LGBTQIA+ During The Holidays: Is Having The Talk With Your Family About Your Identity Necessary?

Being Black and queer during the holidays can cause anxiety and depression for those who come from traditionally conservative families. Every holiday, you can count on a nosy family member inquiring about your relationship status or lack thereof or asking about intimate details about your sexuality. These questions can be intrusive, hurtful, and sometimes even dangerous. To remedy the anxiety around potential conversations, we wanted to empower our audiences with the words, confidence, and tools to have “the talk” during the holidays if identity questions arise.

So, we tapped several queer experts who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community, including Dr. Jenn Jackson, Black lesbian feminist educator and trauma researcher, Sesali Bowen, content creator, host, and author of Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes From a Trap Feminist and the multi-hyphenated creators from the Up and Coming Legendary Children Podcast to hear their thoughts on this topic and provide expert insight and advice. 

The IG Live, hosted on our ESSENCE Instagram channel, features the experts sharing their experiences, best practices, and safety needs. However, the conversation also touches on an important topic: Is having “the talk” still necessary? When asked if it was, as Dr. Jenn Jackson candidly shares, “There’s been much reframing in coming out over the last few years. Now it’s more about inviting in, which is helpful language, mostly because most of the members in the LGBTQIA+ community don’t come out like that. Many of us have been queer for a long time and knew we were queer. We had a trusted community that we were already comfortable and authentic around.” 

She continued, “It’s just so many people that are violent toward us, so we’re not able to fully share ourselves with the world. When we talk about coming out, that privileges cisgender straight folks and says that their perception of us is a priority in our lives, and it’s just not. [The talk] conversation may not be helpful because many of us don’t care about how they feel about us, and we shouldn’t. Many of us are learning to center our own experiences and care.” 

Jackson believes that while the LGBTQIA+ community needs support and care from allies, many have opted out of spaces where they feel uncomfortable and not accepted. “We’ve opted out of teaching people how to love us because there are already people who do,” she says. Instead of having “the talk” with family members, Venn, of the Up and Coming Legendary Children Podcast, suggests the following, “It’s more about introducing you to who I am. I’m preparing myself to be the family member other queer persons can come out to. I’m learning how to hold space for them. I’m prioritizing them over other people who may not be as accepting. Having support from my parents has prepared me to not ask for acceptance.” 

While each of our panelists was comfortable within their identity and knew themselves intimately, we had to acknowledge that some people may not be there yet and hold space for them. But, the conversation helps massage the disconnect of discomfort around identity for those individuals because they see visible examples of what confidence, connection, and community looks like, allowing them to rest in their power. 

Hear more of the conversation centered around safety and belonging with decided chosen family below, and catch the full chat on ESSENCE’s Instagram. 

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