Earlier this week, we posted tips for our GLBT friends to help make the holiday with family a little less stressful. Today we offer tips for family members and allies. Historical evidence shows higher instances of ‘coming out’ over the holidays. Following some of these simple suggestions may help ensure everyone has a comfortable, loving, and supportive experience during this special holiday season.
If you are the friend or family member of someone gay…
- Get support for yourself. It is important to realize you are not alone. Find the phone number of the nearest Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter.
- Take your time. Acceptance may not come instantly, but be honest about your feelings.
- Don’t be nervous about using the “correct” language. Honesty and openness creates warmth, sincerity and a deeper bond in a relationship. If you are not sure what is appropriate, ask for help.
- Realize that the situation may be as difficult and awkward for your GLBT loved one as it is for you.
Before the visit…
- Practice in advance if you are going to be discussing your family member’s sexual orientation or gender identity with family and friends. If you are comfortable talking about it, your family and friends will probably be more comfortable too.
- Anticipate potential problems, but do not assume the reactions will always be what you expected.
- Consult with your GLBT loved one when coordinating sleeping arrangements if he or she is bringing home a partner.
- If your family member is transgender, practice using the correct pronouns.
During the visit…
- Treat a GLBT person like you would treat anyone else in your family.
- Take interest in your family member’s life. He or she is still the same person.
- Don’t ask your GLBT family member to act a certain way. Let them be their natural selves.
- If your GLBT family member is bringing a partner, acknowledge him or her as you would any other family member’s partner.
- If your GLBT family member is bringing a partner, include him or her in your family traditions.
- Ask your GLBT family member about his or her partner if you know they have one.
May each and every one of you enjoy the peace, hope and love of the holiday season.