Christmas is a time of celebration and festivities for many. For some of us, Christmas can be a little more challenging…
Before continuing to read this post, I urge you to read my earlier post on a Queer Christmas published last year.
Being queer is hard for a lot of people. It’s easy to believe that lots of progress has been made in LGBTQ+ acceptance and legislation but the truth is, we still have a lot more progress to make. For those among us that are queer and celebrate Christmas, it’s important that we are knowledgeable about this and provide our LGBTQ+ counterparts with support, love, acceptance and space for them to be who they are. Many queer people are rejected during the holidays and feel the need to hide their identity due to dangerous, unsafe and threatening environments. Below is a list of ways in which you can best support your queer friends and family this Christmas:
- Plan nice things with them: this could be going to the cinema, going to your local Christmas markets or it could simply be going for a brisk walk in the snow. Make sure you’re physically there for your queer friend/family member. If it’s not possible to see them during the holidays, then plan something nice to do with them before Christmas and after Christmas.
- Reassure them that it’s okay to be themselves: support your friend/family member in being unapologetically themselves over the festive period, as long as it’s safe to be so. Support them in being their authentic self and reiterate that you accept and love them no matter what. If Christmas provides a safe opportunity for them to express themselves and to ‘come out’, then hold their hand throughout this process. Offer them support from afar if this isn’t possible to do in person.
- Fight against microaggressions and harmful language: I’ve always thought there’s no such thing as aggression being at a ‘micro’ level, if it’s harmful, then it’s harmful. If the people around you are being homophobic, transphobic and ignorant, stand up for your fellow queer friend or family member. This ensures they aren’t placed in a directly harmful and oppressive interaction and means they will feel supported and as though it’s not just their battle to fight.
- Help them enjoy the festive season safely and practice moderation: LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience substance abuse issues and they’re a lot more likely to relapse during the holidays due to the trauma and stress that this time of year can bring about. This can be anything from alcohol to hard drugs. Act as a support system for your fellow queer friend/family member and remind them that they are loved and supported and will be 100% okay without these substances. This can be most effective in person but reminders and affirmations sent digitally can also be beneficial.
- Don’t force Christmas on them: if your friend/family member isn’t bothered about Christmas then it’s best to accept this and be there for them regardless. There are plenty of ways to support your LGBTQ+ counterparts without the support having to be rooted in festivities. The likelihood is that if your friend/family member doesn’t like/celebrate Christmas, there is a valid reason behind this.
- Help them with forced family bonding: for some queer people, they don’t have a choice other then to interact with family members that make them feel rejected and unsafe. Make sure you support them through this and give them space to express how they feel during these interactions. It’s always good to listen to those in need!
- Be part of their ‘chosen family’: LGBTQ+ people choose their family. It’s not always possible to be open and honest about your sexuality and gender identity in front of your biological family, which is why your friends become your ‘chosen family’. Queer people rely more heavily on their friends and develop more intense relationships than most heterosexual people because of this. Ensure that you’re educated about sexuality and gender identity, that you are anti-homophobia and that you are anti-transphobia and do your best to support your queer counterparts.
- Have a safety plan in case it’s needed: this is a heart-breaking one, but a necessary one. Unfortunately, sometimes a crisis is unavoidable and you both need to be prepared for such an outcome. Having an emergency plan set out in the event of a crisis will protect both yourself and your queer friend/family member. When should you call the emergency services? If your queer friend/family member is displaying harmful behaviour and/or conveying dangerous and harmful language about themselves and their life, they should be urged to ring a charity or LGBTQ+ mental health hotline.
Please see below for charities which offer support over the Christmas period exclusively for LGBTQ+ people of colour:
To find charities and support closer to you this Christmas, please refer to this Stonewall support page and select ‘see a list of all QTIPOC-led organisations’ for support local to you this Christmas
You can also find support through these organisations:
University support and further reading: