Bren: Hey Maddie – Merry Holiday Of Your Personal Choosing!
Maddie: Hi Bren! Happy season of replacing natural life-giving daylight with lots and lots of candles and warm beverages and loved-ones-togetherness for those of us residing in the Northern Hemisphere!
Bren: Yes, just as our Founding Fathers would have called it.
I gotta confess something: I really fucking love this time of year.
Also, I’m an atheist.
Maddie: NOT WEIRD!
I identify with a wholly non-traditionally eclectic pastiche of THINGS THAT STAVE OFF SEASONAL DEPRESSION WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE RELIGIOUS ROOTS when it comes to winter holidays, so.
Bren: Good plan! I like presents and baked goods and pretty lights and claymation reindeer.
Maddie: It has less to do with my religious beliefs than my non-traditional/eclectic family and upbringing and my fragile brain chemistry, for me.
These are wonderful things, Bren.
Bren: Hey, speaking of families and upbringings and such, there is one part of the holidays that is très stressful: going “home.”
I say “home” because I really mean “where you grew up/where your family resides,” not “where you reside, hopefully very far away in a queer-friendly urban setting.”
Even the merriest queermos among us can only stomach so many arguments with our parents about hairstyles and clothes and “lifestyles,” ya know?
Maddie: I do know.
Or… I know, in the sense that I certainly have felt that terrible, soul-squelching moment of deflation when going from a supportive, affirming, queer-positive stew of chosen family to a hostile or misunderstanding environment.
Bren: (Mmm, stew.)
Maddie: I am lucky, myself, to have a supportive family that may ask some awkward questions whenever I decide to plop matters of queer sexuality down on the dinner table, but are generally as loving as I could ever hope for.
Bren: That is very lucky indeed! Hooray for your fam!
Was it always like this? I mean, what about before you came out?
Were you ever afraid of saying the “wrong thing”?
Maddie: Well, that’s probably just it: no, not really. I didn’t feel like I would be scolded for being my authentic self. I should clarify that my family bickers and accuses and misunderstands and falters in the support-giving and all that fun stuff, but there’s a pretty strong philosophy of accepting self and accepting others underneath it all.
Bren: That’s seriously awesome, yo.
See, for me, pre-coming out meant extremely unhappy trips home.
I was going from college in Boston, where I was able to be my free, dykey self, back to East Bumfuck, where I had to shove myself forcibly back into the closet.
It was painful. I was always miserable, always bickering with my parents about stupid petty crap, because I couldn’t be real about what was actually up.
It really killed holidays for me.
Now that I’m out, well, there’s still a lot of fighting, but at least it’s honest fighting, ya know? Shit is out there, which makes it easier to handle.
Maddie: Absolutely. Even though re-closeting wasn’t a big thing for me visiting home, I am definitely my most callous, petty, argumentative, sullen self when someone close to me is pushing me on a topic that I’m just not ready to talk about.
Bren: Right. So, I worry for all the babygays who aren’t out to their families and are going home for winter break.
I worry about their emotional states. I’m turning into a Mother Hen-Butch, I think.
Maddie: Well that is adorable.
Bren: Aww, shucks.
Maddie: I love that as a community we really try to take care of our own.
Bren: Somebody has to take care of us, and, well, it might as well be us.
What would you say to a babygay who’s facing a holiday like that? Any elder-queer words of advice?
Maddie: Brand-new fluttery little wings are oh-so-tender, and having to stuff them back down under something just when they’re starting to grow and stretch… well, it hurts!
If you are going back for an extended period of time, like winter break from college, keep in touch with your queer community.
This can be harder than it sounds, because people get so busy during the holidays and might be online or by their phones less than while at school.
So, I would suggest being up front about it from the start: see if one of your friends can make a pact with you to be in touch a couple of times a week. Just so you maintain a life-line with someone who reaffirms the fundamental rightness of who you are.
Bren: That’s a goddamn beautiful idea. I love it. A Queer Buddy Program.
Along those lines, I would highly suggest staying active on social networks during break, ESPECIALLY Twitter. No, I’m not getting paid to say this, BTW. But for real, Twitter has such an incredible, supportive, vibrant queer community.
I’ve made so many friends/contacts/indispensable connections on there.
And the best part of Twitter is that there’s ALWAYS somebody on to talk to.
Queer Twitterers never sleep, it seems.
Maddie: OH AND THE BLOGS. Don’t forget the blogs.
Bren: OH RIGHT, BLOGS.
Maddie: Wait, I said that even before thinking about how this is going to appear on a blog.
Bren: *Cough* Hrm.
Maddie: I don’t JUST mean BC&B, although, naturally, we love seeing your bright, shining avatars around here.
Bren: WE SURE DO.
Maddie: But web reading takes up such an enormous portion of any given day of mine that I have to count even the words of people I haven’t corresponded one-on-one with as a part of the queer community that defines me.
Really, one of the best things I can do to punch “reset” after getting all heart-poundy and blood-pressurey from some hostile little microaggression in daily life is to run on over to my favorite web writers and start breathing again.
It’s like going from a long shift in a refrigerated warehouse with mean coworkers right into a nice warm bath of identity-affirming, feminist awesome.
Bren: That would be a great commercial for spa treatments.
I agree, by the way. My blogs (not just this one) are a hugely important part of my day.
They ground me in the knowledge that I’m not alone and that are many others out there that share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Which is critical to remember when one is trapped in Heteronormland.
Maddie: THE UNHAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.
Bren: Aaaaand, let us not forget those other vessels for queer reaffirmation.
Um, the paper things. With words. Kinda rectangular?
Kids, don’t forget books.
You can read e-books, if they’re less intimidating.
But check out authors like Ivan E. Coyote, S. Bear Bergman, Kate Bornstein, Joan Nestle, etc.
Carrying these narratives, poems, lives around with you can give you strength.
Maddie: Yes absolutely yes!
They’re handy in stuck-at-home-with-family situations because they’re portable and hide-able and bookmark-able and it can just be easier to go running off to your room to read a poem or two when you just need a pause in the norms-pushing.
Bren: Indeed! And, if your parents grill you, tell them it’s required reading for one of your spring classes or something.
Little white lies are sometimes necessary.
Bren: Most of all, remember: This too shall pass. You’ll be back among your homo-hippie-socialist-college commune before you know it.
And if all else fails, spike the eggnog.
Maddie: I actually think that’s a very important point—you can’t change other people to suit your needs, but you can’t ditch family as freely as you can ditch other stress-producing people in your life. So it’s easy to feel stuck. But the great thing about moving into adulthood is building new family.
You have probably already begun that process, and even though being back at home might make you feel like you’ve lost all your progress, you haven’t.
You will pick it back up.
Bren: Yes! Coming out is a process and, like any process, there are some steps that are leapt and others that are tip-toed. But only you can decide if any of those steps go backwards.
And remember: There is no shame is taking your time. Just because you’re out to your entire dorm, that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to be out to your entire bio family. You decide the timeline for your own journey, and don’t let anybody shame you for not being loud and proud in every area of your life.
You’ll get there when you get there, and then you can look forward to a whole new host of arguments over Christmas dinner, like “when are you and [girlfriend/partner/etc.] giving us grandkids?” or some nonsense.
Maddie: Or you can look forward to the day that you get to choose if you go back at all, and for how long.
Bren: That too! All in all, choice shall be yours!
Until then, watch Home Alone on repeat and drool over how hot Brittany and Santana look in their Glee Christmas outfits.
(Or maybe that’s just my method.)
Maddie: Or light a lot of candles and stare into the flames until you regain a sense of peace and warmth and faith that sunlight will return eventually.
Bren: That too. Or you could donate all your extra heat lamps to Maddie, who clearly needs them.
Maddie: I keep meaning to throw a sunlamp party, but the instructions say to only use them in the morning, so it might have to be a fabulous boozy mid-winter brunch or something.
Bren: That sounds awesome. Guys, let’s make “fabulous boozy mid-winter queer brunches” a thing, OK?
Maddie: ON. IT.
Bren: On that note, I hope you all have a safe, happy, and queer-reaffirming holidays, dearest readers!
And if you need someone to talk to, hit up the @buzzcutbustier Twitter account. I check my phone obsessively and will see your Tweet.
Maddie: Stay safe and warm, beloved queerlings!
Bren: Hey Maddie – Merry Holiday Of Your Personal Choosing!