Coming Out for the Holidays

The holiday season is officially here! This year, more than ever, people are looking at the holidays as a way to escape the tension we have all been experiencing as a result of Covid-19. 

Months of stress caused by uncertainty, lockdowns and fear have resulted in many of us, including those who are members of the LGBTQ community, to reevaluate how we live our lives.  Some of us have spent much more time (hours….days…..and even months) with our families and/or our significant others. Relationships have changed and grown. Many have recognized how blessed they are to have their health. And some, who have kept the fact that they are a member of the LBGTQ community to themselves, are now ready to share.

Keeping Your Sexual Identity Secret

Being around your family and not being able to express yourself can result in increased anxiety and depression.  That said, those who have not shared who they are with their family and friends have likely had very valid reasons for their decisions. 

Perhaps they have been concerned with how their families would react. Would they be supportive and accepting? While some individuals know their families are not allies of the community (perhaps they have strong religious beliefs), others may simply be unsure. To be honest, if one’s family and/or friends believe someone to be heterosexual, news to the contrary can be shocking.  That said, the concern often lies not in the initial shock, but in the desire for ultimate acceptance and love.

Thoughts About Coming Out

If you have made the decision to come out to your family and friends this holiday season, think about incorporating the following suggestions.

Consider the Time and Place

Many are spending this holiday season with immediate family only, in order to maintain everyones’ health and well-being.  That said, some immediate families are large. It may be easier to share your information on a smaller scale, perhaps with a close sibling or just your parents initially. This may be less stressful than making an announcement at a crowded dinner table.

If Possible, Have and End Game Plan

Regardless of how you expect your family to react, it may be wise to have a plan for the end of the evening.  Holiday dinners can be stressful, and opening yourself up can be nerve wracking.  If you can (and you are comfortable), plan to go back home at the end of the evening, maybe even meet a friend.  Some quiet time to reflect may be good for everyone.

Manage Your Expectations

Understand that your announcement may be met with a variety of responses.  In some families everyone “always knew” and were just waiting for you to share yourself.  In others, people may be more surprised or even less accepting.  Individuals’ beliefs are often the result of how they were raised and life long teachings.  Give people a chance to let your news “sink in”.  Hopefully, they will realize that you are the same person you have always been. 

If you are planning to “come out” this holiday season know that you always have the support of your friends in the LGBTQ community.  And, if you have a friend or family member who you know is going to share their true self this year, make it a point to be available to them. The support and love from people important to you is truly a gift.  And remember, love IS love.