“I can’t wait to spend the holidays with you,” I said as I looked into my girlfriend’s caramel brown eyes.
Her hands started to get all warm and clammy and she quickly lost her grip. With her eyes jolting back and forth, I knew something was wrong.
“Listen, the truth is that my parents aren’t necessarily supportive of our relationship. As far as they know, we’re just friends.”
This was not the holiday present I was expecting from my girlfriend of two months. She lied to me. I wasn’t mad that she didn’t come out, but I was angry that she lied to me about something this big. Not only did this take me by surprise, but I came to the unfortunate realization that holidays for members of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t always jolly and full of cheer, but full of stress and anxiety.
To prepare for the holidays with my girlfriend’s family, I decided to watch Hulu’s latest holiday rom com, Happiest Season, starring Kristen Stewart (Abby), Mackenzie Davis (Harper) and Dan Levy (John). The movie takes viewers through what the holidays look like for members of the LGBTQ+ community who aren’t out to their family and are forced to live a lie for the sake of family reputation.
My girlfriend’s mom is extremely concerned with reputation. She couldn’t fathom the idea of her daughter being gay. Not that being gay was inherently bad, but having an openly gay daughter would be representative of her “poor parenting” and diminish her family’s reputation in their small town.
Regardless of our situation, my girlfriend is the best gift I could ask for this holiday season.
My girlfriend told me that her mother would not tell anyone her daughter has a partner. I couldn’t help but feel like I would be the person disturbing the peace in the family this Christmas, but Happiest Season gave me some hope.
In the film, Abby and Harper had to keep their relationship a secret around Harper’s conservative family, who she wasn’t out to. While Abby knew that Harper loved her, it didn’t take away the pain that she felt when her girlfriend constantly referred to her as a “roommate.” However, there was a point where Harper proclaimed to Abby how much she loved her, and that not coming out to her family was not personal, but a matter of her own insecurities. This point was further emphasized by John, Abby’s best friend, when he said to her, “Harper coming out to her parents has nothing to do with you.”
I realized that, if anything, I should be there to support my girlfriend even more during this time since she doesn’t have the support she needs. I’m very fortunate to have grown up in a household where I could be my authentic self without fear of judgment, and that is an opportunity she may never get to experience.
Just because my girlfriend’s family may not be open to our relationship doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it ourselves.
The importance of social support also came to the forefront after I watched Happiest Season. The last thing I want to do is burden my girlfriend with complaints about her family. While you may not want to bother your friends during the “happiest time of year,” that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Friends are there to provide support during the most difficult of times, and for many members of the LGBTQ+ community, the holidays are tough.
Since John was so eager to support Abby during this time, it made me realize that my friends would actually want to be there for me through the ups and downs. Asking for help and social support isn’t a sign of weakness, but it is one of strength. I decided to set up bi-weekly phone calls with my best friend to check in and stay grounded during these chaotic times, and that’s definitely not something I would have done if I hadn’t been exposed to Abby and John’s friendship.
Just because my girlfriend’s family may not be open to our relationship doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it ourselves. Regardless of our situation, my girlfriend is the best gift I could ask for this holiday season. To have someone by my side who loves, cares and supports me is a blessing. Even if you can’t celebrate with your blood relatives, surround yourself with people who unconditionally love and care about you. They are out there, even if it takes a little time to find them.
The holidays may not be the happiest season for everyone, but there are little pockets of joy you can find whether, it’s just spending time with your significant other or giving the gift of friendship to someone who needs it.
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