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Going Home for the Holidays

Tips for Gays and Lesbians

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Going home for the holidays can be hard no matter what your sexual orientation, but for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks, it can be especially stressful. Here are some tips that will hopefully make your holidays go a little smoother.

You’ve decided to spend the holidays with your family this year. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans folks are a diverse lot. We come from many different kinds of families. Some of us are out to our parents, others are not. Some of our parents love and support our life choices (yeah, PFLAG moms!) and others are completely opposed to homosexuality and do not want any mention of it in their home. I hope these tips will help you no matter what your situation.

Know your family.

In which of the above scenarios do you see them? If your parents have had a hard time accepting you for who you are, don’t expect things to be magically different at the holidays. Be sensitive to your parent’s position, but don’t do anything that truly compromises your own beliefs. Expect to be treated with respect, but don’t demand that they share all your beliefs. Choose your battles.

Get Support.

Do you have an ally within your family? Talk to him or her in advance and let them know you might need a little extra support this visit. If there’s something specific you want them to do (interrupt homophobic jokes, keep Uncle Ted away from you) ask that too.

Plan Ahead.

Are you bringing a partner home? Make sure your parents know s/he is coming. Don’t wait until you arrive at their house to discuss sleeping arrangements. Phone ahead and while you’re asking what you can bring to help with dinner or other celebrations, ask about sleeping arrangements. It may save you and your parents (not to mention your partner) from a fight. If things are too uncomfortable, consider staying in a hotel or with another friend or relative.

Set realistic expectations.

What do you want out of this visit? Do you want to open up and share more of your life with your family, or do you just want to get through the visit without a major fight? If your goal is to make Aunt Mary see once and for all that gay marriage is a god-given right, maybe that’s not going to happen. Maybe a more realistic goal is to model for Aunt Mary that gays and lesbians have partners and families that they love and care about just as heterosexuals do.

Stay connected to your friends.

Have a supportive friend you can call if things get hard. Log onto the Lesbian Life Forum and check in with Internet buddies. Visit a local gay or lesbian bar, bookstore or community center.
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