Leaving Queerville For Your Family Of Origin This Season?

sad christmas time

Tips for a Healthier Happy Trip

Whoever said “there’s no place like home for the holidays” probably wasn’t queer, I’m guessing.

As LBT folks, we often have complicated relationships with our family not just because of our sexual orientation or gender identity or gender presentation but also because of misunderstandings with our queer processing language, and sometimes because of politics.

I’m not an expert on wrenching the fun out of dysfunctional families but I’ve learned a few things. Mostly the hard way.

Some hints:

  • Do you actually need to be with your family of origin on the holidays? Yes, I get that you don’t want to disappoint your great grandmother, but if you can’t really talk with her at big holiday gatherings, perhaps you could make a very short stop in for the holiday and claim you are “on call” if that seems even remotely possible with your job. Then take your great grandmother out for a night on the town another day.
  • Have some standards and express them. They can be high standards or they can be low standards but just having some guidelines about how you will or won’t be treated can help you feel more in control. One of my “absolute no” guidelines with my family is “don’t comment on my body.” Sometimes they are good about it, sometimes they aren’t, but at least they know they are out of line when they do.
  • Don’t abandon your stress coping mechanisms. If you do yoga every day, bring your mat and use your iYOGA app (if that exists) to let all that pent out energy from dealing with your Aunt Susie’s micro-aggressions. Or macro-agressions.
  • Don’t use queer processing language with your family’s equivalent SNL’s Weekend Update Drunk Uncle.  He is not going to get “I statements” and you will be very frustrated.
  • You didn’t abandon your coping mechanisms, did you?
  • Write down safe conversational topics in advance. If you want to discuss politics or queer marriage or the Affordable Care Act because you think it’s an exciting way to interact with your family, awesome, but let it be intentional not because the conversation drifts that way.
  • Bring your own food. Maybe not the entire meal, but if you need gluten free, vegetarian, sugar free, cruelty free, etc it might be more realistic to bring your own super tasty fill in the blank dish and resign yourself to eating that. If someone else figures out that vegetarian doesn’t mean “meat without bones” you’ll have more options, but at least you won’t be dealing with your blood sugar bottoming out.
  • Suggest a walk after every large meal. If other family members won’t go with you, awesome, you get some time to yourself and a way to work off some family stress.
  • Schedule a big meal with your big queer family before or after your family of origin outing. Save that good energy or renew it.