The holiday season at the end of the year is not always a welcome or happy time of year for many people, and this time of year is particularly difficult for many LGBTQ* people. The begin, for many of us “family” is a very complicated matter. Consider these snippets-
- Jane and Mary have lived together for over 20 years, in a home they both enjoy immensely. They savor time together at home because they both have demanding work schedules. But when the holidays come, each of their parents insist that they “come home.” Neither Jane or Mary have ever told their parents about the nature of their relationship; each set of parents know they live together but assume that they are doing so just to share expenses until they find “the right person.” Jane and Mary love their parents and siblings, but they know that there would be a huge price to pay if they came out. So they each travel the long distance to their respective parents’ homes, torn between their families of origin, and their deep desire to one day be free to share the holidays with one another.
- Katsui lives alone in a modest apartment near his work, and he enjoys an active social life with many other LGBTQ people near where he lives. He immigrated from Japan because of his job. When the holidays roll around, most of his friends take off to spend time with their families of origin, or, a few splurge on an exotic holiday trip with other LGBTQ friends – an indulgence that is far out of reach for him to even consider. So he stocks up on beer and snacks, rents a bunch of movies, and drinks and sleeps the holidays away
- Vernice finally decided to transition to her life-long gender identity in the summer. She shared her decision with her mother, who was supportive but worried about how to “deal” with the change with Vernice’s father, and neither Vernice nor her mother have been able to find the courage to deal with Dad. Now as the holidays approach, they both agonize about what to do, and are deeply distressed that they cannot spend even a day together at this time of year.
There are hundreds of stories like these, all reflecting the suffering and stress that so many in our communities face. So here is the challenge that I offer to everyone who reads this blog — reach out to someone you know who just might be facing a difficult “family” issue at this holiday season. You may not be able to offer material or substantial help or alternatives, but you can learn their story. The sharing of stories like these is, in fact, a type of “coming out” that strengthens everyone’s appreciation of the realities of our lives, and can provide the kind of support that eventually leads to positive alternatives.