Queer Thanksgiving Survival Guide
Dreading Thanksgiving this year because of the inevitable tense relationship between your family and your queerness, polyamory, or progressive ideals? Here are a few tips for survival:
- If you’re hiding a secret from your family, whether your gender, your sexuality, the existence of a partner, or something else, Thanksgiving can be particularly tough. If you’d rather stay quiet, be prepared for awkward questions and have a dodge ready. If you’re not comfortable lying to the inevitable questions about a partner, job, or something else that intersects with the secret, try flipping the question around. “Still single this year?” “I’m pretty busy these days with work… so how are things with Susie?” You can always tune out the answer.
- If you do want to come out, see whether you can arrange for some moral support. Whether that’s enlisting a supportive family member or bringing along a friend, if worse comes to worse you can always escape with that person–or at least take a long walk together to release some tension. If you’re coming out as queer or poly, of course, your partner might be the secret–and depending on your family members’ personalities, that might ease them into it. It might be harder to get upset to your partner’s face, and that time with them present could give family a chance to get used to it. If you can’t bring someone, arrange a call or IM date for Thursday night so you know you’ll have some support if you need it.
- What about dinner table conversation? It can be awkward if your job at a great feminist organization, your participation in Occupy Wall Street, or your recent article on sex worker’s rights comes up during Thanksgiving dinner. Or the reverse might happen–what do you do when the Republican debates come up, or your family is cheerfully celebrating a holiday that’s all about how thankful we are that genocide succeeded? Again, allies are helpful, but if you don’t have anyone available on your side of the debate, try reframing the discussion in a way that makes more sense to your family. Set up a hypothetical or tell a heartstrings story about the 99% or a child abuse victim your organization helped. Sometimes the kind of thing that would never work in an argument with a friend will fly with family that just haven’t thought that hard about it yet. The same tactic can be helpful when trying to explain something your family just hasn’t been exposed to, like genderqueerness, kink, or polyamory. Even a BDSM relationship can be distilled down to good ole’ American values if you try hard enough.
- Make plans for Friday. If all else fails, it’s good to be able to decompress with people you actually like. When the family rushes to the mall Friday morning, escape to the comfort of friends. Have a leftovers potluck–if you drink, bring plenty of booze. Sob stories turn hilarious over bourbon and leftover sweet potato casserole. If you’re not near your friends and/or partners, look for meetups in your area. Sometimes LGBT centers do Thanksgiving weekend dos, or you can just poke around a social networking site looking for likeminded folks. Of course, remember to be safe!
I hope all my US readers have a safe and relatively happy holiday weekend. I’ll be spending a large portion of it on Twitter, so feel free to say hi.