SURPRISE! Donald Trump is going to be in the White House in a matter of weeks. ANOTHER SURPRISE! You have racist cousins. Okay, the second one isn’t exactly a surprise, you’ve been home for holidays before and had to navigate the grumbles from conservative family members who don’t approve of your lifestyle but bury it in bottomless mimosas and small talk.
This year, I don’t have the energy for small talk. I don’t have the energy for chatting about the weather, and traffic, and how good Aunt Denise’s mashed cauliflower is. “Wow it tastes just like potatoes!” NO IT DOESN’T, DENISE. It tastes like garlic cauliflower. And if I have to awkwardly sit across from someone who calls the woman I love, the woman I cohabitate with, the woman I am raising DOGS with, “my roommate,” you better believe that I am going to have a short fuse about what my anyone has to say about my identity.
This year, I am just plain out of energy. Sure, he’s a racist, xenophobic, misogynist, but if that WASN’T enough for your family, he’s also a homophobe. Holding up a rainbow flag with an incorrect acronym written in sharpie doesn’t make you an ally when you back anti-LGBTQ and anti-women’s rights and anti-immigration policies. Oh, and his VP is an actual piece of wet toast who is pro-conversion therapy for minors (including use of electroshock) and passed one of the most restrictive religious freedom bills in the country. Don’t tell me he’s not homophobic.
And yea, I’m not a single issue voter, but I do vote on whether I will be allowed to marry who I love and work without fear of termination. I vote on whether my friends and chosen family will be able to using a public restroom without harassment or violence. So I am giving you permission, and giving us all permission, to not go home. To take some time. Because not even the most glamorous bottomless mimosa bar will get a lot of us home for the holidays this year… and mama loves her a mimosa bar!
Here are a few things you can do besides attempt to string together the shattered pieces of your childhood (too dramatic? GOOD):
1. Explain to your family why you are not going home (if they are receptive to an adult conversation). Have authentic conversations if you can about why heading home to an environment is more damaging than fulfilling is not worth all the breakfast casseroles in the world.
2. Take all that money you saved on flying/driving home, buying gifts for people you rarely see, and DONATE it to a good cause. Do 10 minutes of research, or call a friend who is an activist, and find out what funds could make a difference to a Pro-LGBT organization in your town, county, or state. Not sure where to direct funds? A local ACLU branch is always a good move and you know it will go to a good cause. Here in Central Ohio, we have amazing legal organizations like the ACLU but we also have Legal Aid and LGBTQ-focused advocacy organizations like Stonewall Columbus and Equality Ohio.
3. Create your own family. LGBTQ folks have been kicked out of their homes for decades, welcome to the club. Join your forequeers and get a group of friends together that also don’t feel comfortable going home to their extended families. Do what we do best: make delicious food, laugh, and destroy the patriarchy. I also recommend Yahtzee. It’s the perfect game for smashing gender norms.
4. Get out in the community and see that the struggles of LGBTQ folks intersect with issues of race, immigration status, and homelessness. Attend a BLM protest or volunteer for a few hours at a soup kitchen. Queer folks are everywhere and you can do more for them outside of your home than hiding being your computer writing snarky tweets (which you can also do on your way to the protest or homeless shelter. No one is trying to take your twitter away.)
You can do 1, 2, 3, or allllll 4. You do you, boo. And when your family or friends say you are being dramatic, remind them that your life and your choices deserve just as much respect as theirs. You want to be an ally? Stuff it… in your ballot box. Then you will get a chance to try my garlic mashed potatoes and get to spend the holidays with me… because I am lovely. We are lovely.
When your actions reflect your relationships, that’s when we all will come home.