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Holiday Tips for Queer Folks!, by Jacki

The holidays can be a joyous, celebratory time. They can be full of dread. They can be a mix of ALL THE THINGS! Here are some tips to help you through.

Have your support squad on standby. Let some close friends know what’s going on and ask if you can reach out to them if things get to be too much. Having a touchpoint with someone who gets you and who you are can help you get through what could be a tough time (even when those at your holiday gathering have the best intentions). 

Remember, you’re doing great. Going back home doesn’t have to mean going back in time. Even if your family is supportive, it can feel weird and stressful to be back in an environment that reminds you of a former version of yourself. Just remember, it doesn’t erase all the progress you’ve made. Be gentle with yourself.

Stay home (if you’re old enough you can do this). If you’re worried about putting yourself in a place where you’ll be misgendered and subject to homophobia and transphobia, maybe think about staying put. It’s ok not to want to go “home” or gather with extended family. It’s ok to spend this time with friends and chosen family instead. It’s ok to not celebrate at all.

Connect with folks. It may be hard to for people to understand what this is like for you, unless they’re queer, too. Give yourself a chance to connect with other queer folks online who may ‘get you’ in a way others may not. Maybe even set up a time to have an online gathering of your chosen family and friends. 

Check out a cheesy queer holiday movie. The Holiday Sitter is the first Hallmark Channel’s first-ever queer Christmas film. We deserve so-bad-they’re-good cheesy movies, too, and this one delivers! 

Set boundaries. You do not have to compromise yourself and who you are to make others happy. Think about what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do. You have a right to say what you need and you have the right to say no to things that don’t make you happy. You’re allowed to take care of yourself. Some examples of stating boundaries might be: I’m not comfortable talking about this right now. I’d like to shift the conversation. I’m going to leave the room if my pronouns are not respected.

Write some notes of affirmation. Creating some notes of affirmation and having them with you can help you recentre. Save them in a spot you can access them and use them if things get overwhelming. Some examples might be: I give myself permission to do what is right for me. I am enough as I am. I am worthy of love and joy.  

Have a back-up plan. If you’re anticipating things being particularly tough, think about having a “just in case” plan in place. Maybe you have an aunt or friend nearby where you could stay instead. Talk to them before you go and ask if it’s ok if you go to their place, for a bit of a break or maybe for the rest of your visit. Even if you don’t need it, having the reassurance of a plan can help.

Make time to be alone. Your family may be supportive and it can still be exhausting. If they’re not, it can be super exhausting. Maybe go for a walk. Read a book. Listen to music. Snuggle a pet. Take a nap. Take care of yourself in whatever way you need to. 

Journal. Have some things in your head that you want to say? A journal is a place where you don’t have to make sense. You can be petty or angry or however you’re feeling. Getting it out of your head an into a journal can help.

Set expectations. Don’t assume things will be different this holiday if they’ve been tough in the past and nothing has changed. Protect your energy and your heart. You may not be able to change other people, but you can change the way it affects you. Remember that even if the present moment is hard, there is always hope for a better future. 

Know your outside supports. There are hotlines and resources out there for you.  

lgbtyouthline.ca for online chat; text 647.694.4275; call 1.800.268.9688 *Check hours online 

TransLifeline.org – Canada 877.330.6366 

KidsHelpPhone.ca – text 686868 or call 1.800.668.6868 

Wellness Together Canada – text HOME to 741741 or online crisistextline.org (also available via WhatsApp) 

Bonus tip for allies! This is your chance. Speak up when that uncle makes a transphobic “joke” (Pro-tip: Ask, “I’m sorry. I don’t get it. Can you explain the joke?… I still don’t get it. Why is it funny?”). Say something when your cousin’s wife gives her hurtful “opinion” on [drag queen storytimes/gender-affirming care/insert harmful belief here]. Ask your queer/questioning family member if they want to go for a walk with you or listen to some music away from the rest of the family, if things get to be a bit much.  

A Video Message for Queer Youth. Yes, this is referencing Thanksgiving, but the message is the same for whatever holiday you’re celebrating.  

 

More resources:

FOLX Holiday Survival Guide

First Aid Kit for Queer Family Holidays

For more holiday tips, check out our post on KWCounselling.com

Sources:

www.them.us/story/queer-holiday-survival-guide

queer.stanford.edu/resources/first-aid-kit-queer-family-holidays

www.queertheology.com/queer-holiday-tips