LGBTQ+ Christmas Survival Guide

The holidays can be a bittersweet time of the year. While there are celebrations aplenty and the specter of time off looming for many, life can be harder when you're not out to your family. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, the Christmas season is a time of significant stress. After all, it's full of those familial obligations that can be problematic at the best of times, now full of obligations and intrusive questions that can lead to sleepless nights and plenty of personal fear. Fortunately, this Christmas Survival Guide aims to help anyone who is trying to make it through the holiday season without a major familial incident.

Know Where You Are

Though advice is wonderful and often necessary, it is also important to note that the umbrella under which members of the LGBTQ+ community fall is vast and that the experiences of every individual are different. The most important place to start is always going to be with your personal safety. Make sure that you understand where you stand with your relatives and the realistic implications of what could happen if something goes wrong. The holidays are great but they are not worth putting you in potential jeopardy.

Set Real Limits

It's very important to set limitations when it comes to the holidays. You know which people you like to be around which you don't, so do what you can to limit your interactions with them. Don't let yourself be put into situations that are going to require you to spend time with that one uncle who always makes homophobic jokes or your cousin who consistently quotes horrifying sources about gender and sexuality. If necessary, tell little white lies to get out of the gatherings that are going to feature them. This could cause hurt feelings, but you do deserve to prioritize your own comfort from time to time.

If you aren't out to the whole group, it may also be a good idea to impose strict limits on what you are and are not willing to do. Group photos that are going to cause you a sense of dysphoria might need to be cut out, for example, as might religious gatherings that focus negatively on your rights as a person. Remember, no is a complete sentence and you absolutely don't owe anyone an explanation about what you are and are not willing to do.

Keep it Simple

Let's face it - everyone has seen the shows and read the stories where someone brings along a fake date to a holiday as a way to keep their relations happy. You also know how that turns out in fiction, so don't try to overcomplicate things by doing something similar. Yes, it can seem like an easy way out but it's far more trouble than it is worth.

By the same token, it's usually a bad idea to bring your partner as a 'friend'. This is not only something that can easily fall apart when those present start asking question, but it's also something that can make your partner deeply uncomfortable. As unfortunate as it may be, it's probably better to go alone than to ask your partner to be someone who they are not.

This also absolutely goes for making up stories. Don't tell your everyone that you are seeing someone when you are not and don't try to tell tales that establish you as a person that you are not. Instead, deflect questions with short, simple answers. If those you love aren't ready to see who you really are, you don't owe them an elaborate excuse.

Find Your Allies

The most important key to holiday survival is finding your allies. Whether it's your cool cousin or your grandma who loves you no matter what, find the person who you can hang out with that's going to require you to pretend less. While it might not be time to come out to that person just yet, simply knowing that you're around someone with whom you can be a little more honest can help.

It's also a good idea to find time to celebrate with people who do know the real you. Even if these gatherings are small, they can allow you to celebrate in ways that allow you to embrace yourself. Don't forget that family isn't just something you're born with, it's something that you can choose to make.

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