Let’s talk about how queers can deal with this potentially awful, awkward or just difficult time of year.

Christmas and New Year’s is always talked up as the time to be with your loved ones, but what happens when your family aren’t exactly down with you being queer?

What happens if your family is stacked with less- than-loving homophobes? Or if they’re just a little weird and ‘don’t ask,
don’t tell’ about it? What about if you bring your partner around to your family home during the holiday season and they’re treated poorly, or ignored, or not acknowledged as your partner but as your ‘friend’? What if your relatives think it’s OK to ask intensely personal questions they’d never dream of asking if you were hetero?

As it turns out, the
magic of the holidays doesn’t quite mean that disapproving or difficult family members will behave differently – but that doesn’t mean we don’t harbour some secret hope that they might.

I remember being on my way to a particular holiday dinner to see my family, hoping that the years between my coming out and that evening would be enough of a buffer for them to have gotten over it. It wasn’t, and having
 my assumptions dashed like that, well, it resulted in my emotional annihilation for the rest of the time I spent with them, until I could scurry home and wonder what the fuck had happened.

Queers work hard to gain a sense of self-worth, and something like feeling barely tolerated by your own family is enough to dismantle it all.

My only words of advice are the result of many years of repeating this cycle with my own family.
 I spend time away from them, and in my head, they mature as people and become less ignorant and shitty. In reality, however, nothing much changes and I’m woefully unprepared for the double whammy
of my expectations falling hilariously short and suddenly having to deal with knuckle-dragger uncles saying stuff to me over dinner that brutalises my soul.

After years of this, I realised I could no longer rely on the magic of holiday time to align reality with my expectations. I decided to just prepare myself – not for the worst, but for some self-care. I’m in a much better place to deal with family issues when I’ve taken the time to look after myself. The rest is harder to plan, though my general rule is to form alliances and try to avoid those who make me feel bad rather than engaging them in a pointless, draining argument that will change no minds.

It’s easy to think up a few canned retorts to some
of the lunatic shit your relatives might say to you at a family dinner, but in the long run it’s better to compartmentalise these people as essentially meaningless and impotent when it comes to damaging your self- worth. It takes a long time to get to that stage, but it is actually possible to feel less pained by this sort of thing eventually.

The really amazing thing is that your private life
is nobody’s business. If things get too personal or invasive, set boundaries. As a queer person, your life is not there to be prodded at and examined without your permission. You’re allowed to not answer questions like, “But which one of you is the man?” and you certainly don’t have to discuss your sex life with anybody else.

When all else fails, try
to laugh through the ridiculousness of it all. Seeing the family can be like a nightmare trip to the circus if they’re a bunch of intolerant jerks, but let yourself be comforted
by the fact that you get to return to your chosen family afterwards.

For the diary..

On Saturday December 31, for those homos
and their pals still left in Sydney, get on down to the Imperial Hotel for some Heaps Gay vibes. It’s the cheapest NYE party in town, and you can count on short bar lines, three stages, 20 acts, party tunes, drag and other performances. The lineup includes Gaff E, Moonsign, Ladonna Rama, The Magda Szubanskis, Simo Soo, Nic Kelly and more. Presale tickets only.

On Saturday January 14, Harpoon Harry in Surry Hills is hosting
a house party not to
be missed. The fourth edition of Harry’s
House Party welcomes New York City house music legends Mood II Swing to the mansion. Also in attendance will be Simon Caldwell, Ben Fester, Kali, Rimbombo and Sydney Pony Club. Tickets are available now.

On Saturday January 21, Giant Dwarf presents Grumble N’ Friends. Join Betty Grumble in an evening of vibrant variety and genre-smashing fun. All are welcome, with more guests to be announced.

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