Staying in the Closet for the Holidays
Family gatherings are considered a social norm for the holiday season, but can be stressful for members of the LGBTQ community. (Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay.com)
With the holiday season around the corner, people are beginning to prepare lavish get-togethers and celebrations. This means presents, food, and of course, family–and with family comes the dreaded question of “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?”
For most, the answer can be as simple as a nod of the head or an exasperated “no.” But, LGBTQ members have a more difficult time answering this question.
Students at WCC may not know the Obergefell v. Hodges civil rights case by name, but all know the outcome. In 2015 it was ruled that the fundamental right to marry included same-sex couples. Obergefell is a landmark case, affirming the belief that love is equal, regardless of sex and/or gender identity.
LGBTQ members across America rejoiced on June 26, 2015, the fateful day of the ruling. But, if same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, why are people still afraid to come out to their families?
For most people, family is part of their identity. They’re one of the most important factors that shape someone as they grow. We love them unconditionally, and they provide all of our necessities. When someone comes out as queer, they risk all that they know.
Some people try to minimize the gravity of coming out. It may not seem like a big deal, but it changes one’s entire life. Coming out means the end to censorship and the end of constant lies, as well as hiding true thoughts and emotions.
But, when an LGBTQ member is still in the closet, it can be damaging. The censorship makes one feel trapped. It breeds guilt from all the lies and establishes an insecurity about their identity.
Over two years since Obergefell, the political climate of America is more heated than ever. The 2016 presidential election shifted politics into a more Republican majority, meaning more Americans are vocalizing their conservative values and trying to rescind previous protections for certain minority groups.
All of the efforts that the LGBTQ community has put into reaching its goal of equality is at danger. Nothing can be more heartbreaking than realizing a family member supports those who want to take away these rights.
LGBTQ members learn to silence themselves in front of their families. It may seem daunting, but patience is everything.
“Personally, the way I deal with a predicament like that is to act how you always have acted around my family,” said WCC student Jesus Ballinas. “Throughout the years, I’m sure they’re already used to the way you’ve behaved or acted. So my advice in a nutshell is to be who they expect you to be until you’re ready to tell them who you really are.”
Although LGBTQ teens may resort to censorship and lies, Ballinas’ advice holds true. Sexuality does not define someone, even though it is an important part of their life. Relatives may not agree with someone’s sexuality, but they cannot change their identity.
Even though it may seem grim to greet relatives this holiday season, keep in mind that it’s only a short span of the year. The holiday season is meant for joy and celebration—so go and celebrate!