Make the Holidays More Holi-GAY

Holiday season is upon us. 

Safe to say this time of year can be a mixed bag? Our desire for connectivity and festive cheer are up against stressful logistics of schlepping to visit family, or the self-protection needed to endure unpleasant conversations with well-meaning relatives. 

What we want and need becomes a setup for disappointment. It’s isolating to feel misunderstood, but held against a backdrop of time we are told is meant for joy and gratitude? There’s real grief in that.

LGBTQ+ youth have to navigate these very challenges. Unsupportive families, heightened anxiety about how to present, and/or concerns around being misunderstood. All I want for Christmas is not to be dead-named... Am I right!?

So today I share with you - and specifically any young person who may find it helpful - Hot tips on how to make this holiDay season a bit more holiGay. Because perhaps this year can be different. Let's try to make it so.

  • Make a Plan for Care 

When we know a storm is coming, we do what we can to prepare. Before the holiday season kicks into full gear, I always spend a little time thinking about what I need for self-care. Maybe it’s certain jewelry or comfy sweats, a favorite book, a playlist, or being outside. It’s like putting together a personal survival kit.

  • Connect with Chosen Family 

Chosen families – the people who fully accept and support us just as we are – can be a great source of strength for us queers. Let the family and friends you trust know just how important it is that you connect with them over the holidays. Even if it’s a facetime or a text thread - figure out how to make that happen. We all need our people. Who helps you feel a sense of belonging and understanding?

  • Create Your Safe Spaces 

If you're in a situation where you aren’t feeling welcome, try to create a personal safe space where you can just be. Maybe it’s your room, a friend's house, a spot in nature, or even a virtual space. Heck, sometimes for me it’s just going into the bathroom. I mean, there’s something to be said for resetting in a spot where people are accustomed to assuming privacy!

  • Practice Self-Care 

Prioritizing taking care of yourself is hardly selfish; it’s awesome for you! And totally necessary for us all. Lately for me that has looked like playing the guitar, listening to music, hanging with my cat, reading, or simply taking a walk. For others I know it’s meditating, journaling, and watching repeats of their favorite shows. What’s it for you?

  • Boundaries are Beautiful 

We all need to set boundaries even in the best of circumstances. It's okay to set boundaries with family members who aren’t supportive or understanding of your identity. It might mean limiting certain conversations, or talking more with certain people who you know are respectful. Setting a boundary might sound like: “When you say that thing it feels really unsupportive and challenging to me. Can we agree to talk about something else instead?” "Just because you don’t understand, doesn’t mean you can’t trust me. I need to feel safe and respected, so either let’s talk about something else, or please turn down the volume on the judgment and approach this topic with more curiosity and care.” If those feel out of reach, another go-to that's a sure winner: “Excuse me a sec. I need to go pee.”

  • Seek Support 

Even if you feel hesitant, please do reach out for support. This could be a trusted friend, a counselor, or even a support hotline. (Check out more resources here.) Remember, you are not alone. Your feelings are valid. We lift each other up. We are in this together.

  • Celebrate Your Identity 

During the holidays, I find ways to ground back into my identity, even if I am the only one who knows what I'm doing. Secret superpower items like wearing queer socks or a special necklace often do the trick. Maybe for you it’s wearing something you feel confident in, or finally coloring your hair. Maybe it’s carrying a special note in your pocket, or having a rainbow candle to light for some extra solidarity sparkle!

  • Be Mindful of Social Media Consumption 

Social media can be a tricky beast. It’s a way to stay connected to community, and there's ease to getting lost in the scroll, but it also comes at a price. Most social media portrays a highly edited, idealized version of the holidays, and that’s tough. When I find myself going deep into insta land, I pause to notice how I’m feeling both in my body and thoughts. 

Am I thinking things like, “I wish I had that,” or “That will never be me”? Is my body tense? Stomach queasy? If so, perhaps it’s time to switch gears, or at least take a little break.

  • Remind Yourself that You’re Amazing 

We all need pep talks. I like to have a few words or phrases ready to go that boost me up if I am feeling unsure. A few I’ve used recently: 

"You got this."

"You are being brave."

"I love being trans!"

"F*** the binary!"

  • Make a post-holiday plan 

It’s really great to have things in the future to look forward to! Can you make a plan to hang with a friend, go to a group, or just do something solo that makes you feel good? If you need a reminder of other ways to connect through Outright, follow us on social or check out the website. We got you!

As you get ready to juggle joy, difficult family circumstances, and answering all of Grandma's questions about how being a 'social media influencer' is actually a legit job, know that your Outright fam is thinking of you. Stay cool and keep those TikTok dances coming!

Parents and caregivers: we’ve always got you in mind too! 

In case you missed it, we just released Handling With Care, a comprehensive resource that invites you to deepen support and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ youth in your lives. The toolkit provides guidance on how to create a culture of care in our homes and communities, through personal narratives, actionable advice, and tools like self-reflection worksheets and the latest vocabulary. Essentials to a holiGay experience for LGBTQ+ youth include adults who can communicate affirmation and safety by:

  • Using correct names and pronouns.
  • Communicating the ways your love and support are unconditional.
  • Encouraging youth to express themselves authentically.
  • Making your support visible.
  • Honoring their multiple identities, interests.

To learn more about how to cultivate a caring connection and develop an affirming network, download Handling With Care today!

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