You recently came out to your family and you would like your new partner to be part of the celebration, but you’re not sure how the family will react. This year, how will you enjoy the holiday with your family and your partner? Gay and lesbian couples sometimes face difficulties managing holiday get-togethers. Family roles, defining of relationships and perhaps unclear boundaries sometimes hinder the process along the way.
Something to keep in mind: You already came out – but you may have to do it a few times.
View the coming out process as that, a process. Family members may initially have a hard time accepting your sexuality. Repeating it to them a few times may help them realize that you are serious. They might make comments that minimize what you are saying or use humor to make light of the situation. Stand your ground – your identity is important to you and your partner. While it may be frustrating to continue repeating yourself to loved ones, keep in mind that they care for you and they are trying to integrate your ‘new identity’ and new partnership into their image of you.
Try to view the process as a positive one. While the overall process might be frustrating and stressful, take notice of each small accomplishment. Your aunt or uncle that originally was totally against the idea of you being a lesbian is now calling you about your girlfriend. This is a good thing! Your partner is being recognized by a family member as part of your life.
Resources in the community can offer insight into the coming out process and educating family members. One organization that offers valuable information is Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays or PFLAG. They suggest viewing the judgments you might face from family members as their issues not yours. Make a conscious effort to avoid personalizing their judgments. For more information, find a Miami PFLAG chapter.
Have you or a family member come out during the holidays? How were you treated? How did you include your partner in the holiday celebrations?
Belky is a Licensed Psychotherapist specializing inrelationship issues and practicing in Coral Gables, Florida – find more resources in her virtual office, receive free tips and mental health information through her e-newsletter, or connect with her on Twitter & Facebook.