Five Ways to Survive Ho-Ho-Homophobia During Family Christmas


It will come as no surprise to many AfterEllen readers that the festive period isn’t always a joyful time for lesbians. At Family Christmas, it might feel like the waistband of your pants and your racist uncle are having a competition to see which one can make you feel more uncomfortable. And not all of us are in a position to avoid it. Many of us – especially young lesbians – don’t have any alternative.

Lesbian lives don’t always meet the conventional (i.e. heterosexual) markers of success. Obviously, you’re not going to walk in with a boyfriend or husband in tow. A girlfriend or wife might not be met with the same enthusiasm. And lesbian families are built in so many ways – often defying the nuclear structure girls are taught to aspire to. There are also too many lesbians who aren’t safe to come out to their families.

When you don’t fit in, it can be hard making it through. So here are some tried and tested methods for getting to the other side of family Christmas.


Promise yourself something for getting through Family Christmas. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. You could pencil in a trip to the swimming pool or block off time to binge Good Omens. You could reserve some lesfic at your local library or, if you’re feeling flush, order it from your wishlist. You could even go wild and get yourself chocolate or a relaxing bubble bath – after all, Christmas is a time for giving. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something nice for yourself.

Let the thought of this present to yourself fill your mind, eclipsing all the emotional baggage you’ll be bringing home along with a Tupperware full of leftovers.

homophobia during christmas

Narrate Inside Your Head

This tactic is a personal favorite. Narrate family Christmas like it’s a David Attenborough documentary. Make thrilling observations about individual behavior, the group dynamic. Pretend it’s your very own Netflix nature special. Keeping up the flow of this internal monologue will keep you amused – especially if things go south. Think of it as an expedition to collect a whole lot of material for your next round of therapy sessions.


Turn your trauma into a drinking game. Take a sip every time there’s homophobia. And another when anything sexist happens (i.e. the womenfolk do the cooking and cleaning while the men chortle and drink scotch). Drain your glass if there are any racial slurs over Christmas dinner. Or don’t – nobody wants to spend Christmas having their stomach pumped. Please drink responsibly.


It’s possible that your stitches might get a little wonky as the celebrations go on, but whatever gets you through family Christmas will do. Small knitting projects like socks are easy to transport, with the added advantage of keeping you occupied for hours and hours.

Knitting is a great strategy for three reasons. The first is that it keeps your hands busy – a steady, repetitive motion that will carry you through all kinds of awkward situations. The second is that, after some initial curiosity, people will mostly just leave you alone to knit. The third and best reason: you’ll have something cozy to wrap yourself up in when you’re finally ready to cast off. And what could be more on-trend for Christmas?

Call a Helpline

And if you’re really struggling, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. In the USA you can phone the GLBT helpline. In the UK, there’s the LGBT Helpline. And Switchboard LGBT is open internationally. Stay safe this Christmas.