We’ve talked before about how to make the holidays meaningful for your LGBTQ+ children, but do you know why this time of year can be such a struggle for LGBTQ+ of all ages? Today we’ll go over those reasons and provide a few tips on how to make your home a welcoming one.
One of the most prevalent and powerful messages we get during the holiday season is about the importance of family and togetherness. We’re bombarded with this message all season long, in song lyrics, advertising, TV shows, movies, etc. If your family is complicated (and whose isn’t!) you might feel like you’re falling short during the holidays. This feeling can be even more intense for LGBTQ+ people who are rejected or not fully accepted by their families.
Holidays are a lonely time for some LGBTQ+ people. For young people who have been kicked out of their house because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, Christmas could be spent couch-surfing, on the street, or at a shelter. Even those who aren’t financially dependent on their parents and living on their own still feel the rejection even more acutely during the holidays, as others around them make plans to go home and share meals with their families.
Those who are welcome at a family gathering still might not feel comfortable attending. Maybe their family is not welcoming to their significant other, or they’re trans and their family doesn’t use their correct name and pronouns, etc. All of these possibilities, combined with the heightened stress of the holidays, can make any gathering seem daunting.
How to Be an Ally to LGBTQ+ People During the Holidays
First, make sure your home is a welcoming place for your own LGBTQ+ child. Start a conversation about how they’re feeling about the upcoming holidays. Excited? Anxious? If they’re dreading it, try to figure out why and see if there’s something you can do to address the issue. For example, if Aunt Betty always makes disparaging remarks about LGBTQ+ people, talk to her beforehand. These conversations can be VERY uncomfortable, but remember that your child’s mental health and safety is at stake. An awkward moment with Aunt Betty is worth a happy child at Christmas dinner. (If you need some tips on how to do this, check out our blog How to Speak Up for LGBTQ+ People)
Another way you can be an ally is to invite your child’s friends to spend time at your house during the holidays. An invitation to Christmas dinner to an LGBTQ+ young person who is estranged from their own family is more powerful than you might think.
Remember, if you’re new to all of this then it’s also important to give yourself grace and patience. You might make mistakes and there might be some awkward moments, but the important thing is that you’re trying. Make sure your child knows you love them and accept them, and the rest should fall into place.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Strong Family Alliance!