There are two subjects that you’re supposed to avoid at all costs when it comes to family gatherings: religion and politics. LGBTQ+ issues are discussed under the umbrella of both categories, so when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with your conservative Aunt Lucy, the easiest option is not to talk about it. If you need to, go back in the closet for the holiday season; it will make your life less stressful. For some people, that is the only safe option. If you’re under circumstances where you’re likely to be harassed, abused, or kicked out if you express your identity or opinions, do not feel bad about spending the holidays with your head down. Get through the uncomfortable niceties, don’t bring up either of the taboo topics, don’t engage in conflict if the conversations arise, and stay safe. This is the first, most extreme approach to family gatherings. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it doesn’t make your identity less valid or make you a traitor to your community. Your safety is more important.
The second option is to answer any direct questions briefly and move on, keeping it a political issue and not a personal one. Don’t dwell on the subject for any longer than necessary. While uncomfortable questions are pretty much expected at every family gathering, you don’t have to let the discussion they may spark turn into all you talk about. If someone asks your thoughts on an issue pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community, state your opinion and move on. If they want to know how you feel about this election, briefly explain your perspective. However, if their questions are vague, don’t feel the need to out yourself in answering. Sidestep the questions if you can. Thanksgiving dinner isn’t necessarily the time to drop the bombshell that “No grandma, I don’t have a boyfriend. I do have a girlfriend though. Her name’s Marissa.” That sort of statement is opening yourself up to a lot of criticism and making a controversial issue very personal.
However, if you’re more daring and want to defend your community when Uncle Ron starts ranting about how he doesn’t want ‘men’ in the women’s restroom, go for it.
These issues are not always easy to talk about, and they can cause divides amongst families. Don’t let that be you this holiday season. Especially with the political tension in the air, don’t put yourself in situations that are not safe.
Be smart, be safe, happy holidays.
-Tristan D. 107
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.