By: Mikey Rox*/Special to TRT—
Holiday time may seem like an ideal opportunity to come out to your family—everybody’s in one place at one time and there’s less chance for an individual meltdown in a large group setting—but there are many other variables that should be considered. Coming out isn’t just about you, after all. Your friends and family—because they care about you—are emotionally invested in this matter too, and it’s important to keep that in mind when deciding when to come out. For that reason—and nine others—unloading your burden around the holiday table isn’t the best idea you’ll ever have.
- The Focus Should Be on Togetherness, Not Divisiveness
Even if you think your parents will take the revelation that you’re LGBT in stride and process it responsibly, you can never really be sure how someone else will react. And it’s not just your parents to whom you’re coming out on a holiday; you’ve got a whole house full of people – siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents—who will be part of this event. How will they handle it? How will their reaction affect others’? You can’t be sure, which is why, at least for the day that you’re spending in celebration together, you should keep the secret under wraps. The varied reaction to your news could pit family member against family member, and that’s no way to end an otherwise pleasant gathering. [pullquote]Your friends and family—because they care about you—are emotionally invested in this matter too, and it’s important to keep that in mind when deciding when to come out.[/pullquote]
- It Can Be Very Awkward for Extended Family and Other Guests
While many people present at holiday time will have an emotional involvement in your coming out, not everyone around will be family. Some guests may be friends or neighbors or just acquaintances who have been invited to share in the joint holiday experience. For these folks, your coming out could turn what was supposed to be a benign and jovial occasion into an awkward situation that they can’t escape from fast enough. Keep in mind, too, that if these aren’t your guests, they’re somebody else’s, and you run the risk of embarrassing that person due to your ill-timed and disrespectful disclosure.
- You May Not Have Anywhere Else to Go If It Doesn’t Turn Out Well
It’s every LGBT person’s worst fear that those who are supposed to love you unconditionally simply do not. Thus, as a result of coming out on a holiday, you could be asked to leave the house—which could put you in a bind if the house in which you’re staying is your only accommodations for this period of time. College students, in particular, should be mindful of this consequence to avoid being shut out in the cold weather typically associated with the Thanksgiving to New Year span.
- Your Usually Supportive Social Circle Is Otherwise Engaged
You’ll want to talk about what happened when you came out to your family to those who know you best—your friends—but they’ll be celebrating the holidays with their own families and may not be available. This isn’t the end of the world if your coming out went smoothly, but if it didn’t go over so well and you need a shoulder to cry on or a supportive ear that will listen, you could be out of luck. This is a potentially dangerous situation, especially if you start feeling like nobody loves you and you have nowhere else to turn. This is not the truth, of course – although it may feel like it at the time—but it can lead to harmful behaviors that can be avoided at a time when you know someone will be there for you.
- It May Be Offensive to Others Celebrating a Holy Day
You may not be religious, but others are—and for those people, a religious holiday is a very important and sacred time in their lives. Notwithstanding what most religions already say about homosexuality (you already have a good idea where this discussion is headed before you even start it), it’s just not good form to actively pursue a controversial conversation when the people you love are recognizing a holy day. Be considerate and wait until the day of observation has passed.
- There’s Not Enough Time to Have a Serious Discussion
When you come out—no matter the outcome—the people in whom you’ve just confided will generally want to discuss the matter further. Just like it’s not appropriate for them to monopolize the conversation when you have it, it’s also not appropriate for you to come out at a time that you know is not conducive to discussion just so you can avoid it.
- It’s Selfish to Turn Family Time Into the ‘Me Show’
Your family members didn’t travel far and wide to celebrate the holidays dealing with the aftermath of your coming out. Your decision is personal and serious and special even, and it should be handled as such. If you’d like them to respect you as an LGBT person, you should respect them as people who just want to stuff their faces with turkey and watch a few football games without a live episode of Dr. Phil taking place in the living room.
- It’s Not Fair to Drop a Bomb and Leave Soon After
Just like you shouldn’t bring up the subject when you know there isn’t ample time to discuss your sexuality, you shouldn’t come out and leave shortly after. This is a cowardly way of dealing with this issue that will not go away and could become worse if you treat other people poorly during the process. You should be present and available and open when you come out, and if you’re in a hurry—like many of us are on holidays—it isn’t the right moment.
- It’s an Already High-Stress Time of Year
The holidays wear us all a little thin, which increases our stress level and heightens our agitation. Do you really want to come out to someone who’s already annoyed that the guests were late, the ham is dry and nobody offered to wash the dishes after the meal? Not unless you have a death wish, you don’t. Do yourself a favor and wait for a time when those to whom you’re about to come out are relaxed and in a good place to have a reasonable and rational conversation and give you their undivided attention. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble that you can potentially avoid, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t.
*Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He lives in Manhattan with his husband and their cuddle-buddy furbaby. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.