Christmas time is generally viewed to be the time when families come together. With our busy schedules, sometimes it’s either a wedding, a funeral, or Christmas, which brings the entire family together. This time is seen as one to bond together, catch up on what happened throughout the year (new jobs, new partners, and even new hairstyles!) and look forward for the year to come.
For someone in the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual) spectrums, this time may not always be jovial and enjoyable. This is particularly true if the person is not out to their family, or their family is not supportive of their identity. This can result in tension, anxiety at what may happen at the family event, and isolation from the rest of the world which seems to be carolling away.
So how can someone handle the upcoming festivities?
- Accept and acknowledge that arguments may arise. Prepare yourself for them. Remind yourself that there is no such thing as the perfect meal with the perfect conversation. Something good to note is that unlike what the movies show you, coming out at such events is not the best of ideas. Try find a more suitable time to come out if you’re not out yet.
- Keep your boundaries in check. This time of year means that sometimes we can take on more than we can handle – for the sake of tradition or obligation. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, and remember that if your family is not accepting of your identity, then you do not owe them these obligations either. So if your family want you to go visit your homophobic or transphobic uncle who will instantly start to mock and humiliate you the second you walk through the door, you can politely decline this offer, no matter how much your family might guilt you into going because “you never know if this will be his last Christmas!”.
- Last but not least – be compassionate. Be kind to yourself, every day, but even more so during this period. Be compassionate and kind towards your family as well. If you only recently came out to them, remember that it can take time for them to wrap their head around it – just as it took you time as well! And if they’ve known for a while, but they’re not fully supportive, but still show you that they care and love you, be compassionate as well. Understand that right now this is as much as they can accept…and that’s ok too.
At the end of the day, remember that this period is temporary. Keep in mind your self-care, and tell yourself that no matter how bad it gets, it will pass.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.