The holiday season can be an especially lonely time for people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or are in any way outside the ever-shrinking “normal” box.
Queer people often have distant or strained relationships with their families, who don't understand or accept them for who they are. This divide becomes particularly pronounced during the holidays, when daylight and warmth are scarce and we are surrounded by images of family, togetherness, and cheer. When faced with this constant, atmospheric reminder of the joys of family life, a queer person’s alienation from their own family is thrown into sharp relief.
It is often said that LGBTQ folks are the only people who aren’t born into their tribe – instead, they are tasked with finding it themselves, often with little support. And many do, whether it is in the form of a partner and children, or a loving community of friends and peers. But others do not – especially younger queer folks, many of whom came to the Bay Area to flee bad family situations and have not yet built a community of support. The friends they do have may have left to be with their respective families – leaving them with a gaping, aching longing for love and connection, and seemingly no way to satisfy it.
Indeed, it can be a grim time. But if you find that you will be alone this holiday season, consider that it can also be an opportunity – for self-care, reflection, and proactively connecting to the people and things in your life that bring you the most joy. It is an opportunity for meaningful solitude, a chance to reconnect with yourself, and to redirect your energy toward forgotten projects and goals. Write in your journal. Read some good books. Use the time to connect with other “orphans” – acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, whoever they may be. Exercise. Clean. Rejuvenate yourself. Spoil your pet. (If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one.)Try to appreciate the time off, the quiet beauty of winter. Embrace the melancholy as a reminder of how important close relationships are for your well-being, and set goals for yourself about how to cultivate more of them in your life. Send letters or postcards to friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Spend as much time outside as possible: go for hikes, see waterfalls that only flow this time of year.
Whatever you do, do NOT allow yourself to languish, wallow, or stew. Try to resist comparing yourself to others, and rather try to focus on what you can be learned from your situation, the hidden gifts or messages embedded within it. Show yourself some kindness. You deserve it.