Every year, I remember the fighting, the drunkenness, and the obviously toxic family member that made it so.
Growing up, I knew I was Queer as a Two Dollar Bill by the time I was thirteen. I know most of us did. I hit puberty and all of a sudden everything changed. I’m pan-sexual, and married to a partner who doesn’t believe in gender. My family is all relatively distant now, but I remember the days when the holidays didn’t bring an idea of joy and thankfulness — but rather my family deciding what was the worst thing I did over the past year, and then one of our uncles getting plastered calling my cousin (who is very straight) a f*gg*t and throwing fists.
Not the America I think my Native American ancestors dreamed of, but the America a lot of us experience. More often than not, being “in the closet” really isn’t an option, and neither is running for the damn hills.
This is why I am compiling my Three Best Tips for you to survive the Holidays, preferably without a black eye. I’ll try and follow this article up with a list of tips on how to make your homophobic family as uncomfortable as physically possible — but only if they don’t pose a physical threat to you.
Gay culture is surviving and thriving. Some activists believe the recent rise in homophobic violence might be a gauge of the success of positive gay images. — Lance Loud
Tip #1: Bring A Friend With You To Dinner.
You might think this is asking for trouble, but trust me.
This isn’t the case for every family, lord knows too many of my friend’s have family who aren’t ashamed to be exactly how horrible they are right in front of company.
But it isn’t just a good method for hoping your family will leave you alone — honestly, if you bring a same-sex friend that could make their “suspicious” nature more terrible. But a friend being with you has a better chance of helping you escape a bad situation. If things go off the rails, they can help you call an Uber/Lyft, or even drive for you, or just genuinely help you get out.
Never underestimate how important it is to have safety in numbers. While it may not always be the case, I don’t think I’d be able to handle the holidays without a good friend at my side. Though, escaping to another friend’s family for the holiday’s means that you need to be there go to escape outlet. Just be certain to make some sort of code or something before you get there. (I mean, honestly, this shouldn’t be needed, but it is.)
…being disowned by my only living parent was not what I expected — but I should have.
Tip #2: If You’re Not Out, Make Sure You’re Safe Before Coming Out.
My least favorite tip to give, but one that is readily needed in our society.
One of the most dangerous things you can do is come out to a bunch of people who are possibly violent. Gauge your families willingness to accept your queerness before you try and explain it to them.
Coming out to my family seemed the right thing to do. A good few still speak to me, others have blocked me on Facebook. I mean, being disowned by my only living parent was not what I expected — but I should have.
I was lucky enough to be no where near my family when I came out, and I may have used MySpace (yep, I’m that old) to do it. I remember the phone calls, and I remember my family assuming it a phase. I bet you do too, unless you’re lucky enough to have some bomb ass parents and you’re here because of grandparents or for a friend. Which, good on you if so.
Coming out means hearing, “You just haven’t met the right man/woman yet.” Or if you’re transgender… so much worse. If you do plan to come out on the holidays, make sure you have a way out if things get ugly. More than 200 transgender people were murdered in 2018.
Tip #3: Know When to Escape a Toxic Situation.
Watch for red flags, and have a plan for exit. Don’t worry about “rude.”
It’s important to know when you need to leave. Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and just go.
When my uncle came out to my grandmother she nearly wrecked the truck (they were driving down a highway). She had every intention of killing both of them, rather than accepting my uncle as gay.
When my dad found out about my uncle, he kicked the door of his car in. (This should have been enough information for me to never come out to me dad, but I did anyway.)
When that homophobic family member is several drinks in, and starts yelling about sissy boys, or that women should wear dresses, or any other blathering nonsense, it’s a sign that the evening is over and it is time to go home. If you’ve been drinking call a ride. Have a friend who knows your situation and is ready to get you out of there. Anything. Plan for the worse possible situation, and pray for the best.
Remember, toxic behavior isn’t always just violence. Toxic behavior is your family intentionally misgendering you. It’s your family bringing a nice girl over to introduce you too, when you’ve said you’re gay over 100 times. Toxic behavior is constantly trying to insist you’re frail or weird. It’s verbal, it’s emotional, it’s not your fault they feel this way, and it isn’t your job to be used as a punching bag because your family has homophobic hang ups.
It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, gay, straight, come from different countries, different language… every single person is significant and is meaningful. — Michael Franti
Bonus Tip: You’re Worth More Than Your Family’s Acceptance.
Remember that you can create an alternative family that loves and accepts you.
I made my own family awhile back. I love my blood, but I couldn’t handle it anymore. I still love them and I still miss them all the time. I don’t know if they know it, but I do.
When all else seems to have failed. Your family won’t come around. The toxic behavior hurts you, and you feel the damage. Then, choose yourself. Don’t let other people own you. Find and create your own family. Do what you deserve and care about what is best for you. Because your happiness is more important than the acceptance of your family. Don’t let them bribe you into a life of suffering.
“The blood of the covenant is stronger than the water of the womb.” — Unknown
It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, agender, pan-sexual, asexual, or anything else.
What matters is that you’re living your best life.
So, this Holiday Season, live your best life. Don’t let your homophobic family dictate your happiness.
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Johannus M. Steger is a Dallas, Texas blogger, vlogger, student, and fiction writer. He has a love for all things Fantasy and coffee, and leads a successful group of like-minded individuals in goal-and-task setting every Friday. He is published through The Huffington Post and a horror anthology, “Infinite Darkness”.
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