Christmas is a time of year that can be difficult for queer folks. Big family events are often tumultuous times of a queer person’s calendar and it can be scary facing family members who may not be so accepting of your sexuality or gender. We’ve put together a Christmas kit to help you through the holiday season so that you can enjoy a mince pie or two without worrying what your conservative Uncle will say about your rainbow socks.
Chances are, you’re going to have to put up with at least one family member who has views so outdated Moses thought they were chic. A simple subject like pride marches or how many genders there are can go from polite dinner conversation to all-out screaming match while your Aunt Sue tells you she doesn’t hate you, just your ‘lifestyle’.
The best way to deal with these kinds of family members is to just not engage. It can be frustrating to sit and listen to someone spreading negative views or twisted facts, but often arguing about it only encourages their ignorance. Chances are, you aren’t going to change anyone’s beliefs over a Christmas dinner.
If you feel like you can handle an argument, try to be reasonable. No matter how riled up they get, remain polite and courteous, and maybe that will encourage them to do the same. If nothing else, at least they can’t accuse you of being rude. Take that high road, and don’t let them get to you for long. Just because they’re your family doesn’t mean you have to like them.
Sometimes, it can feel lonely to be the only gay in the village (or at the family gathering), especially if said family members are questioning the validity of your sexuality or gender. It can be mentally and emotionally exhausting to explain what non-binary means ten times to each individual guest who asks. If you’re feeling alone or like no one understands where you’re coming from, immerse yourself in queer culture.
Find a film or a tv show with queer storylines, like Love, Simon, Orange is the New Black or Steven Universe. Listen to music by a queer artist, like Janelle Monae, Halsey or David Bowie. If you have queer friends or friends who are supportive allies, talk to them. Meet up with them. Compare your families and your problems. Talk about the RuPaul Christmas special (or don’t. Let’s be real, what is there to say about that mess?).
There are ways you can feel validated, even when those closest to you are telling you that your sexuality or gender doesn’t exist, or when you’re still not out. You know yourself best. You know who you are, and queer culture can help remind you of that.
We’ve heard people going on about self-care for some time now and, to some, it might seem a little hackneyed. But all it really means is looking after your mental state and giving yourself a bit of slack. You don’t need to be a yoga expert or spend tons of money on a detox to take part in some self-care.
One of the most important parts of self-care is giving yourself a break. You don’t have to be working or worrying 24/7, and sometimes its okay to slob a bit. So you feel like spending all day watching L Word reruns with a bag of crisps and a bottle of coke, so what? So you want to take an hour to soak in a bubble bath with a mug of hot chocolate and a few (read: a mountain) of marshmallows, so what? Try to carve out some time for yourself to do some guilt-free self-care. You are allowed to relax, especially around Christmas. You are allowed to do your own thing and damn everyone else.
Taking care of your body is also good practice, and it’ll help you take care of your mind. Try to drink a lot of water and go outside every once in a while, even if it is arctic-levels of cold. Talk to supportive family members or friends. If you’re feeling low, call a helpline or email a support group for help. There are plenty of helplines open over the holiday season, so if you know a walk in the park won’t make you feel any better, give them a call.
Let’s be honest here, Christmas is all about the food. You’ve got chocolates and sweets and turkey and roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and all kinds of ridiculously good food to snack on. It’s much easier to put up with your Aunt talking about how much she LOVES Donald Trump or how she hopes Brexit will go through sooner rather than later when you have a mouthful of delicious Christmas food.
Whether your family is the most liberal, left-wing family out there or your dad is literally Mike Pence, you’re going to need a lot of energy for the holiday season. The days are busy, there’s a ton of social interaction and people might even expect you to go out on a Boxing Day hike. Make sure to fill up your stomach, and to ignore the many perfume/clothing/makeup adverts that tell you otherwise. Top tip: models that size probably don’t get to eat roast potatoes. Do you really want to live that life?
Whatever you eat and however you eat it (Christmas dinners can be a contentious matter, especially in the UK), make sure that you’re giving your body enough fuel to deal with all the Christmas madness. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Christmas can be an exhausting time of year, but with a little bit of preparation and A LOT of patience, you can get through it. And hey, you might even get a few good presents out of it! So good luck with your holiday plans and remember that the community’s always there to support you if you need us!
Links to helplines and helpful sites can be found on our Need Help post.