Email Mike

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 47 | November 27–december 3, 2003

EMAIL MIKE

Talk Turkey

Subject: Another Homo for the holidays

I’m flying home for Thanksgiving weekend, back up to Michigan. I think it was last year when you said that the holidays are definitely not a good time to talk to family about being gay or lesbian. You said that it is a stressful time and that it will only make your family think you’re determined to mess things up or something like that. With all of the stories in the news about gay marriage, it’s going to be hard not to talk about it. I’m sure they will bring it up and all throw out opinions. There are 23 people coming for dinner to my parents’ home. I told my parents I am a lesbian a year and half ago. They were not exactly ecstatic, but have come a long way. Everyone in the family knows about me now but it is a subject we stay quiet about. What should I do if they bring up the gay marriage topic?

Re: Another homo for the holidays

Here’s what you do: Talk about it, talk about it and talk more about it!

I wrote last year, in response to someone who wanted to come out to parents, that holidays are not a time to be coming out of the closet, since it will only seem that you’re being selfish and intent on ruining a day that’s more tightly-packed with pressure than a 25-pound stuffed turkey. I did note that, if you’re going home for the entire weekend, the day after Thanksgiving or some other time during the weekend might be okay, but that in general it’s best to steer clear of holidays.

But I never uttered a word about not discussing gay issues once you are out! In fact, once out, you have to keep the discussion going, or else the family may act as if you never came out, so determined will they often be to put the genie back in the bottle.

You came out a year and a half ago, so there’s no reason for you to put a lid on your life at the holidays. They’ve come “a long way,” you say, so you need to take them further still. That all of you “stay quiet” about it is precisely the reason why you need to bring it up. And actually, the same-sex marriage issue provides you with a perfect way to talk about your being gay and about gay relationships, gay politics and legal issues without it seeming gratuitous and forced, since these issues are so much in the news.

Not only that, right now it’s vital that we all talk about the issue around the holiday table, with family and friends—people who will be voting and whom some politicians will try to exploit with fear-mongering messages. The more we all can do to educate family and friends on the issues—explaining that this is about equality and fairness and not hijacking some religious rite—the more the right-wing won’t be able to use this issue. On its web site, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (ngltf.org) advises that we all need to “talk turkey” this weekend.

“The next few weeks are a critical moment in the struggle for full equality,” the group states in a joint statement along with several other groups fighting for same-sex marriage. “Over the Thanksgiving holiday, summon up the courage to reach out to your family and friends and ask for their help. Let each one of them know what’s going on and the way in which our lives are being distorted for political gain.”

It sounds kind of hokey, but if every one of us actually connected with and convinced three relatives––people who trust us and love us––we’d do a lot more than any slick ad campaign. And it’s still in the spirit of the holiday––reaching out and connecting with people on issues important to your life.

Subject: I can’t take this crap!

I don’t like my family, don’t&Mac226; get along with them. Can’t stand them and they can’t stand me. I feel like I have to visit but it doesn’t work. It’s not the queer thing so much, though they don’t like it. It’s really that I have nothing in common with them. I’m 21, at college. I want to stay with friends in the city who are having Thanksgiving. Is that wrong? (And if I am a monster tell me!)

Re: I can’t take this crap.

I don’t know enough about you, honestly, to know if you’re a monster or not, but to answer your question, it’s not wrong to want to be with friends rather than your family. Everybody’s got to do what’s right at different times in their lives. Sometimes you have to break away for the holidays, experience the freedom and be on your own, with your family of choice.

Though you say you can’t stand your family, I’m not sure that’s true––or if you’re just pissed at them at the moment, or whatever––nor am I sure you won’t be spending future holidays with them. Even though you say they “don’t like” your being gay, that will likely change too over time and I think you’ll find you do have more in common with them. I guess some might say you’re running away––and I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to resolve things with them––but like I said, we all need to be on our own once in a while. There’s always next year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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