There are many things to love about going home for the holidays. You get to see your favorite cousin again as your uncles argue about sports in the living room, while your mom and aunts prepare food for the rest of the family. It’s a cliché and stereotypical lifestyle that many of us have in common. But one thing that some of us may not have in common is seeing your family while stuck in the closet. Whether you have to return to a homophobic family that refuses to accept your sexuality/gender identity, or if you simply aren’t ready for your family to know, here are a few reminders and tips to help you as you return home.
- Your feelings are valid
If you find yourself at a cross with your stubborn uncle who refuses to acknowledge that your sexuality is real, then go to a mirror, take a deep breath, and repeat these four words until you feel more at ease: “My feelings are valid.” (It may not feel like it’s helpful, but just remember that you are valid!)
- Create space for yourself
It’s going to be hard to face your family, especially if they constantly remind you of the person you used to be, but you have to be able to create that space so that you’re not being suffocated by their expectations. Go outside and write out your thoughts if you need to, just as long as you give yourself enough time to be in tune with your true self.
- You don’t owe anyone any explanations
Being away from home gives you the freedom to explore yourself more as you figure out who you are as a person. Who cares if your aunt hates your new hairstyle? You love it, and that’s all that matters.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to others
Whether it’s your therapist or an online friend, talking to someone can help you as you navigate through the stress and fear of being in the closet.
- Come out when you’re ready
This is an obvious one, but with the pressure from your friends or family, you may feel the urge to come out even if you’re not fully ready to. But, here’s a friendly reminder: it’s your life, not theirs!
- Coming out is a process
There’s no rush for you to come out. If you feel more comfortable being in the closet, then that’s okay! You’re not any less of an LGBTQ+ person if you didn’t come out until the end of high school, if you still haven’t changed your name, or if you waited until you had a boyfriend or girlfriend as “proof” of what you knew to be true.
You may find yourself constantly having to come out, but you should always remember that you are valid, you are loved, and you are seen. No one, not even your family, should stop you from living your most authentic self.