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Friday, December 19, 2008

Tips for staying sane when going home for the holidays

As a lesbian, going home for the holidays, especially with your girlfriend, can be quite stressful. However, Kathy Belge, from, has come up with a few tips for making it through this holiday season with minimal conflict.

Know your Family
If your parents have had a hard time accepting you for who you are, don’t expect things to be magically different at the holidays. Be sensitive to your parent’s position, but don’t do anything that truly compromises your own beliefs. Expect to be treated with respect, but don’t demand that they share all your beliefs. Choose your battles.

Get Support
Do you have an ally within your family? Talk to him or her in advance and let them know you might need a little extra support this visit. If there’s something specific you want them to do (interrupt homophobic jokes, keep Uncle Ted away from you) ask that too.

Plan Ahead
Are you bringing a partner home? Make sure your parents know she is coming. Don’t wait until you arrive at their house to discuss sleeping arrangements. Phone ahead and while you’re asking what you can bring to help with dinner or other celebrations, ask about sleeping arrangements. It may save you and your parents (not to mention your partner) from a fight. If things are too uncomfortable, consider staying in a hotel or with another friend or relative.

Set Realistic Expectations
What do you want out of this visit? Do you want to open up and share more of your life with your family, or do you just want to get through the visit without a major fight? If your goal is to make Aunt Mary see once and for all that gay marriage is a god-given right, maybe that’s not going to happen. Maybe a more realistic goal is to model for Aunt Mary that gays and lesbians have partners and families that they love and care about just as heterosexuals do.

Stay Connected to Your Friends
Have a supportive friend you can call if things get hard. Visit a local gay or lesbian bar, bookstore or community center.

It’s amazing how much miscommunication can happen with the people who raised us. Many of the problems with our families come from lack of communication. Try to be as clear as you can without getting emotional. Ask for clarification before you launch into a tirade. If someone has an opposing viewpoint and you don’t think you can talk about it without bursting into tears, politely excuse yourself and call on one of your support people.

Take Care of Yourself
Don’t over eat or drink too much. Walk around the block, get some fresh air from time to time. Offer to run to the store to get some time alone or plan to do something special with a family member you particularly enjoy spending time with.

The visit with your family won't last forever. Try to stay in the present and enjoy yourself. Remember that soon it will be over and you'll be on your way back to your own home.

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