Clarkisha Explains: Why It’s Hard Being Queer During The Holidays

My mother called me on Thanksgiving. Twice. I was annoyed, but not shocked. She had literally been calling me the week before. For the entire week. And quite frankly, she tends to do this every year. No matter what’s happening, no matter what trifling things have been said, or no matter what trifling things she has defended my abusive father for as of late (he’s smart — he doesn’t even call anymore), the cycle repeats itself.

No matter what, when the holidays come around, there she goes again.

To be clear, a bitch is always Gucci up until October 31st. The 31st is amazing! It’s the peak of spooky bitch season, duh! After that? When the clock strikes midnight and the calendar flips over into November? Well, I am whatever lovechild would result from Scrooge McDuck and The Grinch procreating.

Yikes is right.

Which is to say that the holidays are not the best time for me. But they tend not to be for those of us who are queer. Or perhaps non-religious or ex-religious. Or perhaps have very toxic family members who we have cut off. And Beyoncé help you if you deal with a combination of all three. That’s where I’m at. I’m all three. And this makes Thanksgiving and the Winter Holiday Season™ that much more precarious to deal with when you’re someone in my position who has cut like 85 percent of their toxic family members off.


What’s a queer girl to do now that the Winter Holiday Season™ is in full swing? Well, I definitely want to count all the reasons I hate this season. Or…I could constructively explain why it is especially hard to be queer during this time of the year.

Starting with number one:

1. The extended holiday season stresses family  the traditional family  and that makes it hard, even if you have a chosen family.

I’d argue that about 70 percent of the queer experience is realizing that you’re actual family isn’t shit, cutting them off after this realization (which I will get to), and being grown enough to recognize that you don’t need that shit in your life and that you can choose your own family. Realizing I could do this back in college was an incredibly liberating experience and survived as the push I needed to start the great Kent Family culling that happened when I cut mad bitches off.

And for most of the year? Your chosen family is it. This is a concept that works. The chosen family represents a lot of things, but particularly love in action, and for a good chunk of the year, they make me feel unstoppable and sane.

Still. The holidays tend to mess with this mostly foolproof idea.

You see, both Thanksgiving and the Winter Holiday Season™ push this idea, this narrative, that no matter what kind of family set-up you have going during the normal year, you are supposed to abandon all of that for your actual family when November 1st arrives. Your traditional family. Your biological family. Even if you don’t talk to those fuckers for the other 10 months in the year (and even if you have good ass reasons for refusing to do so) you are made to look or feel like a completely abrasive, selfish, and apathetic weirdo if you have no desire to follow that trend.

Neither is life!

Which is hilarious. You’ll go from feeling like a bad bitch to thinking that you are supposed to be sitting across from the parents who threw you out for being queer or the aunt who goes out of her way to tell you that you’re going to hell even though she’s playing catch with someone else’s husband or the uncle who most likely molested you even though as an adult — you have the choice to refuse such wayward tradition. And this is fucked up, because even though your chosen family is more than enough for these or any holidays, the twin heifers of capitalism and commercialization will flank you on both sides, telling you that you are inadequate for your “makeshift” family and lack of things.

Which leads me to number two:

2. The commercialism of said holidays can leave you feeling utterly worthless if your pockets aren’t caught up with your “holiday cheer.”

I’ma keep it all the way 100 with y’all. This year has been the worst for me. Not only because I’ve taken a chain combo of Ls in an amount that I didn’t think was possible, but also because for the first time in about four years, I am barely able to make it month to month where my financials are concerned — which was such a devastating blow to my morale and my pride after my big move to California.

Now, let me be clear.

This is not an invitation to feel sorry for me, because pity is ugly as fuck. But this is something that needs to be known, so you can understand how someone like myself could go from being okay — even in such dire straits for most of the year — to feeling the tempting pangs of suicidal ideation during the full swing of the holiday season.

And by that, I mean that being poor or broke or impoverished (or whatever word matches your current financial situation) during the holidays is debilitating. To say the least. During Thanksgiving, it stings because to make “big food” (what my aunt calls “good food”), you need “big money.” Your measly three dollars isn’t enough to put on some Thanksgiving feast or get some of the quality ingredients you need to make this happen. If you don’t cook and you go somewhere else to grub during this time,  then this won’t matter to you. But if you do cook or even like cooking and you suddenly don’t have the money to, this can be soul-crushing — especially if you’re away from your chosen family like I was this year.

Now for the winter season — particularly everybody’s favorite vapid bitch, Christmas? Well, if you can’t afford to show off your love in gifts, you might as well fall off the same cliff that Mufasa tumbled down and get trampled by Rudolph and his fake ass goons.

This live-animation film is gonna fucking ruin me.

On a more serious note, there’s a lot of ugly ways that capitalism and commercialism show themselves in America, but Christmas (followed by Valentine’s Day) is perhaps one of the ugliest. Sure, said systems attempt to push wholesome messages like family and charity and selflessness during this season, but those messages tend to get drowned out by the “BUY THIS OR BE WACK” atmosphere of the holiday. Because as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter how much you truly love your friends or family or how charitable or giving you are during this holiday. Because this particular season is all about the dollars, how much you have of them, and what you can by with them. And your so-called “charitable spirit” and in many cases, love, is in fact measured by how many of these dollars you can dish out and give away in gifts.

No dollars? No dice!

I mean, there’s a reason people tend to go bankrupt during the holiday season and I don’t think you can entirely blame it on Santa.

Which brings me to my last point:

3. The extended holiday season is a time when toxic family members (and even friends or [ex]-lovers) tend to pop back up when your will is the weakest.

This is the BIGGEST reason that this season is so tough for queer folx. Because under the combined forces of capitalism and family values that dictate that family is oh-so-important, it opens the door for even the most unsavory of family members to crawl back into your life if you’re not careful.

Christmas is the biggest offender, because with the kind of American Evangelical messages the holiday attempts to shove down all of our throats, America’s anemic conception of forgiveness is ramped all the way up during this never-ending winter wonder-hellscape and makes it so that Christmas is the perfect time for toxic family to pick up that phone and pretend like they didn’t kick you out of the house or hurt you or whatever the fuck.

Plainly-speaking, gays and girls, Christmas (and Thanksgiving) is the Super Bowl for the toxic and they treat the entire season as such.

Which is why I was personally so annoyed with the increased calls from my mother during this time of year. I can’t really get into the nitty gritty of why we don’t talk anymore, but the point is that she knows why. Toxic family members and associates always know that you’re not fucking with them and decide to crash in on your holiday spirit like the Kool-Aid man because they just don’t fucking care. And that can be hard for some of us to understand.


That said, however, perhaps one of the only wonderful things about growing up is that said growth is accompanied by autonomy and said growth comes with the choice to not only choose how to deal with this extremely long holiday season, but also who we allow to celebrate it with us. If we even choose to celebrate.

Now, does this incredibly harrowing season get easier to navigate with time? I don’t know. Ask me in four more years.

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