What Not to Say to Your Queer Relatives During the Holidays

Check your homophobic drivel at the door.

‘Tis the season to… leave that homophobic shit at home!

Since I was a child, I have dreaded holiday visits from my otherwise distant relatives. Aunts, uncles, and older cousins that I hadn’t seen in years showed up in droves, mostly empty-handed or wielding a pan of food that no one—including their own children—wanted to eat. When I turned 8, however, those family members became weirdly interested in my sexual orientation, and my lack of girlfriend(s).

The conversations always started with, “You got so big since the last time we visited,” and ended with something like, “Where’s your girlfriend? You do like girls, don’t you?” As the years passed, the questions only became more uncomfortable and invasive, too.

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2016’s Thanksgiving was an unforgettable experience for me. I can’t forget the sweet scent of marshmallows melting into the candied yams and the beautiful chatter of my family’s collective hatred for Trump. That peaceful start, of course, was quickly soured the moment that a handful of my family members started saying that, while they hated Trump, they secretly hope that he “bans gay weddings.”

Not three minutes after that largely homophobic discussion about how “God made Adam and Eve—not Adam and Steve,” my aunt looked directly in my face and asked, “Do you have a girlfriend yet, or do you like men?” I was too stunned to respond.

Moving forward, I vowed to never let anyone make me feel the way I felt at the dinner table ever again. If they were going to make me uncomfortable with their relentless questions, then I was going to make them feel uncomfortable with my over-the-top and unapologetically queer answers. And, reader—I did.

One of my favorite aunts finally apologized to me last year, saying that she wasn’t aware that some of her questions were anti-queer and made me feel uncomfortable. “This is why LGBTQ people should teach us instead of getting mad at us when we say something stupid,” she said.

I quickly told her that it isn’t our job to set homophobic people straight. However, this year, I’m feeling generous. So, I’ve compiled a list of things that you shouldn’t say to your LGBTQ family members during the holidays. Study up!

“Why don’t you have a girlfriend/boyfriend yet?”

Maybe we really are focused on our schooling. Maybe we really are focused on our careers. Or… maybe it’s none of your fucking business. The dinner table is not the time nor the place to bug us about our failing dating life, or the dating life we choose to keep secret.

“Be careful on that ‘Grindr’ app.”

Yes, an aunt of mine actually said this to me last year. I was stunned. How do you even reply to that? “Okay, Aunty?” Hard pass. Please, for the love of all that is gay and holy, don’t bring up queer dating apps at the dinner table.

“Who else is gay around here?”

I don’t know, Uncle Willy, I thought everyone was gay around the holidays.

Just because we’re queer, it doesn’t mean that we have a GPS (Gay Positioning System) that tracks every other LGBTQ person within a 10-mile radius. I mean, Grindr certainly makes a great effort, but let’s be real: Not everyone is tech-savvy.

“Make sure that you have safe sex and get tested every month.”

One thing I’ve learned from my homophobic relatives: Apparently, only queer people can contract STDs and spread them. Seriously, grow up. Worry about your untreated crab-lice and chlamydia, cousin.

“So, are you the man or the woman in the relationship?”

Aunty Dee, I know what you’re really asking. This question is just a diet version of, “Are you a top or bottom?” (Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m the man in the relationship. I mean—Mind your business!)

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“I know the perfect guy/girl for you…”

No, you don’t. You barely know the perfect guy for you.

Stop assuming that the dating pool for queer people is so shallow, we’re willing to pounce on anyone with a little sugar in their tank. I’m picky, fam. That’s why I didn’t sample any of your green bean casserole!

“I always knew that you were ‘queer,’ why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

I always hate when someone said this to me. If you knew about my sexual orientation before asking, that means you likely kept asking me about my non-existent girlfriends for the sick satisfaction of making me uncomfortable. I should put a laxative in your plate when you’re not looking.

“I guess this means you’re not planning on having any children.”

Not necessarily true! If I want to build a family with a cisgender man, there are many avenues for doing so. And when I choose to have children, I won’t have to worry about ducking child support court, unlike you.

“Oh, you’re queer? Now you can do my makeup and help me pick out cute outfits.”

No thanks! I’d only make you look like a clown, which might be fitting for you—considering that you believe queerness comes with an all-things-fashion manual. I can barely dress my character on The Sims. Please don’t burden me with the responsibility of making you look more stupid than you already look.

“Can you can hook me up with all your lady friends?! Gay people make the best wingmen.”

First of all, no. My lady friends don’t want you. Not the trans lady friends, not the cis lady friends—literally none of my lady friends.

Another thing you should know about queer men and their “lady friends”? We don’t think that anyone is good enough to be with our friends. Therefore, we will make up lies about you having super gonorrhea or being homophobic.

New York City-based writer with bylines in Playboy, MTV News, Billboard, and more.
@snacktavist