The huge amount of responses I got to my last post made me wonder if queers are more likely to feel alienated from their families than straight people are. I mean, if your family doesn't respect your queerness, this is pretty self-evident. But I know a lot of queers whose family is cool with their queerness, but they still feel alienated. Why would this be?
One reason I can think of is the kid factor. Plenty of queers have kids, but on average, we're less likely to procreate than our heterosexual counterparts (partly because homo sex ≠ babies, and partly, I'm guessing, for a whole host of other social/cultural/maybe-even-biological reasons). Holidays tend to center around a traditional family structure, and also tend (for good reason) to center around kids. Sometimes we don't really fit into that.
My own family is an example of this. I have a brother (I'll call him DB for Dear Brother) who is married and has a young daughter. I love my niece dearly, and love DB and his wife as well. Partly because DB has a kid, a trend has emerged: My parents and DB's wife's parents, who live 10-12 hours' drive apart, spend Christmas together. Actually, it's more like my parents have been subsumed into DB's wife's family, since the group includes many other members of her family as well. So DB and his wife each get to be with both sets of parents every Christmas. This is convenient for them, and also great for my niece, since she gets to be with all four of her grandparents every year.
As you can probably figure out, this leaves me in a slightly weird place. Do my DGF and I drive 10-12 hours to spend Christmas with DB's wife's family? Last year, we did; we rented a car and spent some time on our own and some time with them. This year, however, they are renting a house in a remote, snowy location and spending four nights there. DGF and I were invited to come (though we were not invited to help decide where Christmas would happen). DGF and I decided we would not come along this year. Our decision was met with much sadness and consternation by my parents.
The first two years it happened, I was annoyed that my parents decided to join a new clan. But now I am at peace with it: they want to be with their grandkid, and this way they can see her every Christmas. I understand. The hard part for me is the expectation that I will always join them. My mom is upset that I am not coming this year. And while I am sad that I will not be with my parents, DB, sister-in-law, and niece, I do not wish to drive 12 hours to spend four nights with my DB's wife's family. They are nice people. But I have decided I will come along some years, and not others. This is the first year I've said no. I'm okay with my parents' choice about how to spend their Christmas, but I wish they better understood my decision to sit this one out. I'm not trying to prove or anything by not going, either. I just don't feel like going again this year.
If I had kids, things would probably be different. Either my parents would switch off between my brother and I for Christmas, or I guess I would go along so the cousins could be together. But I don't have kids, and I don't foresee having them in the near future. And so as a result, Christmas is as I've described above. And it just leaves me feeling weird and sad. Am I being selfish? Independent? Petulant? Self-actualizing? I don't know. I wish Christmas wasn't loaded with so many weird emotions.
I'm hoping that this year, the DGF and I can start some traditions of our own. Last night, we lit a candle for Hanukkah (we're not Jewish) and I gave her all of her Christmas presents. It was wonderful and unexpected and romantic. On Christmas, we're planning to spend some time with our friend M, and some time with our friends C&D (C is my butch buddy; D is her awesome wife). Maybe we'll think of some other traditions to incorporate. Will we bake cookies together? Go to church? Eat Chinese food with Jewish friends on Christmas eve? Who knows. But despite my weird guild/sadness/confusion about family stuff this year, I'm looking forward to creating some traditions that are mine and my DGF's.
How about you guys? Any sticky family situations you're avoiding? Any cool new holiday tradition ideas that you and your DGF share?
12/21/2011 04:29:06 am
I'm spending the holidays with DGF's family. They have already customized a stocking for me and her dad has gone nuts buying gifts. It's been awhile since I've had a relaxing holiday and I'm looking forward to it. Glad to be spending it with people who will make me feel comfortable and at home.
12/21/2011 04:46:04 am
My GF's family is very homophobic, and the majority of the extended family treat her like an outcast. Family holidays she gets a cold shoulder when she attends -- even more so when she brings the person shes dating with her, cuz they feel like its shoved down their throats. My GF is very butch and has never ever looked femme - so I dont know how it was a huge surprise to everyone when they found out she was gay. So most likely, I will never attend a family function with her - no holidays. I didnt go with her to Thanksgiving, nor will I go to Christmas with her this year. :/
12/21/2011 05:41:51 am
Ugh, and that must particularly suck because not only are you not welcomed, but if she spends a holiday with her family, it means that you're not spending the holiday with your significant other. I'm all about forcing the issue by bringing your significant other, because I feel like this eventually makes people see your DGF as a PERSON, not as your lesbian lover. But it's different for every family, for sure...
12/22/2011 10:18:27 am
Yes, definitely, even more so, I moved out her way (2hrs away from my hometown), for the month of November, staying with a friend of hers (well mine also), and Thanksgiving, I spent alone. I have kids from a previous marriage (married to a man - then came to my senses and realized I'm lesbian), and I wasn't able to see them at all, and my family was back on the other side of the state.
12/21/2011 09:58:18 am
I went thru this with my Ex-GF. Her family blamed me for her being gay although she was gay long before I cam into the picture. I was not Allowed to attend family funtions. They felt if I did it would look like they supported it( being gay). So I made the most out of it and enjoyed time with friends or just by myself. It actually started to be something I looked forward to. But it took time to adapt to and it bothered me for a while. Hopefully you will adjust and/or start having your own traditions together. Have a nice holiday
12/22/2011 10:22:06 am
That's pretty much how I think my GF's family thinks of it. But also, like her "gay-ness" is being shoved down their throats. They would overlook me as a person, and as someone that they would probably come to love, but my "gay-ness" is something they can't overlook, and would never be able to overlook that to really get to know me. I'm a lesbian more so than a person in their eyes. Oh well! Their loss...
12/21/2011 04:58:43 am
Family politics on the holdayz are always complicated. I'm having a year like this myself. My DB's fiance has OCD Big. They have a new baby girl who I am madly in Love with. They have a dog and I have a dog. Both large, both black, both hairy. DB's finance has said no dogs allowed for the holidays which will be celebrated at their new house 8 hours from me. My dog is like a second child for me. We vacillated back and forth and back and forth on wether to go 4 times about leaving the dog behind let alone trying to make arraignments for her with 3 different families and friends to watch her in this holiday busy season. So sad. Sucks hard. So ready for next year when I will host celebrate cook for blood and chosen family with dogs, kids, cats, fish, and the usual fullness of a home on the hoidayz which I adore.
12/21/2011 05:06:15 am
What about we singletons? We face either a Holiday alone or a Holiday of other people's kids and our family's uncomfortable questions and sympathetic looks. That's what I get to face this year. The spinster auntie....what fun.
12/21/2011 05:26:56 am
How about polyamorous, bi, divorced and the rest of us? Yes. It's a horrible time of expectations by the traditional norms. Living out here on the fringe is hard. I live with my live in BF who has kids. I opted out of spending the holidays with them so I could have some quiet time with my parents and my DGF. Everyone thinks its weird and thus Christmas is awkward. Not fun. Though everyone is nice to one another. I know my bf and his kids are hurt or just bummed we aren't doing something as a "family" and my parents think it weird that I bring my DGF with me instead.
12/21/2011 05:32:42 am
Ugh, yes... the divorce factor is so odd. I miss my DXH's extended family, and I'll probably never get to have Christmas with them again. so weird. And wow: polyamory must make Christmas *really* hard...
12/21/2011 06:14:01 am
I'm a poly butch with a wife and a gf. My wife has a gf too. We have decided to create a new family tradition by spending it all together as a group. We all get along really well and it's nice to be doing something so far outside of the traditional box. We've decided that the only thing that really matters is the family that we have decided to create together.
12/21/2011 05:30:12 am
My partner and I are celebrating our second.d Christmas together. My family is either extremely self absorbed and doing their own thing, homophobic and don't accept me, or barley able to "stop by for a few". So typically I am not a Christmas person, but my partner loves Christmas. Her only living parent died in August so there is absolutely nothing I can do to cheer her up or get her in the "spirit". I try, but she is sad and I completely understand. However, we have decided to make our own family and since her family is gone and mine are somewhere else, its her, me and our fur baby. We have our own growing family and try to make our own Christmas. Happy holidays to you all.
12/21/2011 05:30:25 am
In new zealand, i found myself and alot of my gay friends were not welcomed for christmas within our families so we all decided to start our own traditions. we start with champagne breakfasts, presents and games, the sillier the better, then a little rest and off to the nearest beach for bbqs and fun in the sun. finally weary we wend our way home to homes or smaller gatherings. that way if people want they can attend some or all parts. visis family briefly in between and have a ready excuse to leave if things are stressy. all women invited and quite a few children. Lucky its summer for us at xmas!!!
12/21/2011 05:34:03 am
Well it was great to read your blog today made me feel not so alone. My homophobic Mother said "oh please don't come home for Christmas" simply I will bring shame as the gay fat daughter, might spoil her family photo's. She suggested she come visit me at Easter lol. So I am thinking it will be me and the foxtel remote that will share Christmas together.
Im the youngest of four... As soon as my sisters and brother were all married with children, the Holidays were never the same. We struggled through several years of who is spending what day where and never all being together at the same time. However being the only SINK (single income no kids) I was always at home with my parents as my siblings split their time between families. I was always the odd man out. However my oldest sister came up with an idea... Our family started to celebrate on New Years Day. We could all be together, we took turns hosting... Yes, even me. Now everyone gets three celebrations.
12/21/2011 06:18:43 am
my first xmas with my ex was with her and hubby and his girlfreiend and kids what a crap xmas i thought from this day on ill never be any where Iam not happy so next xmas I spent alone my kids did the family thing with their dad and his family , so next xmas was the same kids spent with his family and I spent it with my sis and her mate and never felt more alone so thought bugger this , this year will be spending it with my sons and their father so ill do all the cooking heyy lol but my kids father mum is the most loving woman ever , every year i get invited for xmas but sadly have never got on with his family and now iam out they see me out they will be snobs but will talk to my kids and soon as they see me coming they bolt , so every year i get a xmas card from kids dad mum asking how iam and alway invite me up for a coffee or when we are out we always have a chat and i get a hugg just saden me I can not get this from my own mum , but this xmas omg lets see how it goes guess we are doing it for our sons and no one has a g/f so will be a nice one but def not like old times lol so what ever you all choose wish you all a merry xmas and life to short to be any thing but happy
12/21/2011 07:34:06 am
I'm just recently coming out as a lesbian and in the middle of going through a divorce. I haven't come out to most of my extended family yet (huge family) and it was hard enough to dodge questions about why my husband wasn't around for Thanksgiving. So I am working Christmas Eve and after work I will be at home by myself. This is the first time I will ever be alone on Christmas, and it might end up being kind of hard : / I'm really not ready to have to deal with all the questions from family though, and especially not on a holiday.
12/21/2011 10:15:52 am
I have been with my partner for almost 4 years and been married for 18 months of that. We have always had kids around like neices and nephews or the kids I take care of (I am a Nanny). But the last 2 years we have just decided to make it just us. I am ok with it because otherwise both our families have a bunch of drama. But its the "big people" I dont miss. The "little people" I do. I have no relationship with anyone in my family and what little family she has is in florida. I just wish we had people in our lives that didnt just come around when they needed something. It would be nice to make some real friends instead of the "sometimey" ones. Well anyway that enough of being negative. Hope everyone has a nice Holiday no matter what you call it or where your from, be happy and safe.
12/21/2011 01:25:01 pm
One of my favorite creative writing profs, years ago, always cooked Indian food for Thanksgiving. I still think of her whenever I smell coriander. New/weird/created/special traditions = every bit as awesome as the older ones!
My mother-in-law is very into counting time spent with my family and considering it a debt to her (holidays count extra). Unfortunately, my family lives on the other side of the country, so we see them for about a week, once a year or maybe a few more days if they come to see us. My MIL pouts that we don't spend a week or more with *her*, despite living just a couple hours away and seeing her more frequently. Since Christmas counts double, we spend christmas without EITHER family!
12/22/2011 02:19:49 am
M and I just moved in together after Christmas last year...so this is the first year we really had to make that decision, because until then, we just did Christmas separately. However, this year, both of us were quite adamant about being able to spend it together, because, hey, it's Christmas!
12/24/2011 06:09:38 pm
I am definitely dealing with this same issue this year. I am so grateful for you sharing your experience. I felt like I was being selfish. Ungrateful. Loathsome. My situation is a little bit different. I have always been very close with my sister and twin brother. I work in retail so holidays are always a little bit difficult to find time. But this year the two of them got together at my sister's house. She has kids. Neither one of them asked me about plans, or even considered that I'd like to try to take part despite my schedule. When I confronted my sister about it, she said "you had to work, what was I supposed to do." The reality is that I wasn't asked at all and no one asked what my work schedule was or even if there was something we could work out so I could spend some time with my niece and nephew. She told me I was being paranoid and that it was easiest for me to come to her house because she had several families she had to coordinate with. Here I am home alone on Christmas eve feeling a bit sad. I am glad I get to spend Christmas day with my boyfriend, but I can't help but feel like I've been pushed to the back of the line because I don't really represent any important part of the family. I'm just the gay brother. I don't have kids. Family visits are regularly at her house, and my mother even scheduled a family reunion in her town in the upcoming year despite the lack of accommodations and me telling her the metropolis I live in 30 miles away would be far more accommodating for a family reunion. I guess I'm a bit upset. No one visits me. No one really acknowledges my partner. And certainly getting acknowledged around the holidays just doesn't happen. What to do but make my own traditions with my boyfriend.
12/28/2011 02:56:30 pm
As this is my mom's last christmas most likely (she is killing herself hard with cigs and alcohol and gets hospitalized about every 2-3 weeks lately), I felt bad and wanted to make an early dinner for her even though she wasn't invited (nor told about) the dinner at my sisters where we were going to be with friends later in the evening. It's too hard to invite her because she keeps smoking every ten minutes and has to be helped in and out of the house to do so, and also she complains constantly and she can't stop fat-bashing, everything is "big fat this" and "big fat that," and that's before you add alcohol. She knows I am gay, she's met my GF as well as the 3 GFs before her over the last 10yrs or so. She acts like she's ok with it. So I had her over to my house where my GF and I made the foods that she likes but that no one else particularly cares for (she is very picky). I asked her how she liked it and she literally went "MEH" even though she doesn't know that's a meme now. She just went MEH and said the food wasn't very good, and said she was disappointed that nobody else in the family was coming by (they'd all made their excuses, and I was partly doing this Mom-feed as a service to THEM so they could get out of it). Well, later in the week she gets together with my sister, and she spends the whole time with her complaining about how my food was no good and how she hated hanging out with just the homosexuals, and that we were just pawing each other and making her uncomfortable. This isn't even true; we sat on the couch together for a few minutes, is all, when we weren't running around making food for her or refilling her stupid glass of beer. I thought we were pretty nice to accomodate her but apparently it wasn't enough for her. I'm glad the holiday is over and I'm glad I had other gatherings that day without my mom, and that they were pleasant. Some people are just incapable of being good or of appreciating the people that they do have in their life, when, by their own actions, they deserve nobody. Thanks for giving me this place to vent. I really dig your blog and it always speaks to me (well, except for the fashion parts -- I'm an unabashed slob)
12/25/2013 05:02:46 pm
So glad I'm not alone in things being so ackward!! I just got back from the most ackward dinner ever!! :C I havnt gone to a family deal for years, partly because I was dreading it. Some of my family know I'm gay but the rest dont, and im pretty much forbidden to come out because of their views on it. My sister brought her fiancee who also knows and thinks its hilarious to threaten to tell everyone if I don't do what he says. So I get to sit as silent as possible while half of them laugh and make stupid jokes while I sweat and hope that it doesn't come out and be a big fight about shaming the family.. In some ways it would be nice, but I'd never see my grandparents or uncles family again. They would instantly hate me. Its nice to see them but its draining trying to be careful what I say and and do. Don't want to offend anyone or be insulted by the comments... After all "if your going to be gay then ur just going to have to get used to it" Uuugh! I can't imagine having to put the gf thru that! Most likely going to be a while before I make a trip out again. I shall also be trying something new next year! I hope u all have awesome holidays and a wonderful new year!! Cheers!
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