How to Deal With Biphobic Family During the Holidays

11/19/2018

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The holidays are upon us. For the lucky ones, this season is a time of joy, family, and laughter. For others, it’s a bit less picture-perfect and a lot more stressful. There are the issues of expensive flights, taking off work, buying presents, cooking a feast, and dealing with your alcoholic aunt Cheryl who’s vehemently pro Trump. If you’re queer, it can be even tougher, especially if your family doesn’t accept your sexual identity or gets uncomfortable – or at worst – hostile when you bring your partner to Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re bi, you may definitely experience a lot of homophobia, but you may also experience some uncomfortable comments because of your bi identity. Well, I’m here to help you! Here’s how to deal with biphobic family members during the holidays.

Find the balance between engaging in arguments and self-care

Who knows what your parents/siblings/cousins/uncles, etc. may say to you at the Thanksgiving dinner table. They may ask if you’re still bi because you’re dating a man or woman. They may question your sexuality. Or, their attacks maybe subtler— arguably innocuous — but equally hurtful. Questions like, “So do you see yourself settling down with a man or a woman?”  can be triggering — or if nothing else —frustrating to bi folks. Especially, if you’re like me and haven’t dated anyone for more than a few months in what seems like forever. I can barely think about who I’m going to have a fling with next —let alone who I plan on calling my partner for years to come.

When this happens, you have two options. One, is to engage and educate. I would say do this if you think it would make a difference —noting that often, it takes multiple conversations in order to sway someone’s mind. But there are people whose opinions are unmovable. Of course, you don’t know who falls into the former and latter category, but I feel like you do have a sense. Sometimes, it simply isn’t worth it to engage, especially if you just want to have one holiday dinner without getting into a fight with someone.

So please, always put yourself and your wellbeing first. Educate, debate, and change minds second.

Suggest things to read or watch

Okay, so I do this when people are arguing just for the sake of arguing, which for some odd reason, happens with bisexuality all the damn time. People “claim” they want to know more about bisexuality, yet already have their opinions set in stone. They want to somehow “prove” that you’re not bi or that bisexuality isn’t real. These people don’t really care to learn. They’re just arguing because they receive some form of perverse glee from proving to people that they’re not bi based off of some arbitrary criteria that they alone decided.

So, if this is the case, find some articles (i.e., my articles or suggest they watch “The Bisexual” on Hulu) to help explain some bi struggles. Even I do this because sometimes it’s much more difficult to argue in person than it is to just say, “Read this.”  And if they are “claiming” they want to actually know more, then they’ll read it, or more realistically, they’ll drop it all together.

Saying, “It’s really tough for me to describe, but theses pieces do a really good job at explaining,” usually ends the conversation because they’ll say, “Okay, I’ll read it later.”

Have a person on your team

I don’t mean another bi person (although that would be awesome, too). I mean make sure to have a friend or sibling or someone at the dinner table who can support you through the BS that is the holidays. Having someone stick up for you, or say, “Let’s walk away for a second,” or literally anything else can be so helpful. You’ll feel less alone. You shouldn’t have to go through the stressful holiday season by yourself.

Also, in case this isn’t clear, you should literally ask for help beforehand. “Hey, mom and dad really get to me on Thanksgiving, so I need your help. I don’t want to fly off the deep end.”

Hopefully, these tips help you get through the holiday season with biphobic relatives. If you can, try to have some fun. Lastly, as Dan Savage says quite often, the biggest bargaining chip you have over your family is your presence. If they really don’t accept you for being bi, and they berate you for being queer, then don’t go to Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah dinner. Do a dinner with friends instead. You don’t have to go just because they’re your biological family. Remember, as queers, we have our chosen family. Spend the holidays with them instead!

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.