The struggles for the LGBTQ community during the holidays

Parade participants march down Market Street carrying the rainbow flag during the annual Gay Pride parade in San Francisco on June 30, 2013. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The LGBTQ community face high levels of neglect and loneliness during the holidays, and that is something we neglect to talk about. 

Going to holiday events can be stressful if you have to make small talk about when you are graduating or who you are dating. However, it can be especially hard when you want to bring your significant other to holidays but fear the reactions of your homophobic or transphobic family. 

I remember when I wanted to bring my girlfriend to my family’s Thanksgiving, but I did not want to have to deal with the homophobic slurs or judgments from my aunts. 

I felt frustrated because all of my cousins and their significant others were having an amazing time and getting to know one another. Yet, I spent more time thinking about how unfair it was that I felt like I did not belong in a space that should be safe. 

It seems to be a common occurrence among the LGBTQ people in my life that we introduce our partners as our “roommates” or “good friends.” How awful is it that we have to make our significant others and ourselves feel less than because of how our family perceives us?

The awful part about coming to a homophobic or transophbic family is that some of us have been kicked out of our family’s homes and lives because of our gender or sexuality. Personally, I had to accept that some people in my life, including my family, no longer wanted to know me. Which, in itself, is deeply depressing and hurtful. 

However, the holidays are a big stressor and reminder of our family’s dynamic. We have to see pictures of our families having the time of their lives or be reminded that we cannot be with our loved ones because of who we choose to love or what gender we are. 

Homophobia in one’s family can be as degrading as feeling that you have to change your lifestyle just to see your family. 

For example, I see myself as someone who is androgynous. I am more comfortable wearing pantsuits or jeans and a t-shirt. However, if I want to wear a pantsuit to dinner, I get stares from my family members and comments that I look “too gay” or “too masculine.” 

I put an insane amount of pressure on myself to look feminine just to make sure I am not making anyone in my family uncomfortable. 

Since receiving comments that expressing my gender through clothing made my family uncomfortable, I told myself I would wear dresses and skirts for the rest of the holidays to avoid the looks and comments. 

I know this may not seem like a big deal to some, but it really is. I am so tired of seeing my friends not be able to be who they are for selective days of the year just to avoid being hurt or made fun of. 

Another factor to consider is how scary it is when family members start to bring up politics in conversations during the holidays. This can be triggering for LGBTQ people because hearing about your family’s support for President Donald Trump definitely does not make you feel like you are entitled to any safe place or even wanted around them. 

Sadly, I got to the point where I just decided that not attending holidays and spending them alone was much safer than putting myself in situations where I was being judged. 

It hurts my heart to imagine all of the LGBTQ people within my community who spend their own holidays alone, like me. 

Just imagine the idea that your family will not let you be around them because of who you love or who you are. Just let it sink in how awful it is that members of the LGBTQ community feel more alone during the holidays than ever. 

I want you to know that during the holidays, you may feel alone and low. This is just a reminder that it is your family’s loss if they choose not to have you around during these times. That concept can be hard to accept but once you stop focusing on the people who don’t want you around, you can focus on the people who do. 

If you are invited to family events and feel scared, take a friend. This will help keep your mind busy. You can talk to them during your visit to distract yourself from worrying about what your family thinks of you. 

If your family does not allow you to attend their holidays, start your own holiday traditions or go over to a close friend’s house for Christmas and New Year’s.

Do not let your homophobic or transphobic family take away the meaning behind the holidays. After all, Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, happiness and joy. You can reclaim what they have taken and show that you are valid, you are loved, and you are important with or without their approval.

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