Are you thinking of coming out this Holiday? Going to ring in a gay New Year? Whether it’s Hanukah, Christmas, Ramadan, Winter Solstice, or Boxing Day, coming out over a “big” family holiday is a popular time for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender college students. And why not?
College students usually go home for the holidays and what better time than Christmas dinner with the family to say “Pass the cranberry stuffing and turkey, please. Oh, and by the way, I’m gay.” Kind of a “ho-ho-ho, I’m homosexual” sort of thing?
Ahhh, maybe not…
Now, I myself can’t anticipate what it might be like for some of my queer brethren to attempt such a feat. As it is, my mother was the one who told me I was gay. (Imagine my surprise!) So for the past few years, I’ve been slowly parading a steady stream of girlfriends through my mother’s living room for the obligatory prom and homecoming pictures. I was quite secure in my place as the family lesbian and answered my younger cousins questions congenially when they inquired as to my orientation. I know that my family will never make my partner feel unwelcome, or refer to them simply as a “friend” or “roommate”
So what am I complaining about?
Well, I am approaching this yuletide season with trepidation as off to grandmother’s house I go, with none other than…. A MAN.
It is only recently that I discovered the other, more hidden half of my orientation, and frankly, I’m not quite sure how to handle it. I don’t want to confuse my family, or make them think that all along I was simply playing a joke on them but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of established etiquette for this sort of thing.
There is a nagging fear that my recent discovery might set back my forward-thinking family. Who hasn’t heard of parents or friends treating a queer person’s dating past as gospel, “evidence” that their same-sex attractions must be trivial or temporary, ”just a phase,” something they can grow out of if they try hard enough?
Not only must I worry about my family’s reaction, but that of my partner. How can I explain to him that my grandmother is expecting a Jacqueline instead of a Jack? That’s one conversation that I certainly never wanted (nor expected) to have.
Where’s Emily Post when you need her?
Originally written by me for Michigan State University’s (now defunct) Q*News, December 2005 Edition.