Happy Homophobic Holidays!

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Feeling the loss of the yuletide season? Will it take you months to recover from your favourite time of year? Do you Love Christmas? Love the season of giving? Love homophobic family members who make you want to cry? No? Congratulations, you’ve come to the right place. I am glad that I can say goodbye to the festive season for another 12 months.

Every year, for the entirety of December (longer depending on your commitment to consumerism), Christmas is all anyone talks about. It’s all about buying your loved ones the best presents, having the best Christmas dinner and most of it all – it’s about catching up with your entire extended family. I’m talking siblings who’ve moved out, grandparents in residential care, even awkward phone calls with relations halfway across the world.

The very thought of doing this must fill the hearts of so many people with joy. Why wouldn’t it? Your family know you inside and out. They accept you for who you are. They would defend you to their dying breath.

What makes it painful, however, is when your family are none of those things. My parents don’t know me particularly well at all. They don’t accept me for who I am, despite how ‘progressive’ they think they are. Oh and no, they wouldn’t defend me against anyone. This is because I’m gay.

There.

I said it.

Shocker.

Yeah exactly – nobody reading this cares. Why would they – the target audience are college students who can read. That doesn’t really equal homophobia now, does it? My parents do care. They say they don’t. My mom might occasionally even make polite conversation inquiring about my boyfriend. Gosh, isn’t that swell.

But when Christmas day hits, the same thing happens every year. I can’t breathe. I can’t take visiting my grandmother in a nursing home, only to have her ask me about any ‘girlfriends’ for the eightieth time. I can’t tell her that there never will be any girlfriends but that I have a wonderful boyfriend. Because my parents think I’ll just “upset”  her.

When my granddad asks how college is going, I can’t talk about being chairperson of a society, because that society is LGBTQ. I can’t even mention that the cake everyone is having for our dessert was made by *insert boyfriend’s name here* for fear that my half-deaf grandfather might hear a male name, associate that with me, think I’m not straight and then – what? What would happen? We lose some inheritance? This isn’t Downton Abbey and this isn’t the 1800’s.

Most of all is the awkward terms they use. My parents have used every single term to describe my boyfriend other than the term ‘boyfriend’. He’s been called my ‘buddy’, ‘friend’ and worst of all, ‘pal’. That’s not even purely a Christmas thing but my god does it ramp up with the looming visit by my grandfather for Christmas dinner.

This is why I hate Christmas. No, I don’t think materialism is out of control – I’d probably be buying my family presents if the circumstances were different. No, I don’t hate eating a mixture of three different meats in one course – although for the sake of environmentalism, maybe we should limit that.

I hate Christmas because all I see on social media is how happy everyone is with their family. Basking in the knowledge that who they are is enough. That they will never feel like they’re pathetic or unworthy for being different. All I’ve ever wanted since I was a child was to have a family dinner where we didn’t have to sanitise every single sentence. Where most of my life isn’t censored for the sake of familial reputations. Mostly, I just wish I didn’t have to hide who I am as a person to my grandparents. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for existing. So to anyone out there who had a hard time this Christmas for these very reasons – you’re not alone.

And to anyone who stands idly by or thinks their sibling is ‘overreacting’ for feeling like this, maybe reconsider how broken your alleged Christmas spirit is.

Finally, I just want to let you know that you don’t have to sit with your family for the entire evening. You won’t always have to put up with this. And if you’re someone who feels like they can, say something. Whether it be writing an article, talking to your (grand)parents or I don’t know, wearing a rainbow flag to the table. But don’t let them wear you down. Don’t sit there, year after year like I have. Because it’s tiring. And I won’t sit through another year of lying.

And remember, if you’re feeling down, there’s TU Dublin’s Medical & Counselling Services available (not sponsored, believe it or not) and the LGBTQ Society will always accept you with open arms (okay that part is biased ~).

You’re enough and you always have been. ¡Feliz Navidad!

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