I can say I'm very excited to be a new contributor here at The Normal Anomaly to share blogs on the LGBTQ community and mental health. Below I focus on how to support LGBTQ people during this holiday season.
As we approach the holidays, there are many LGBTQIA+ people who will be sitting alone. It is an unfortunate aspect of the ongoing liberation of Queer people that they can be pushed out of spaces like home in which they have grown comfortable. Some people are pushed out for their gender or sexuality, some won’t go home because of the fear of their family finding out, some just simply don’t have the resources to go home and others know that their partner won’t be accepted or will be heavily scrutinized so they don’t go home. Could you imagine the trauma that must arise yearly for a person who can’t go back to the first place that they felt had a sense of normalcy? How this must impact their mental health.
As we go back to the houses where our families live and cook, eat and drink in celebration of the upcoming holidays, I want to remind you to think of the less fortunate. I am not only talking about those that are homeless or displaced-- as we know that is also a disheartening and steadily growing part of the community where 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQIA+, but I am also talking about those that simply don’t have a place to go to that feels like home.
In this way, I have a few tips on assuring that the LGBTQIA+ people in your life feel good during this season.
1. As always, check your privilege.
It is absolutely great to be able to do simple things like help your mom fix the desserts or the main entrees at home. Unfortunately, we all don’t have that privilege. In checking your privilege, it is not about feeling sorry for those around you that don’t have that ability, but giving them a level of understanding you would want one to give if you shared that traumatic experience. Simply put, it’s one thing to express excitement for going with family on holidays and another thing to make one feel like it’s abnormal not to be with family. It is really about the golden rule of treating others the way that you would want to be treated.
2. If you are in a place where one can come, invite them.
We won’t always come to the gathering, but the mere fact we are invited can change a person’s perspective during this necessary time. The idea that we don’t have to spend the holiday alone and can be around a warm, loving family eating a good meal can literally turn a frown upside down. If you are having dinner at your place or your family is progressive, loving and open minded, invite us to the dinner and give us the option of being around people.
3. Always check up on your loved ones.
I always speak about LGBTQIA+ people as your brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and parents because we run the entire gamut of the social spectrum. In this, whether we are blood relative or simply love relative, check on your people during this season. As progressive as the world is becoming, it is still a potentially extremely traumatic life to live as an LGBTQIA+ person. Make sure we are okay every once in a while and reach out to us.
Bonus: As a person in the LGBTQIA+ community, seek help from a therapist
The holidays can be a time of joy but also a tough time for others, especially those in the LGBTQIA+ community that don't have affirming spaces. This can negatively impact your mental health, therefore seeking support from a mental health counselor can help in this time. I take pride in working with the LGBTQIA+ community in a private practice (Amy Wine Counseling Center) that is open to providing counseling services to anyone from this community.
These things will make sure we are allowing everyone the space to enjoy their holidays! Tis the season to be jolly!