Coming Out / Over The Holidays

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“Do you have any super gay tips for surviving the holidays when you’re not out to your family? Love you guys!”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Your friends, your friends, snapchat, your friends, tumblr, your cat, your cat, your friends, and the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story.

Seriously.

So very many humans, around this time of year, wind up in a house with a gabillion relatives who don’t know their identity and who insist upon asking questions that can’t be answered (while remaining ‘not out’), or who talk loudly over spiked eggnog about politics in a way that makes steam come off of much more than the holiday-cookie tray. It can be super difficult, especially when you aren’t able to speak your truth in response, and that is why self-care is so, so important at this time of year.

The reason that my list includes ‘your friends’ a hundred times is because I think that the best way to remain centered is to remind yourself that there is an entire world that exists outside of your house. I am hoping, Anonymous, that you have a few friends who do know who you are, and who support and love you. Be in touch with them. Text them when your grandma asks you for the hundredth time about ‘bringing a boy home’ or when your aunt asks you why you support marriage equality. Maybe your relatives are super chill and it isn’t even about them asking questions that make you feel uneasy, but you just aren’t ready to come out – you should still talk to those friends. Tell them how you are feeling, send stupid jokes back and forth, snap them pictures of your snoring uncle, and let them tether you to a place where you know you can be you.

If your friends are all going to a remote island for the holidays and won’t have service, or if you aren’t out to them yet, then… use us. By us I mean the internet. We are all here, all the time, sharing stories of our own holidays at home, giving advice, making memes, and just existing so that you know that you aren’t alone. That’s really the key: hang out with your family as much as you can, but give yourself time with things that make you feel good, happy, and whole.

Now, to the rest of my list: If family members do ask you questions you can’t answer, just shrug and say, “Do you know when the marathon of A Christmas Story starts? My goal this year is to watch it for the entire 24 hours.” If someone says something about politics that makes you feel super angry, grab the family cat, squeeze him tight, take him to your room or a quiet place, and tell him every single thing that made you furious in that moment. Cats are really good at keeping secrets.

Take it one moment at a time, remember to stay connected to support (and laughter), snuggle up in a blanket as often as possible, and know that there are a million billion of us snuggled up in our own blankets who understand exactly how you are feeling. Oh, and know that it’s totally 100% awesome and cool for you to not be out for as long as you want to be.

xx

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"Hi there! Basically, I'm the only person in my family who's not in a relationship, and with Valentine's Day coming up... there's a lot of questions from them about any boys I might be interested in. I'm a lesbian so it's pretty frustrating! Is coming out on/very close to Valentine's day a bad idea? I feel like I'll go mad if they keep asking me questions...but I've read a lot of advice that says not to come out near times like that. Any thoughts?"

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

ANY ADVICE THAT HAS URGED YOU TO NOT COME OUT IS BAD ADVICE. STOP TRUSTING THOSE ADVICE-GIVERS AND WEBSITES. If the coming out is what you want to do, if your heart feels contented at the thought, if your shoulder weight is significantly reduced at the mere suggestion, if you feel safe and if you WANT. TO. COME. OUT. Do it.

Who gives a flying fuck about Valentine’s Day?!?! If anything, this works to your advantage. You can photoshop yourself into a Valentine’s Day card featuring you and Lady Celeb of choice! You can spell “I am a queer” in assorted chocolate bites. You can make a macrame heart and use little pins to write “I HEART LADIES.” The world is legitimately your oyster.

Come out because you want to come out, not because someone told you it’s the right time.

AND HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, YES I WILL BE YOUR VALENTINE THANKS FOR ASKING.

Kristin Says:

YEA DANNIELLE WILL BE YOUR VALENTINE THANK YOU FOR ASKING.

Not coming out near Valentine’s Day is the silliest advice I have ever heard. WHY?! That. It. No sense. It doesn’t make sense. So, since you are coming out on Valentine’s Day to make your family stop yammering about your lack of a boyfriend (and possibly, now, start to yammer about your lack of a girlfriend), here are a few more ideas on how to do it:

1. At family dinner, scream, “ROSES ARE RED VIOLETS ARE BLUE I LIKE GIRLS AND YOU SHOULD TOO!”

2. Buy one of those big teddy bears that say “I Love You,” and tape a sign that says “GIRLS” over the “You.” Leave this on the couch in your family’s house.

3. Put on a recording of “Cupid” by Sam Cooke and at the chorus, sing along, “Cuuuupid drawwww backk youuuur booooow-owwww, and let I’M A LESBIAN shoowwwwww…”

4. Give your family a Valentine’s Day card that says: “To: My Family // Love: Your Gay Daughter.”

5. OMG I don’t know if there is time, but you could get them custom candy hearts that just say, “Lesbian.” Don’t explain anything past that. Just raise your eyebrows.

You’re welcome?

***

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Kristin's Coming Out Story

Mashed potatoes, overcooked stuffing, and an antibiotic-infused Butterball turkey: these are the markers of the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. Unless, of course, you were at my house on Novem- ber 26, 1998. If that were the case, you would have also found a slightly tipsy, wine-drinking mom; a smiling, story-telling dad; a sullen, pre- pubescent little sister; and me at the age of seventeen, clad in Salvation Army–sourced clothing, about to tell my parents that I was gay.

First, some background. Until my senior year in high school, I identified as a straight girl with very close girlfriends and a deep adoration for Liv Tyler. My very observant mother, however, had asked me countless times if I was a lesbian. My answer was always the same: “No, Mom, calm down and stop asking me!” Then, in the fall of 1997, I met a girl. We became friends. We hung out. We kissed. We liked kissing. We did some other stuff. This happened a few times, and then that thing happened. That oh-dear-God-my-stomach-is-squeezed-and-my-heart- is-in-my-throat thing. I liked this girl.

In addition to my oh-my-God-I’m-gay panic, I was horrified that my mother had been right all along. As we all know, telling your parents that they are right about anything is almost impossible between the ages of eleven and twenty-four. I didn’t breathe a word of my gayness to any- one but my close friends for almost a year, which brings us back to the Thanksgiving Day surprise.

Once my sister had left the table, I began to complain about an awful translation of the Bible that had been given to me by a relative. I said something like, “They make it sound like God hates gay people, but that is a load of BS.” My mom looked up from her stuffing, her eyes troubled by my angry tone, and asked, for the hundredth time, “Kristin, is there something you want to tell us?” Then . . . it just happened. I dug my fin- gers into my palm, mustered up as much teenage courage as I could, and answered, “Yes. I want to tell you both that I’m gay.”

Silence.

The first thing my parents said to me, and the thing I will always remember, was that I was their daughter and they would always love me. For that, I was (and still am) very thankful. After this initial reaction, however, my mother began what would be a very long journey in rec- onciling her love for her child with her deeply instilled religious beliefs. The first few years were very hard. My mother and I fought a lot. She cried a lot, and I yelled even more. Through all of it, though, we never stopped loving each other.

Over time, the yelling calmed into a dialogue. She allowed herself to meet my girlfriend. Our conversations progressed, and she began to ask me questions. Slowly, girlfriends were invited over for dinner, and my mother and I found common ground amid differing beliefs.

The thing about coming out is that it isn’t one moment at a Thanksgiving dinner table. It is a process that takes patience, understanding, and com- passion. It is different for everyone. All we can do is share as much of ourselves as we feel comfortable with and work diligently at accepting who we are, with or without the understanding of those around us.

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