If you’re LGBT, you know that the holidays can be particularly stressful. You can feel like an outsider in your parents’ home. The feeling may be so uncomfortable that you want to crawl back in the closet.
Your Auntie Claire may not ask you about your significant other, but she inquires your sister about her boyfriend of the opposite sex. And if your significant other is a guest in your parents’ home, he might be greeted with indifference.
Grandma may be put off by your new buff appearance and comment how she misses the slightly pudgy grandson she knew? “You Can’t Go Home Again?” You can make it easier on yourself if you keep in mind the following:
· Realize that this too shall pass. The visit won’t last forever.
· If you feel unloved, call a gay friend who has felt similar feelings. Talk out your uneasiness.
· If you have brought your boyfriend, don’t demand different sleeping arrangements. True you may be put in your old room with twin beds and school banners on the wall.
· Don’t respond to your Uncle Joe’s criticism of Hillary Clinton’s platform for LGBT equality. You can’t win!
· Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings if he is visiting home with you.
· Consider playing a family game to “break the ice.” Focus on common interests.
· Help out with food preparation and cleanup. The latter, in particular, is greatly appreciated.
· Take some time for yourself: a visit to a gym, a thoughtful walk, a long shower, can all aid in lowering your blood pressure that is being raised by various family members.
Resources to Get You Through the Holidays
· PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) http://www.pflag.org. has tips for both straight parents and LGBT children on how to survive the holidays.
· Family Acceptance Project, a national research, education and training program that helps families to support their LGBT children has advice on-line for parents. http://firstname.lastname@example.org
If your visits home at other times of the year when your family isn’t so distracted by the frenetic pace of the holiday yield the same results, you might consider substituting your family for one you build through friends and others who are loving and welcoming. But also be mindful of the fact that parents need time to adjust to your orientation. How long you can wait for their conditional acceptance is up to you.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.