Many queer people dread the thought of having to see unsupportive family members during the holiday season. It can be tough to face these situations without any real guidance, especially since now most connection happens through a screen.
True Fontaine, an 18-year-old theatre enthusiast, initially identified as bisexual and had been somewhat open with her parents about her struggles discovering her sexuality. However, over the last few months, Fontaine said she began to experiment with her identity, became more introspective and recently came out as an asexual lesbian.
Fontaine was raised in the Christian church and states that her environment has played a predominantly positive role in defeating the stereotype that religion is unsupportive of the queer community. This is with the exception of her paternal grandparents, who she says “lean towards the conservative side” and have difficulty accepting the queer community.
Similar to many queer or questioning youth, she had no real guide on how to create an environment that she felt comfortable in. So, Fontaine began to reach out to the friends she found through her theatre program and school.
“Because I was raised in the church, I believe anything is acceptable,” said Fontaine. “If you’re not religious that’s great. Do what makes you happy and be with the people who truly love and care for you.”
Like Fontaine, many queer people are staying home for the holidays due to COVID-19. Therefore, escaping negativity will prove to be more difficult than ever before. Taking from Fontaine’s experience, as well as my own, I have gathered some tips to help make the holidays less stressful.
Tip #1 Support:
Relying on someone who offers you a sense of security can be a real game-changer when you’re surrounded by constant unacceptance. As many queer youths realize, there is a lot of work needed to be done to undo the detrimental effects of the small comments or side-eyes that you have been surrounded by. If you have other queer family members, stick together, the chance is you’re both thinking the same thing. Whether you have two-weeks of progress or five-years, no one can undo the progress you’ve made to become a better person and to discover yourself.
Tip #2 Lean on your people:
If you have access to a safe space, take some time to call up or text a friend who you trust and know
cares. Support when dealing with family members who might not understand you is essential. Similar to surgery recovery, no one can do it alone and if they try, it’ll get worse. Talk to your friends or have a plan in place to calm down or to vent.
Tip #3 Turn the arguments into energy:
Just about everyone loves games, whether they’re watching them or playing them. Find cover in a game that you know everyone enjoys. Learning how to avoid disagreements can alleviate any lingering tension from previous disagreements.
Tip #4 Food:
Thanksgiving and many other holidays are centered around eating food. If you can’t avoid the conflict temporarily, change the subject to food. Food is a great talking point and almost everyone has criticism or comments about how someone prepared the food. If talking about food is comfortable to you, engage in a conversation about what your favorite foods are, who’s the best cook or what the secret ingredient is to that mysterious family recipe.
Navigating the holidays is something that’s not always going to be easy, so it’s nice to have some help along the way. Have a safe space and support group prepared to step away from distressing situations. Turn uncomfortable conversations into positive ones by changing the subject or diverting the attention to a fun activity.
If you or anyone is part of the LGBTQ+ Community and is experiencing any mental health issues or is in need of support, please visit the following sites for help:
The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.