It’s cold outside…
And for some folks, it’s even colder inside. The holiday season can be a mixed bag for many LGBTQIA+ people coming home to their families. We either have family members who accept and love us unconditionally, family members who don’t accept who we are or who we choose to love, or somewhere in the middle – where even when our loved ones have the best intentions and make their best efforts, they can still leave us feeling exhausted if we have to remind or educate them frequently or repeatedly.
If you’re planning on going home for the holidays, but wary of how things may go, Team TFSS compiled a list of tips to help get you through!
- Talk with your friends and understand who will be available to call or text, if you need someone to reach out to. It’s important to decompress and process emotions and interactions with a supportive person.
- Set and maintain boundaries with your family. Addressing potential triggers or limits with the people you’ll be spending time with will help lessen or prevent stress. You’re allowed to say “no” and “I’m not comfortable talking about this right now.”
- Have a self-care plan. It can help to make a list of things you can do or take with you that would help you calm down – bring a good book, some comfort snacks, your favorite music or movie, or even put together a box or bag of comfort items like stim toys. It’s healthy to feel your feelings, and you are allowed to do so while taking care of yourself.
- If you have the ability to decline, and you feel that being with your family will be more painful or stressful than not going, exercise that boundary and opt-out of the visit. (If not going isn’t an option for you, try to give yourself an “out” – it could be a walk or a bike ride, or seeing if a supportive family member or friend can take you somewhere away from the family for a little bit.) Surround yourself with people who respect and affirm your identity as much as you’re able.
- Remember that you deserve love, support, and respect. Have compassion for yourself, and remember that other peoples’ actions are a reflection of who they are, not who you are.
Are you thinking about “coming out” to your family during the holidays?
Folks expressing their gender identity or sexuality for the first time to their families or friends may struggle with the coming out process, and may even face adversity for it… some may choose to stay “in the closet” to maintain their emotional safety, but that can take its toll on your energy as well. If you feel ready to take this leap, some things to keep in mind are to:
- Evaluate that it’s safe to do so – and to which family members.
- Have plans for self-care, affirming social support, and an escape plan (if needed).
- Remind yourself that your family members may need time to acknowledge, accept, and affirm your identity; even if they don’t respond immediately, this doesn’t mean it’s an instant disapproval. Allow them time to process their thoughts and feelings.
- Take up space and maintain those boundaries. You are allowed to shut down uncomfortable, toxic, or unsafe behaviors or inappropriate questions.
- If things go well, check in with your family afterwards. If they have any questions, point them toward resources (like TFSS!) where they can learn how to support you in your truth.
Lastly, make sure you know what your emergency resources are, if the visit has been increasingly difficult to deal with. Here are a few numbers you can call or text:
- Crisis Text Line: Text “HELLO” to 741-741
- Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988
- The Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386 and website: thetrevorproject.org
- The GLBT National Youth Talkline: 800-246-7743 (youth serving youth through age 25)
Above all, take care of yourself. You’re worth it.