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LGBTQIA+ Survival Guide for the Holidays

Robyn Exton

Dec 23, 2021

LGBTQIA+ Survival Guide for the Holidays

Navigating any kind of family event can be complicated as an LGBTQIA+ person. While in real life you usually have the option of disengaging with anyone who creates a hostile environment for you, it’s not entirely possible with family. More often than not, you have to come face to face with them at some point unless you go completely no contact. 

While this can be hard, some smart tricks can help you survive holidays with your family unscathed. There’s no reason for what should be a happy holiday to trigger thoughts and patterns better left in the past, and we’re going to make sure they stay in the past. 

This is a survival guide for those who need it so bad they almost wish they were preparing for a week in the woods with no help instead. So kick back, relax, and keep reading for some life-saving tips.

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Why the Holidays Can Be an Awkward Time as an LGBTQ person 

Holidays can be an awkward time for an LGBTQIA+ person for a number of reasons. Not only are you putting yourself back in an environment that you might have spent a lot of your life wishing to escape, but you might be coming face to face with people who either aren’t accepting or just don’t understand your identity. People like this can use it as an excuse to be hostile and homophobic or transphobic towards you, which is something that we want to avoid. 

Going to your family home can somehow feel like revisiting the past and can bring up a lot of dark memories even for people who don’t have problematic relatives. 

Before we start giving out the advice, know that there’s nothing wrong with just choosing not to engage with family who doesn’t make space for you and make you feel welcome. Your mental health should be the priority, and if you feel like you don’t just want to survive the holidays this year but enjoy them, you can make plans with your found family instead. 

No one is entitled to your time and space, even if they are your blood relatives and this is a family holiday. On the other hand, just because there are some people in the family who are less than welcoming doesn’t mean you miss out on the chance to meet up with old friends and the family members who were by your side, and who stuck by you through the hardest times. 

Tips to Survive the Holidays 

We’re going to talk about a lot of tips to survive the holiday season in this article, but the most important thing for you to remember is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. We can sometimes get caught up in the moment and lose track of how we’re feeling, which can lead to us ignoring signs that this interaction or situation is being more harmful to us than we can afford.
This is why you need to listen to yourself at all times, take frequent breaks, and check-in with yourself throughout the night. 

Prioritize Your Own Needs 

If people ask questions that you’re not comfortable with answering or demand things from you that you don’t want to give, don’t ignore your own needs for the sake of comfort. 

It might feel like doing things to keep the peace is the smart thing, but there’s a line you can’t cross for your own sake, and you can’t afford to budge on it.

Set Boundaries 

It’s okay to set boundaries at the dinner table and afterward for what’s okay and what isn’t when it comes to talking to you. If someone’s deadnaming you or misgendering you on purpose, politely remind them that they have it wrong. If they don’t listen and keep behaving the way they do, walk away from the conversation or stop replying. 

You might have to advocate for yourself multiple times through the night and it might get exhausting, but no one said the holidays were going to be easy. 

Get Some Air 

Like we said before, the holidays with your family as a queer person aren’t going to be easy. If things get too intense or overwhelming, take a step back and get some air. Spend some time away from your family by taking a walk in the middle of the gathering, or revisiting favorite childhood spots. 

Find Your Allies 

You might be facing the impossibilities of a family gathering, all made worse by your identity, but you don’t have to face them alone. While your family might be prejudiced against you, there are always going to be people who would want to stand by you and support you. 

Having someone watching your back and supporting you can make all the difference when it comes to family gatherings during the holidays, as they can provide you with some support when it gets too hard and stressful. 

Phone a Friend 

Talking to a friend and checking in on each other can cheer you up and put you in a better mood. You can phone them either after dinner is over or you can call them when you step out to take a walk, but it’s a surefire way to cheer yourself up in the face of all the awkwardness and weird questions. 

Instead of taking any of the ignorant statements and intrusive questions to heart, poke fun at them with your friends and give them some support too – they’re probably going through the same thing at home!

Emergency Plan 

Sometimes family altercations and arguments can take a bitter or alarming turn. It would be fooling yourself to think that you’re completely safe in the presence of less than accepting people. Not only this, but you might just need to walk away from a situation after a particularly intense argument for your own mental health. 

Whatever happens, you need to be prepared for it so you don’t end up stranded or stuck during the holidays. Know where you would go in case you can’t stay at home, pack light, and know where to call for help in case you need it. This can either be a friend who is close by or government helplines that can offer support. 

Celebrate with your Chosen Family 

While it’s true that the holidays are a time for family, family can mean much more than your blood relatives. Don’t put yourself in unsafe and uncomfortable situations just because you feel like you have to. If there’s no one in your family you want to see, or if you’re not welcome there as you are, you can opt-out of the gathering and spend it with your chosen family instead. 

In fact, there isn’t even anything wrong with spending the holidays alone watching something and enjoying your favorite food. 

Be Extra and Let Your True Self Shine 

It undoubtedly took you a very long time to figure out who you are – don’t let that go to make other people feel comfortable, and don’t stop being yourself. Sometimes, it can be a very good litmus test for who deserves to be in your life and truly loves you for who you are, and who would rather see you shrink yourself to fit their idea of you, even at the expense of your happiness and mental health. 

Book Yourself a Spa Day! 

After all is said and done, you might want to treat yourself to a spa day to relax. The holiday season was stressful and you still made it out in one piece – that in itself is cause for celebration, and what better way to celebrate than to treat yourself to a luxurious spa day?

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Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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