Christmas holidays can be a difficult time for some. There is a saturation point after which hearing Mariah Carey sing ‘All I want for Christmas is youuuu’ becomes physically painful. There is the constant fatigue and brain fog caused by the never-ending hangover. And, most of all: the pressure to celebrate it right. Where this just means a whole lotta spending and frantic cooking for some, many gay folks face an added problem. Going to visit a homophobic family. Ouch.
While it is generally accepted that people in the U.K. have grown more progressive over the years, we have a long way to go. According to a Stonewall report entitled ‘LGBT in Britain: Home and Communities’, only half (46%) of gay, lesbian and bi people have come out to their families. This means that many are now under pressure to be sharing jokes and mulled wine with the families that don’t even accept them for who they are. This blog post is for those men who can’t or won’t spend this Christmas in their family circle. Christmas is for everyone, and that includes you. Here are some alternative ways you can partake in the festive cheer.
1. Connect with others who are in the same boat
There are always people who are not going anywhere for Christmas, whether they’re LGBTQ or not. Chat to people in your life about their holidays and see if any of those who are doing ‘nothing’ would like to have a gay Christmas together. Just two people can have one hell of a celebration. Getting drunk and chatting with the TV on reaches a whole new level when you add tinsel, paper crowns and mince pies.
2. Get invited to someone else’s Christmas
When asked about Christmas plans, mention to people that you can’t celebrate with your family and hence will be staying at home alone. One of them might just realise that they have a spare seat at their table, and offer you an invitation. Christmas with other people’s families have been some of the most memorable in my life. Everyone was in the festive spirit and they went out of their way to make me feel extra welcome.
3. Volunteer and help others have a fabulous Christmas
Here’s a surefire way to be surrounded by people over Christmas: volunteer. There are big schemes by charities like Shelter, but also ask around at your local homeless charities, charities supporting older people, churches and food banks. Not only will this leave you feeling like a million bucks, but you will also get a full Christmas dinner and plenty of conversation.
4. Embrace the ‘Home Alone’ gay Christmas
There are upsides to spending Christmas alone. You can have the full Christmas feast for a fraction of the cost, and no one tries to force brussel sprouts down your throat. Forget the traditional ‘must-haves’ (you weren’t a bread sauce guy anyway) and buy yourself anything that your heart desires. Decorate, light up some candles and put on your favourite songs. Of course, you could just spend the day feasting, drinking and watching Die Hard, but if the solitude gets too much, visit your favourite online communities (or even just random chat places like r/CasualConversation) and chat to other people who are not busy carving turkey. You’ll be surprised how many people are at home alone over Christmas.
5. Venture out of the house.
The world is a different place at Christmas. Enjoy the quiet, only disturbed by a few stragglers looking for additional bottles of wine. Some local businesses will be open, partly because not everyone celebrates Christmas, and partly because there will be people like you who are looking for something different. Some pubs will be serving festive drinks and snacks, and what better time to chat to a stranger than at Christmas? At least one conversation topic will be supplied by the occasion. You know what other place is open over Christmas? We are. There will be few masseurs working, but if a massage could brighten up your day, get in touch. Gay Christmas is our kind of Christmas.
Visiting a difficult family?
Deep breath. If you feel that you might face homophobia within your family and still want to see them, come prepared.
- Make plans so you could leave if it all gets too much (friend in the area who could offer you a place to crash? A local B&B that’s open over the holidays?). Set aside a few quid for an emergency.
- It’s cool to blatantly change the topic if the conversation is going in the wrong direction. Ask people about themselves and encourage them to talk. Most people just love to talk about their favourite TV shows and work problems (*yawn*).
- Try to grab a seat next to someone within your family who is an ally. Talk to them and not to the homophobic aunt. There is no rule that says you have to divide your time equally amongst everyone. You have every right to keep yourself safe and enjoy your conversations.
Are you an LGBTQ parent?
Christmas is definitely made better by good deeds (and good karma!), so don’t pass up the opportunity to invite someone who may be spending the festive evening alone. You’ll get some new conversation thrown into the mix, and, let’s face it, without an extra mouth you’re facing another holiday with lots of leftover food that goes to waste. Those mince pies are not going to eat themselves, you know.
Have a merry and gay Christmas, everyone. Stay safe and be excellent to one another. We’ll remain with you throughout, so this is not a goodbye. Only some good wishes for the season that we all must endure, so we might as well enjoy it! Bah humbug is one way to handle the festive season, but equally you can take the aspects of the holiday that you don’t like and change it to something that works for you. I’ve banned sprouts since 2009. Anything is possible.