someone may consider their friends as family). But I understand that Christmas (which was originally a pagan celebration before it was adopted and renamed by Christians) – my family is a mixed bag (as in, my dad’s side of the family hates each other, whilst my mums/mums boyfriends side are close).
But every family is different – so I’ll try and give some advice as to how to survive the Christmas holidays as an LGBTQ+ person. I wanted to write this post because I’ll be away for Christmas this year (as I don’t currently have a kitchen).
- Stand up for yourself: You don’t have to answer invasive questions about your sexuality and/or gender – additionally, you don’t have to put up with any homophobia, transphobia etc. You have the right to say no – and walk away. You shouldn’t be subject to bereavement, insults, abuse, pushed or pressured because of your queerness.
- BUT – choose your battles wisely: Whilst standing up for yourself is advised, some people are set in their ways – so simply put, it’s not worth getting worked up. This means that you shouldn’t be going looking for fights, ‘testing’ your family, or look for debates – I would keep the conversations neutral if possible.
- Find An Ally: This can come in a variety of forms – maybe it’s your sibling, parent or cousin. Hopefully, you will find someone who supports/understand you – and is willing to listen to you vent after an uncomfortable conversation. (But having an ally is great no matter the time of year).
- Take to your phone: Unfortunately, not everyone is supportive of the LGBTQ+ community – and this includes family. It sucks. So if you don’t have any family members who are willing to be your allies, take to your phone. Maybe you could arrange to have a phone call or text – or maybe you’re in a group chat on social media (like with my ‘Coming Out’ Advice post, I would recommend Facebook Messenger or Instagram) when things get rough. Just remember, you can step away from anyone to get the appropriate support.
- Celebrate Christmas your own way: If it’s too unsafe to spend time with your nuclear/extended family (and this could be for a variety of valid reasons)- then celebrate the holidays the way YOU want to. This could involve creating your own rituals (though I would recommend first of all thinking about how you would want to celebrate Christmas) – this will hopefully make you feel less stressed about society’s pressure regarding Christmas.
- Listen to some bops: Music helps me improve my mood – so maybe making a ‘Christmas Survival Playlist’ on Spotify may help to improve your mood for perhaps an hour. Or maybe you already have a playlist with all your favorite songs on it – but either way, listening to music can be a big help.
- Take a Break: The holiday season can be a stressful time (shopping, food preparation, etc…) – so try and get through the holidays without adding to your emotional distress by bombarding yourself with criticisms too.
- Avoid self-destructive behaviors: If you are already feeling in a foul mood, it might just be tempting to eat and drink alcohol – but these will not fix how you are feeling, and will only make everything worse. Try and get the amount of sleep, or if you if your mental health is at risk / you have mental health disorders, reach out to someone you trust, or reach out to a helpline to get through it safely.
- Finally, remember that this shall pass: While this time of year can be all-consuming and overwhelming – just remember that the festive season will pass, whether, for you, the festive season ends on Boxing day or in January, the Christmas season will come to a stop and everything will return to normal.