While gratitude was the original intention behind Thanksgiving tradition, in today’s fraught political landscape, the autumnal holiday has become an increasingly divisive and scary time — especially for queer people, or any marginalized person who is forced to mingle with their shitty, fire-breathing MAGA relatives. But nonetheless, Thanksgiving is a time for bonding, and if you feel safe, it could be a perfect time to come out to your family.
There are thousands of ways to come out, and each person’s story is different. Coming out can be an extremely emotional and vulnerable journey, and sharing that with someone, or trusting a person with that information can be a huge deal. You have to do what feels right for you, and you have to protect yourself if you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. So, if you want inspiration, or just need a little nudge in the right direction, here are some tips on how to come out to your shitty family this Thanksgiving.
The Carol Litmus Test
This one’s simple: it’s kind of like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing if it sticks. If you’re unsure how your family will react, and you need to gauge if they’re LGBTQ allies or not, use this simple litmus test. Simply ask your relatives if they’ve seen the movie Carol. It’s an Oscar-winner, so they’re more likely to have seen it than some obscure lesbian movie you’ve rented six times on Amazon Prime but are too proud to just buy.
If your family member has seen Carol, and they say anything along the lines of, “Yes, great picture,” or “Really good coats,” you’re probably in the clear. If they say something like, “The story wasn’t for me but the cinematography was noteworthy,” you’ll need to suss it out further — because yes, the cinematography was noteworthy, but also the part where the two ladies’ nipples touch rocks. Ask your family member if they thought Carol was Cate Blanchett’s best role. If they answer yes, or say Blue Jasmine, or even Thor: Ragnarok; they’re an ally. Ask if they’ve seen any of Rooney Mara’s other films. If they ask “who,” back away slowly.
Tell Your Grandma Your Taylor Swift Lesbian Theory
For this route, you’re going to have to ease your grandma into it. If your grandma is anything like mine, then she catatonically rotates between The View, Ellen, and E! News every day, then regurgitates the news stories back to you with Frankensteined narratives and butchered names. Grandmas love pop culture, so this is a perfect way to grease her up. First, ask grandma what she thinks about Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s breakup. If she says, “I think Ariella Durante can do better,” then she knows what’s up. Keep going.
Tell her everything you’ve been talking to your online friends about over the last year. “Yes, I’m sure my Twitter friends are real people. No, I’m not worried they’ll murder me. Yes, Taylor Swift is considered to be canonically queer in many factions and subdivisions of the Swiftie standom. No, she didn’t write 1989 about a woman. Yes, all of Reputation is about Karlie Kloss. Next question.” Lesbian theories are a perfect way to ease your grandma into queer culture, because if she can understand the culture, then she can accept the person. And if she understands that every single celebrity is gay, it will normalize your own queerness.
Spill Iced Coffee on Your Aunt Susan
Roll up to Thanksgiving 40 minutes late with a Venti iced coffee and dump it all over Aunt Susan’s “Can I speak to your manager” hair. Fuck her. You’ve seen her Facebook posts. You know she thinks Trump has a “wacky personality” but “decent policies.” Nothing says “Bitch, I’m gay” like a spilled iced coffee. It’s time to drench your oppressors. #DrenchYourOppressors2018
Fist the Turkey
Look your brother dead in the eye while you’re elbow deep in turkey guts and nod knowingly. He’ll get it.
Say “Hayley Kiyoko”
This is the easiest way to test a family member’s allyship, and it has a 100% success rate. Simply say the words “Hayley Kiyoko.” If they nod or give any indication that they recognize the name, you are golden. But if you say “Hayley Kiyoko” and they respond, “Kaley Cuoco?” Fucking run.
Talk to Straight People Using Words They’ll Understand
Sometimes, you have to dumb it down for the heterosexual community. Instead of saying “Ooh, here’s the tea sis. I’m gay — and I know what you’re thinking. Who is she? She is me, and we stan, OKURRR,” try something lighter. Instead of grabbing their attention with, “Ooh, here’s the tea sis,” just quote Anchorman. There is nothing straight people respond more positively to than 2000s Will Ferrell movies. Say, “Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story, and I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen.”
Then, instead of saying “Cannonball,” lay it on them. Tell them your roommate of six years, Brittany, is actually your girlfriend. When they inevitably still don’t get it, say she’s the Ennis del Mar to your Jack Twist. Sometimes, the only way an old straight can understand queerness is through the use of Brokeback Mountain analogies.
Just Fucking Go For It
Ah fuck it, just start speaking another language. Tell them that Dua Lipa is the only pop star that gay men and lesbians can truly agree on. Talk their ear off about how much sexual tension Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett had in Ocean’s 8. Give them the rundown on Blake Lively’s suits in A Simple Favor, and how cool it was when she kissed Anna Kendrick on the mouth, even if she was perpetuating a trope about evil bisexuals. Remind them that Rachel Weisz has not one, but two lesbian movies out this year. Tell them Miley Cyrus is pansexual. Demand that no one erases Kehlani’s queerness just because she’s pregnant and in a straight-presenting relationship. Say Love, Simon is a monumental gay rom-com but you’d prefer a blockbuster with a protagonist that doesn’t perform white, privileged masculinity. Who cares?! Your family needs to get educated! They need to know that Ezra Miller — yes, that guy from straight movies like Fantastic Beasts and Justice League — is gender-queer! If not now, then when? IT’S CALLED THANKS-GAY-VING NOW, FUCK YOU AND YOUR KATE PLUS 8 HAIR, AUNT SUSAN!!
Be Safe and Come Out on Your Own Terms
In all seriousness, Thanksgiving can be an optimal time to come out—but also, it might not feel right. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the idea of having all your relatives under one roof. Maybe you’re ready to rip the band-aid off, and would rather do it all at once. Whatever you decide, remember that you’re not alone, and you have a massive community of people who know exactly what you’re going through. Even if you don’t have access to the LGBTQ community in real life, just know that one day, you will. And for now, you can go online and talk to us about Dua Lipa’s outfits in the trenches of Instagram.
Here’s the Human Rights Campaign’s resource guide to coming out if, for some odd reason, none of these ideas helped.
Illustration by Bronwyn Lundberg