Christmas is Coming...Out!
Publish Date: 17/12/2012
Christmas is Coming…Out!
The temperature’s dropped and the city streets are heaving with increasingly harassed shoppers – it must mean one thing: Christmas is coming.
For people who don’t live near their family, Christmas is one of the few occasions when they’ll get together with their relatives. For lesbian, gay and bisexual people who aren’t yet out to their family, the festive season may be their one chance to come out to relatives in person.
This can add additional strain to an already stressful family gathering but can also have positive results.
“I was living a long way away from my family and only saw them once or twice a year. I had been out to my friends for several years but hadn’t told my parents and siblings – they are very religious and I had heard many times how much they disapproved of gay people. However, I’d been with my girlfriend for nearly a year and things were getting serious. I wanted to tell them I was gay and also wanted them to know that I was happy and in a loving relationship with someone who was very special to me.
"I went home for a week over Christmas determined to tell my parents but petrified about what the reaction might be. Given their views on gay people, I wasn’t entirely sure that they wouldn’t disown me, or at least not want to see me for a while. My family are close and I had a fun Christmas catching up with my parents, grandparents and siblings and playing with my nieces and nephews but the whole time I felt a bit sick to my stomach, knowing that I wanted to tell them I am gay but never quite finding the right moment.
"Christmas Day came and went and all too soon I found myself alone in a car with my mum, heading back to the airport. I realised it really was now or never: I had to tell her in person now or wait many months for another opportunity.
"In retrospect, it may have been better to ask my mum to pull over before I started talking but luckily I didn’t cause a car crash! I told her I was a lesbian and she was a bit shocked but almost immediately said she realised that it must have been very hard for me to tell her and that she still loved me. That was the most important thing for me – that I wasn’t immediately being disowned. We talked all the way to the airport and she asked lots of questions, some of them pretty awkward, but at least I got on the plane knowing that I still had a relationship with my family.
"Over the next few days my mum told my dad and my brother and sister. They all contacted me to let me know they still loved me and wanted me to be happy.
It’s now been seven years since that eventful car journey and the journey since then has been equally eventful. Coming out and being out to my family hasn’t been easy - there have been many times since then when they’ve said or done things that have been hurtful. They live in a very homophobic community and it’s been hard for them to reconcile my gayness with their faith. But they get along really well with my partner and we have since spent two Christmases back home with them all.”
Thinking of Coming out over Christmas
If you’re thinking of coming out over Christmas, you may want to think about who you’re going to tell, what you’re going to say and when you’re going to say it. Blurting out news about your sexual orientation just as everyone tucks into their Christmas dinner may not be the best plan! Check out the Coming Out Support section of our website for some dos and don’ts.
You might find that you want to talk through your options before you broach the subject with your family – our telephone helpline, email advice or face-to-face pop-in service could help with that. If you’re already out to friends who are supportive you could tell them what you’re planning to do, so they can be contactable to provide support if you need it.
Don’t forget, your ‘family’ at LGBT Foundation are here if you need us. Our office at Number 5, Richmond Street will be open for pop-ins until 4pm on Christmas Eve. The building is then closed until Tuesday 29th December but our dedicated volunteers will be providing remote coverage for the Helpline, so there’ll be someone there to talk to if you need to – just call us on 0345 3 30 30 30. The Helpline is open 11am-7pm every day over Christmas, including Christmas Day.
Click on the links below to read other articles in our Surviving Christmas guide: