The holiday season is coming up fast, which means that there will soon be plenty of opportunities to celebrate and be with family. But around this time, it is important to remember that seeing family may not be a completely positive experience for everyone. For queer people, the challenge of family holidays can be especially difficult.
For many queer people, seeing family for the holidays involves going back into the closet to prevent judgment from unaccepting relatives. And those who are out often have to brace themselves for invasive and uncomfortable questions from family who are a little too curious about their personal lives.
Unfortunately, the idea of temporarily going into the closet around family has been normalized, even becoming a joke. The same with detailed questions about relationships, sex or queer life for same-sex attracted individuals, and even more uncomfortable questions for trans, non-binary, gender fluid or agender people.
But the idea of being shunned or criticized by family due to one’s identity should not be normalized. Neither should interest to the point of asking overly invasive questions. Over interest or non acceptance from family members based on sexuality or gender identity is not just another quirky family reunion trope. This over interest into queer people’s lives stems from the idea that they are different enough that they should be criticized or studied, as if they were not regular human beings. When people treat a family member differently because of their identity, whether it is in the form of actual negativity or invasive curiosity that would not be directed towards a cis or straight individual, that is homophobia or transphobia at its most basic level, and it should be recognized as such.
I’ll end with some advice. If you fall anywhere under the LGBTQ+ umbrella and are trying to get through the holidays with family, whether it is due to going back into the closet or dealing with judgment and lots of uncomfortable questions, please know that you are not alone, and you will get through it. Your identity is valid and your own business, and you are not obligated to tell anybody anything you are not comfortable sharing, regardless of your relationship with them. If you need additional help, The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline and GLBT National Help Center all offer support hotlines.
For families who are spending some time with their queer cousins, nieces, nephews or kids this holiday season: If you’re still processing their identity, that’s fine. If you want to accept them and learn more about them, that’s great. But remember that queer relatives are not your personal mouthpiece for their community or sounding board for every question you’ve ever had about how queer relationships, sex or anything else. In other words, if you wouldn’t ask a straight or cis family member how their love life works or what kind of clubs they go to, don’t ask it to your queer family member.
If you’d like to show your support, instead of asking overly personal or invasive questions, consider donating to an organization that supports queer rights this holiday season because quite frankly, they’re going to need your support going forward. The Astraea Lesbian Center for Justice, Avert, Camp Aranu’tiq, Empowering Spirits Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Victory Institution, Kaleidoscope, Lambda Legal and The Trevor Project are just a few inclusive foundations that do great work for queer individuals. Donations are also open for Ohio University’s Tom and Jan Hodson emergency fund, which helps support students who are cut off from their families after coming out.
It’s been a hard year for everyone, and the holiday season is challenging enough, even if all you have to worry about is planning family dinner, shopping and decorating. This year, put some more focus on making things a little easier and more comfortable for everyone around the family dinner table.
Delaney Murray is a freshman studying journalism with a focus in news and information at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Has homophobia or transphobia impacted your family at all? Let Delaney know by emailing her at email@example.com or tweeting her at @delpaulinem.