Some Queer Survival Tips This Thanksgiving
1) Count your spoons before you engage. If your family’s anything like mine, they love to pry and belabor a point past when it’s appropriate. You 100% do not have to challenge your family members or start up discourse if you don’t have the patience for it. Sometimes it’s best to just gently deflect or even just let a comment fly past as you change the subject. Get good at steering the conversation to other places.
“Hey Gabie. No boyfriend you wanna bring home to the family?”
“No, I’m really busy trying to find a job. But hey, how’s Brian doing I heard he’s applying dental school.”
“*insert random stupid homophobic comment here*”
“Hey Linda, did you ever finish telling us about what happened to that noisy neighbor you reported.”
2) If you do get into a political/discoursey conversation, don’t be afraid to walk away. You are not responsible for combatting every instance of bigotry that happens around you. If anything, this is the day to really prioritize your health and happiness. If you see that a conversation is getting you upset and heated, ask to change the subject. Or just get up and go for a walk to clear your head. I know it’s hard to bite your tongue, but sometimes it’s best to just let things go and calm yourself down so you can survive the rest of the evening. Again. Be mindful of how many spoons you have.
3) Have a friend nearby if you can. Before I was out, my sister was always who I vented to whenever I had to be around family members who were being homophobic. If you have a sibling or a family member who you’re out to or who you know is more open minded, stick close to them. If you have a friend, invite them over for Thanksgiving. That way if things get to be too much, you can at least plan your evening so that you can spend time with them or have a moment alone with them to vent if things get upsetting.
4) Take time to yourself. This one can be hard because I know my family expects me to socialize non-stop all evening. But, if you can manage it, say you’re not feeling well and that you need some fresh air. Say you need to walk the dog. Say you’re checking on a neighbor. Say you need to look for something in your room. Anything you can to just get away from the nonsense and practice some self-care and get your wits about you before you jump back in to deal with your family again.
5) Remember your self-care! Writing helps me a LOT during the holidays, so that’s what I do to practice self-care when the homophobic relatives get to be too much. Find what works for you. Journaling, drawing, listening to music, playing a game (i HIGHLY recommend Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in these trying times :P), going for a walk, meditating, breathing, etc. Finding relaxing things to ground you and get your tolerance back up is going to really make a difference.
6) Online friends are a blessing! Check in with your Discord and Tumblr friends if you can. Found families are a real blessing during family holidays like this, and there’s no shame in taking some time to check your phone to keep up with online friends. You can pretend you’re checking emails or dealing with an emergency while you check in with the people you care about. Do not forget, there are plenty of people in the world who love and care about you even though they may not be next door to you.
7) Have an exit strategy! This is important. If a conversation or an interaction is really getting overwhelming and you can’t figure out a way to deflect or walk away from it, have a friend on call that you can text a quick “SOS!” to so that they can call you and pull you away from the conversation. It’s a great way to get some time alone, vent, decompress, and get away from a tough situation. If you have friends or supportive relatives in the house with you, come up with a signal so that they can pull you away to check on the food, to get seconds, to find the desserts, or whatever excuse you can think of.
8) If you can, make plans on Friday. Seriously, get out the house. Chances are some of your family members are going to be milling about the day after Thanksgiving. Don’t feel like you have to stomach them longer than you have to. Hang out with your friends. Visit someone else’s house. Try to keep Friday for yourself if you can just so you can have a day where you can breathe and recharge with people you care about.
9) Finally, be kind to yourself. Prioritize you and getting yourself through the day. Do what you need to do to make YOU happy and comfortable. You’re beautiful. You’re wonderful. You’re important. You’ll get through it. <3