Homophobia over the holidays

Treatment of LGBTQ+ family members this season has paramount importance

Olivia Torrez, Staff Writer

Fire crackles in hearths and eggnog flows to the sound of laughter in the kitchen, but there’s someone missing from the holiday celebrations. In a back room, a member of the LGBTQ+ community is  pacing, hoping not to be made the spectacle of this holiday season just for existing.

Every holiday season, many LGBTQ+ members have to smile and push through, as their family and friends make rude jokes at their expense. Their silence is trying not to fan the flames of an argument, but it’s only blowing on a bigger fire: homophobia and the fear it brings everyday to people of this community.

People shouldn’t dread the holidays, or going to a family members’ house for fear of being ridiculed or picked apart question by question. Holidays should be a time of togetherness, but internalized homophobia, taking biases and prejudices against LBBTQ+ members and reflecting that inwards, can exist in anyone.

A student who wished to remain anonymous said, “It feels like everyone is expecting something from you that you can’t give. It’s a lot of people who don’t particularly care, but still pry as if they have the right to know.”

Members of the community have described it as being trapped behind glass. Being almost a part of the conversation, being there, but no one sees or listens. The stress builds up and leads them to getting trapped inside their own head until they need to take a mental break in a backroom or upstairs.

According to a study from the American Psychological Association, it’s hypothesized that being around a ‘non affirming’ or non-accepting setting, will lead to higher rates of internalized homophobia, depressive symptoms, and a general lack of psychological well-being. This is especially found in non affirming religious exposure.

In an article published in December 2013, researchers found that youth homophobic victimization isn’t just short term. The effects of anxiety specifically lasted the entire academic school year, longer than the seven month study looking at mental health was being held.

Somebody has to give. The people who’ve been murdered for who they are shouldn’t have to fight their own family for the rights to be them (yet Stonewall was a riot). 

Family members who’ve had internalized homophobia for years, even if they claim they don’t, need to figure out how to be more accepting. Put the effort in. Get out of the heteronormative bubble and try to step into some else’s Doc Martens.

It starts with respect. That’s all anyone ever asks for and deserves in a basic relationship. Reevaluating personal biases is important. Did something happen that caused the internalized homophobia? Knowledge causes growth.

As sportscaster Dale Hansen said in 2017 about a transgender wrestler, “I don’t understand his world. But I do understand he’s a part of mine.” 

There are struggles someone outside of the community simply doesn’t understand. They don’t need understanding, they need support.

There is already stress involved for everyone during the holidays. Late packages,  pets getting into trash cans and cookies, spilled hot cocoa and young cousins crying comes with the normal holiday dread, but hopefully, a LGBTQ+ community member doesn’t have to add ‘homoophic family’ to that list.