It seems as though holidays are glorified nearly everywhere you look. You see those commercials of wholesome families sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table and bowing their heads in prayer. You see families working together to decorate the tree, smiling and exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve. You see all these people getting together and having this wonderful time, being united and focusing their love purely on one another.
No one ever shows you the gritty parts, however.
No one shows that conservative uncle you have arguing with your liberal aunt. No one advertises a commercial wherein the Father and Mother of two highly dysfunctional children argue over the meal cooked, how maybe the turkey was a little dry.
And no one shows the struggles people of the LGBT+ community go through.
You might think that the holidays are hard enough on their own, that it’s hard enough to not discuss political views and touchy subjects at the dinner table. Imagine, however, how much harder it is to be sitting at the table, hiding a part of yourself, a part of who you are, grinning and bearing it when your homophobic cousin starts up on a rant. Imagine how hard it is for the people around you to know that part of you, and to be silently judging you, having to pretend that you don’t see the looks they give you. And please, just imagine how hard it is to not even be with family just because that one, beautiful part of you exists.
As the gay stoner explained in one of his recent youtube videos, http://bit.ly/LGBTSDepression , the stress of having to deal with loved ones, having to deal with your own identity leads you to dark places sometimes. It leaves you depressed, it leaves you anxious, and sometimes even suicidal.
My coming out story wasn’t cut clean and clear. It was a slippery slope that started in eighth grade. And once it started, it was never truly over, even five years later.
No one believed me when I told my family that I was gay and in a relationship with a girl. My aunt thought it was a phase, my Dad thought it was a phase, and to top it off, my homophobic uncle didn’t even hear about it because my Mom was too scared to let him know.
Holidays after that became a thing of nightmares.
When family came over, it was terrible to know that they didn’t believe me. It was terrible to know that silently, their judgment was being spoken in their heads. I could see it in them, in the looks they gave me. No one would believe me, this part of me that I was still trying to figure out.
I remember the Christmas before last, I was feeling terribly suicidal. I was dealing with depression and anxiety and all these mental health issues that dampened every cheerful holiday mood that my family was in. And it was only worse when they came over, when I could tell that they were looking at me differently, that they were wondering what was going on with me exactly.
After coming out as gay, I had later come out as pansexual, feeling more comfortable with the label, feeling stable and at home with it. But, no one in my family understood that, no one knew what I meant.
They still thought it was a phase, they still didn’t understand. And I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner feeling lonely, feeling like this terrible odd one out because there were no questions asked about boyfriends or girlfriends. There were no questions asked about if I had found anyone. It was all avoided as though I was something they didn’t want to touch.
It was lonely. And isn’t that the opposite of what the holidays should be? Shouldn’t you feel happy? Loved?
Well, know this. You should be loved, and if you should be loved by anyone, it should be yourself.
No matter what you are, no matter how you identify, gender, sexuality, what have you, you should learn to love those things, those pieces that are a part of you. Maybe your family won’t accept you, but you can learn to accept yourself.
Suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, it’s all such a touchy subject, especially when it pertains to being in the LGBT+ community. But please know that you are not alone.
The holidays are rough, they can be terrible, you can feel lonely and worse than ever, but know that there is always someone out there, a friend, a family of a friend, someone who accepts you. Never feel afraid to reach out, never feel afraid to ask for help. Seek out what you need, and don’t feel selfish about it. Find what you need to continue on and learn to prosper on as you, yourself, as someone who deserves to be accepted and loved, even if it’s by someone other than your family.
No matter your sexual orientation, no matter your gender, you are important, and acceptance of yourself is just as important. It might be rough now, the holidays might be something you dread, but one day, you won’t. One day you may be spending holidays with a friend’s accepting family, and you will feel at home.
No matter where you go, no matter who you are, there’s always hope.