A Word From Our Youth

Avoiding Conflict During Family Gatherings: A Teenage Perspective 

By Emma Berger

I’m Emma Berger, I’m a Lesbian teenager. I come from an accepting family and live in an accepting area, so I’ve never experienced homophobia/transphobia personally, but I overhear it on a day-to-day basis. At school, on the internet, in public, etc. it’s everywhere no matter where you are.

It’s around that time, Thanksgiving, Christmas, holidays in general, and people are visiting their families for the holidays. While I do have an accepting family at home, there’s still my extended family, like my aunts, cousins, grandparents, you name it, who aren’t educated on LGBTQ+ matters. 

There are many people in my family who have older beliefs, and probably yours too. They are going to assume you’re cisgender and straight because that’s what’s “normal” for them. They aren’t going to change their views, and it’s probably no use explaining it to them unless you really trust that they’ll listen and try to understand. 

These folks will most likely use your dead name, use your wrong pronouns, and assume things in general. I mean this in the best way possible, you might just have to just deal with it because you can’t change everyone’s mind. It’s like trying to convince a vegan to eat meat. They aren’t going to do it because they feel it’s wrong. Some people aren’t going to support it, or eat the meat, because they feel it’s wrong.

I recommend you try not to bring up any controversial topics around certain family members who don’t support the LGBTQ+ community. It’s not worth the argument, and some things like this can even ruin relationships with family members. If a family member brings up one of these topics, I usually just play along with it, I don’t say anything offensive, and I avoid agreeing with the things they say, or I just leave the room.

If there are people in your family who you think are accepting, let them give you support. You deserve all the support you can get, whether it’s from friends, teachers, family, or people you look up to. If there’s someone who is willing to be educated, educate them. Some people need help understanding, so help them. 

If you need someone to talk to, but you don’t have anyone, write it down! I find that writing has always gotten me through tough times. It helps me express myself in a way I can’t do around others. It’s a great way to process confusing emotions. So, write down how you’re feeling, or write about another person going through the same things. I say this because literally anybody can write stuff if they have the right materials, and you don’t even have to be good at it because you’re only writing for yourself.

Also, you don’t have to hate your family members for not understanding or supporting people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. They just don’t get it, and they probably won’t ever. I understand being frustrated with family members; I get frustrated too. I’ve tried to inform people from my family and educate them, but it didn’t really work out. It just ended up leaving both me and my family upset. It’s honestly annoying, but you must be strong, put on your thick skin, and hopefully my suggestions will help you better deal with it.

I hope this helps and enjoy your holidays!