by Vianca Masucci
For many queer folk, myself included, the holiday season brings more stress than joy. For many, this is also the season of family obligation. Loved ones can already be a sore spot which stings even more once you drag bae into the mix. Even so, you might still want bae to meet the fam. Maybe bae is an amazing person with whom you want to share all aspects of your life, or maybe your Auntie makes some *bomb* sweet potato pie that needs to be shared.
Whether it’s for love or pie (is there a difference?), there’s a lot of anxiety associated with bringing bae home for the holidays. No worries QTs, I’m here to fill you in on what to expect if you bring bae home for the holidays!
1. More queird-ness than usual:
Even if you’ve been out to your loved ones for a while, sometimes meeting a person who you shake the sheets with forces the fam to face the fact that you are really queer. This may be shocking to your folks, especially to your doubting uncle who’s still praying that you’ll ‘be saved.’ Bringing your family into direct contact with your sexuality might make things weirder than usual. This is normal. Coming out is a triathlon, not a sprint; when you bring bae home it’s just another stage of the race.
Prepare yourself for awkward pauses in conversation, your family introducing bae as ‘uh..uhm..your friend’ to guests and ignorant questions that will follow. As much as you can, push back against the stuff that is problematic. Channel your inner zen and just let the awkwardness be awkward.
2. Time for bae to meet you as ‘Nae Nae’:
Being around our families and other established loved ones makes us regress to the stage of our development when we were called by that childhood nickname that’s just a single repeated syllable. Bae is going to see this side of you.
This experience will widen their perception of who you are, for better or for worse. This is an intimate milestone in your relationship, so savor it. Matter fact, go ahead and embrace it! Take it as an opportunity to invite bae to experience more versions of yourself and it might just help them to better understand where you come from.
3. You will be bae’s advocate:
When you’re in a space dominated by your loved ones, regardless of the relationships that you have with them, you own that space a lot more than bae does. As the person who invited bae into the space you have a lot more power in the space. It is your responsibility to make them feel comfortable by facilitating social interaction between them and your family. As weird as it is for you, it’s Madonna-kissing-Drake times weirder for them. Be a gracious host! Do not allow anyone to disrespect or ignore bae and don’t let them feel out of place.
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4. Embarrassment will be unavoidable:
Your loved ones are a deeply intimate part of your identity but you have no control over them and the impressions they’ll make on bae. Something embarrassing and/or embarrassingly problematic will happen and will make you want to disappear like BLACKstreet after 1999. Just remember, your loved ones are not a reflection of you. They are each autonomous beings with their own paths. You are under no obligation to explain them to your partner or compensate for them – trying to do so will make the situation much more stressful for you.
It’s not your job to work through your family’s shit and trying to might end up causing harm to your mental health. Instead of focusing on your differences, take refuge in the common interests that you and your partner share with your family. Of course, if things get too difficult or if you feel unsafe, leave immediately. Even if you commonly deal with your family’s fuckery, you shouldn’t expect bae to do the same.
5. Discovering un-common ground:
When you bring bae home, you may become uncomfortably aware of your cultural differences. This happened to me on Thanksgiving when bae, in his white, mayo-loving glory, filled up his plate with salad (yes, green salad and not the potato salad which was also on the table).
In his family, holidays are not an excuse for indulgence like they are for mine. My Puerto Rican family spent the whole night staring at his plate in disgust. Fuck, I even joined them a few times like ‘this bitch really eating lettuce on Thanksgiving.’ There was nothing wrong with bae’s decision, he simply had different priorities. My point is that these encounters highlight differences. You can peep my column on intercultural relationships for more thoughts on the topic.
7. Avoid disaster by giving proper notice:
Don’t come out to your family by walking into your mama’s home making out with someone on a leather leash. You have every right to come out to your loved ones in any fashion that you choose. But, using your partner as a prop in your coming out play is not appropriate and could potentially be dangerous. Just don’t try it. If you want to bring bae home, come out to your loved ones beforehand and tell them that you plan to bring someone home. Discuss sleeping arrangements in advance because you know once mama makes up the couch, it’s a wrap.
8. Realizing that you still care about the approval of your loved ones:
In my life, 87% of my network is QT, the streets are made of gold glitter, and I suck on as much carpet as a vacuum cleaner. When I’m with my crew, I am unapologetically queer and I shine. But at home I lose that light in the shadow of my family’s expectations. You may feel that way too. Prepare for it and don’t let yourself feel defeated because it’s only natural. Whether your desire to fulfill your family’s expectations is met or not, just remember you don’t need anyone’s approval to be the person that makes you happy.
I hope that you all experience joy, peace, and love this holiday season. If the interactions with your loved ones don’t bring you happiness, remember that you have bae and a QTPOC community that will share love with you after.
Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Vianca Masucci is a health advocate working to eliminate health disparities in underserved populations. Her voice is influenced by her experiences navigating this world as a queer, Afro-Latina with a thousand-year-old soul and an insatiable appetite for social justice. Her Meyers-Briggs personality type is IDGAF.
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