While many students at Ohio University are excited to go home to see their families and enjoy their regular holiday traditions over winter break, some individuals that identify as LGBT are so anxious about going home that they are dreading it.
Jeremy Sierra, a graduate assistant at the LGBT Center, expressed that it can be hard for students, especially those who have come out before coming to college, to go back home and celebrate holiday traditions with their family.
“For a lot of people in the LGBT community, especially if they are out and their parents didn’t take it very well or their family didn’t take it very well, it’s sort of a rough time for them,” Sierra said. “There’s sort of that period of before being out and after coming out too, if you are sort of the person who does celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year’s with your family and that was a tradition for you and you really enjoyed it, transitioning from that to being out and your family not accepting you could be…it’s rough for a lot of people.”
Religion is commonly used as a reason for not supporting LGBT identifying individuals, and it can be especially problematic during a season of religious celebrations.
“Not all Christians are not accepting, but I know me personally and a lot of my friends… religion has been used against us, so going home and being surrounded by this sort of religious icons and music, Christmas songs, just being bombarded with pictures of Jesus and the Nativity scene…it’s hard because that has been used against you,” Sierra said.
Trying to deal with a family that does not accept who you are in the midst of a season that focuses on quality family time is also hard for LGBT individuals because they can, at times, feel isolated. To combat the feelings of isolation, stress or anxiety that LGBT individuals may experience during the holiday season, the LGBT center offers discussions to talk about how to “survive the holidays.” The center will also be offering a Christmas mealtime on campus on Christmas Day. The event will include food, movies and games for students who are uncomfortable or scared to home.
“We know that this can be a sensitive time for some people, and it’s always nice to be surrounded by people you love,” Sierra said.
For those going home and wondering how they can “survive” the holiday season, Sierra recommends to try and keep in contact with friends made on campus so that you don’t feel isolated and that you have someone you can turn to for help or to vent. In addition to this, Sierra recommends spending time with friends or in a positive environment, and taking time to take care of yourself.
Madison Bailey, a sophomore studying outdoor recreation, discussed how there is always a lingering tension in her home during the holidays, but she can always find solace outside of her biological family.
“The great thing about queer people is that we have our chosen families,” Bailey said. “A lot of times queer people don’t get accepted by their families so they find another group, and I have my group. And I love them. And they support me. And I have my girlfriend and she supports me.”