The Holidays can be a really tough time for queer and trans people, especially for those of us who come from religious families. Whether this season means being alone or whether it means going back to be with your family of origin, putting plans in place to help you cope and get through the holidays is essential. Here are some things that have helped us! Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.
Figure out friends you can call & text
When you’re stressed or scared or your family says or does something messed up and you need advice or just to vent, have a friend or two on standby that you can reach out to
You are allowed to take care of yourself. You are allowed to take care of yourself. You are allowed to take care of yourself. Too often we get the message that as LGBT it’s our responsibility to always be “on” — to always advocate for the cause, or to behave “properly,” or to keep the peace. We’re told that it’s our job to endure demonizing sermons and degrading misgenderings in the name of “dialogue” or whatever. But we don’t have to. We can set and maintain boundaries that keep us safe, happy, and healthy. You don’t have to go to the Christmas service at your awful childhood anti-gay church. You don’t have to explain how you know you’re a woman on the drive to your aunt’s house. Communicating your boundaries to your family ahead of time might work well for you or you can decide on them yourself and enforce them if folks bump up against them.
Make time to be alone
These days, my family is wonderfully supportive and still, I need some time to sneak away and just be myself. Spending time with lots of people can be exhausting and families that are not supportive can be extra exhausting. Make time to sit in bed and read a book; to get outside and go for a walk, run, or bike ride; or even to take a nap.
Celebrate the holidays with your chosen family too
We’re told that spending time with our families of origin is the only “proper” way to spend the holiday. In some cities, like New York City, where I live, “Orphan Christmas” is a thing… friends who aren’t going home to their families gather together to celebrate. But getting together with close friends to celebrate a holiday shouldn’t need a qualifier… it can just be Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Chanukah, or Kwanza. I consider many of my close friends to be part of my chosen family. We’re there for each other unconditionally. We’ve gone through periods of living together, sharing our food and belongings, and even sharing our money. We take each other to doctors visits and we help pay for each other’s surgeries. Remember to celebrate holidays with the people in your life who are supportive (even if that means hopping on a Google Hangout because they don’t live nearby).
Fr. Shay says…
Sign up for a Twitter account
It’s been hugely helpful for me to be able to log into twitter and have a whole bunch of people I can reach out to. I use Twitter as a place to vent, to be around likeminded people, to ask for prayer, or to find stuff to make me laugh.
I love being able to pull out my journal and just write. It’s a place where I don’t have to make sense. I don’t have to worry about being petty or angry or lashing out. I can write whatever I’m feeling and I always feel better afterwards.
Have music and movies that make you feel good
Make a playlist of music you love and that makes you feel awesome. If you need to, step away for a bit and listen to your favorite song. Bring some DVDs to the Christmas party and put them on for distraction. Give yourself some breathing space.
Create an exit strategy if you can
Have a friend call with an emergency. Say that you have to leave at a certain time. Give yourself permission to leave if things get too intense. You don’t have to stay super late. You can stay in a hotel instead of sleeping on your parents’ couch. Do what you need to do to give yourself the out you need.
What about you?
What do YOU say? Leave some of your tips in the comments over on YouTube!
How can you take care of yourself—even if friends, family, and churches aren’t accepting of you?
We put together a 3 part video series that will support you in self care around unaffirming family and friends. Click here to signup for free.