We are heading into a most unusual winter holiday season due to the worldwide pandemic. For many people, connecting with family and friends during the holidays is something to look forward to each December. But this year may bring the fear of exposing relatives to the coronavirus, so people may be re-thinking what this year’s holidays will look like. For some people in the LGBTQ+ community, this may come with a sigh of relief as holiday gatherings can be a source of stress for those who do not feel like they can be their authentic selves with their families due to fear of rejection or negative responses. This may be the year to start new holiday celebrations that feel right for you.
Family celebrations will certainly look different this year. Health fears may keep family members apart causing feelings of loneliness. If possible, make an effort to connect with family members and even share meals via Zoom. LGBTQ+ young people may feel anxious about some of these connections for fear that grandparents and other relatives may not accept their authentic selves. It can be helpful to remember that personal questions about friendships and romantic relationships are often an attempt at connection and that family members may need time to acknowledge and accept that they have an LGBTQ+ family member. If a question is asked that feels invasive, you can answer with as little or as much information as you feel comfortable with, and then change the subject. There may be unintentional incorrect use of pronouns with transgender family members. A gentle but firm correction along with a reminder that it is hurtful to be misgendered may be the remedy. Here are some suggestions for including older relatives via zoom gatherings.
If you are a supportive parent or ally, perhaps this season will bring about opportunities for you to highlight the importance of acceptance and affirming support for the LGBTQ+ people in your life. And if the holidays go well with family members, be sure to follow up post-holiday to see if there are any questions and to say thank you for the love and support.
LGBTQ+ young adults may decide to spend this year’s holidays with their partner or a very small group of chosen family. Hanging out, cooking together, or watching favorite movies can all make for lovely, intimate celebrations. Just be aware that people may feel anxious about gathering in even small groups so try to be understanding if some friends choose to not attend in person. There are plenty of ways to have online get-togethers. Check out this site for fun ideas for virtual holiday party ideas
Think about the traditions you love and plan for how they can be done safely. For example, if you love holiday decorations, then definitely go for a walk in your neighborhood and admire the lights. Just wear a mask and practice social distancing. If baking holiday treats is what makes you happy, by all means bake to your heart’s content. And maybe brighten up a neighbor’s day by delivering a batch of treats – just remember to use disposable gloves when making your delivery. Here are some fun, delicious recipes with a LGBTQ+ twist.
And if at all possible, be the change that you want to see in the world. There are many LGBTQ+ organizations who can use your time and energy this season. Research shows that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ and this time of year adds only more stress to a precarious living situation. Any extra blankets or outgrown clothes will be greatly appreciated by your local shelter. Giving back will definitely make this year feel more meaningful.
And remember that all family members need down time and for self-care during the holidays. Leave plenty of time for reading books, listening to music, time for taking walks and exercise.
Kaleidoscope wishes you the happiest of holidays and we wish you all the best in 2021!
Kaleidoscope is always here for you and especially during the holidays. Our weekly virtual Pride Club for 12-17 year olds and weekly virtual Coffee Chat for 18-24 year olds are safe spaces to share your thoughts and feelings. For more information, please visit KaleidoscopeLGBTQ.org
About the author
Jeri Rochman, JD, MA is the Program Director for Kaleidoscope and the very proud mom of a wonderful gay son. She is a National Board Certified Counselor, Certified Parent Educator and Trained Crisis Counselor. Interested in learning more about Kaleidoscope’s programs and services? She can be reached at [email protected].