What the Holidays Mean for LGBT Individuals
Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season and everyone is excited about getting together with family, celebrating the holidays by giving gifts, sharing love and being thankful for one another. However, for many LGBT individuals, the holiday season is practically one of the most stressful times of the year, especially to those that are not completely out to their families.
Many families get together in unity, love and support for each other. Unfortunately, there are several LGBT individuals whose families do not accept them, even going the lengths of disowning them. This could be a heartbreaking experience for anyone to imagine or encounter. It could potentially lead to harmful effects, including but not limited to reckless behavior, substance abuse, and even suicide. It is very important that LGBT individuals surround themselves with a solid support system that they could see as family. This support system would be an alternative in case things do not work out with one’s family.
Some LGBT individuals before, during, or after the holidays have the experience of coming out to their families for the first time, making it even more stressful of a season when everyone is getting together for holiday functions. Many are afraid to be themselves because they are afraid of the reactions they will receive by loved ones. However, it is important that everyone should be thankful for each other’s company and the holidays is meant to bring everyone together because the next day is never promised for everyone.
For those families who have LGBT members in their family, remember that this is just as hard on them as it is for you because their orientation or gender identity is a part of who they are. At the end of the day, it is the LGBT individual who has to live with that 24/7, not you. At the same time, they are still the same person that they were before coming out, so just be respectful and in time, you will eventually accept them just as they have gone through the process of accepting themselves.
For LGBT individuals, just because you came out publicly to everyone for the first time and live your life as an openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered person does not mean that the coming out process is over. Once you come out, you will have to come out many times in your life. However, as always, it is not safe to assume that you know how someone is going to react because you will be surprised at how much the world has changed throughout time. It may be the one that you assumed would react negatively the most is probably the most accepting member of the family.
Eventually, (and hopefully as long as the community continues to educate and advocate acceptance and tolerance amongst society) the world will come to a place where sexual orientation and gender identity, just like race, disability, and other factors beyond one’s control, does not matter. The community is working and fighting hard to build that foundation where others recognize LGBT individuals not by their sexual orientation or gender identity primarily, but as human beings who just happen to be that way. Once society gets to that point, more than likely the stressful days of the holiday season will come to pass, but until then, just be yourself, be respectful, be honest, and let time work everything out because time and patience heals the soul.