How to survive a heteronormative Christmas!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, for some!
Christmas can be a time filled with family and friends; where you give gifts, share precious moments and take stock of the past 12 months. But for many in our queer community this time of year can mean something very different.
A reminder of the family that we aren’t quite a part of; constantly feeling at odds because we don’t fit into the heteronormative mould of a white picket fence and kids that much of society still prescribes to. Or feeling our queer pride is shining a little less as we ‘tone it down’ to avoid family conflict over the holidays.
The truth is that for many of us, once the closet door swings open, our family is who we make it. No matter your situation this time of the year can still stir up emotions you thought were dead and buried. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s just happens.
So rather than fall into the holiday blues, comedians Kirsty Webeck and Dean Arcuri teamed up to bring you a handy survival guide that’ll get you through your heteronormative Christmas for another year.
Don’t worry, the right one’ll come along!
No one likes to feel patronised, when a family member tells you ‘You’ll find the right one’, you can’t help but feel that they are holding up a list with their perception of your life and comparing it to your own. It’s easy to make your blood boil but there’s an easy way to handle it.
It’s not about getting mad; it’s about getting even. Your life is not less because your life is not theirs!
It’s time to remind them that you’re cool hanging on the singles table with your other cousins and Aunt Betty as you all struggle through your hangovers.
While their trying to put their kids to bed or cleaning the house for Christmas lunch, you were out on the dance floor or having dinner with friends. You have a life and it is a full one, don’t be afraid to tell them that.
There’s nothing wrong with being aggressively single.
Keeping your family in the loop throughout the year via social media gives you great jumping on points for conversations at Christmas. Plus, it’s a way for you to talk about your life WITH them instead of feeling they are talking at you.
A sure-fire way to shut down the conversation is to dive into your sexcapades. “If you think it is appropriate to validate my singledom by what you think I am missing out on, let me fill you in on what I got up to last night!”
Or the old saying, “Nan, I may not have a girlfriend right now, but at Friday at Fanny’s I had 20!”
Have I told you about my kid’s property or finances?
Sometimes don’t you wish you could just unfollow heteronormative conversations like you can on Facebook? Just because the kids and the mortgage is their life, doesn’t mean yours has to be, and it doesn’t mean you need to feel less because it isn’t.
When they are talking about little Tommy taking his first step and you are talking about that fierce death drop your saw on the dance floor the other night you can fall into the trap of family allocating you to the column of ‘your life is so different’, feeling further disregarded than you did before. Suddenly all you get is passive aggressive supportive conversations that drive you batty.
The best way to shut this down is not with conversation, but with a sassy outfit that helps you feel your queer oats and own who you are. For some this may be as simple as a great pair of heels or a killer cap, for others it could mean a head to toe makeover. Whatever works for you, works for you, so go with it.
While many think Christmas is the time to tone it down or toe the line with family, sometimes stepping things up can help as well. After all, if you feel confident then you are confident, and this helps create a rainbow shield of power that you feel when you’re out on the town, so why not let your family see that in you too.
Remember, you’re a confident queer individual and they can’t take that away from you. And you may not have a mortgage, but this haircut was worth every cent!
That overtly queer Christmas gift you get every year.
Who doesn’t think getting a lesbian a Bunnings voucher is a good idea, or a gay man the DVD of Funny Girl? Your straight relatives!
We all panic when it comes to shopping for the right gift, and while you laugh about it when the wrapping comes off, a token queer Christmas present can sometime feel. well, token. You’re not a human when you get something like that, you’re not a person who could just get some salt and pepper shakers or some Lynx deodorant, your gift must be ‘gay appropriate’.
It’s important to remember that as we get older, no one is good at the gift thing, and instead of getting angry and asking for a receipt, take the acknowledgement of your sexuality for what it is, have a laugh about it and give them a gift that’s sexuality appropriate as well. After all, all straight people could use some condoms, or an Elvis CD, or that Binary Party flyer you found in the bin.
The reality is that you do have to educate some family members on how to treat you like a normal person sometimes, its irritating but it is just a part of life, everyone’s life. This isn’t just a queer dilemma though it can sometimes feel like we never stop doing it. But turn it on its head so that you can all laugh about it instead of feeling like you’re become the families running gag.
Define your gift by their sexuality and you’ll all be laughing!
Won’t you eat chicken, just for today?
Vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, allergic to seafood or maybe you just don’t like it? We have all been asked ‘Why can’t you just eat it today, its Christmas after all’.
If you are like either of our families, Christmas lunch is kind of a big deal, it’s the same massive menu each year and if you don’t want the chicken leg with a side of lamb and some turkey you may end up sitting on the kids table with a bowl of lettuce leaves.
Rather than wait for you having to remind your mum that you haven’t eaten meat for 16 years so why would you start now; you can avoid the endless merry-go-round of dietary requirements by simply preparing something yourself.
Christmas lunch can be super special but rather than pick and choose what you can have while you snack on a Snickers under the table, make something that you can enjoy, or even something everyone else can as well. You never know, you could start a new Christmas food tradition!
Coming out on the holidays?
Out in life but not out to the family? Or you haven’t yet found the right time to come out and you're thinking, since they are all together now telling them would save me on phone credit?
With the countdown to the end of the year approaching you may feel like starting the new year being out and proud is the best way to begin things, but that doesn’t mean the best time to say so is while Grandpa is cutting up the turkey.
If you’re not out of the closet, don’t feel like your less of a person for not stepping up and shouting your sexuality at your family; admitting who you are to yourself is a huge and important step and should be celebrated, but sometimes being ready to tell your family is a whole other thing entirely and you never know which way the conversation will go.
It’s important to make sure you have the right support network around you when you tell them. We’ve all had an escape plan when we have come out of the closet, no matter how supportive our families have been. You must choose the time that suits you to have that conversation, not anyone else. But once you open that door, you can’t close it, and on Christmas day you’ll have nowhere else to go should you need it. But if their Christmas is ruined by your sexuality, then they have bigger fish to fry.
You can always start small, when asked if you’ll find the right man, tell Nan you have, her/his name is Susan/Greg! Acknowledge the conversation you are having but put the ball back in their court to see if they are ready to talk about it with you.
It is entirely up to you and your personal circumstances whether you think that Christmas is the appropriate time to come out of the closet and drop the queer bombshell, or you can wait to the new year when you have the support that you need, sometimes it is easier to just roll with the punches over the holidays. Coming out to your family is a big deal, but there’s no shame in not doing it either.
Just be happy with who you are, the time to tell them is whenever the hell you want to.
If need someone to talk to or are looking for support over the holidays, you can always speak to an LGBTQI peer who understands what you are going through, call 1800 184 527 or head to QLife online from 3pm to 12am every day for support.