Tis the season to be good to you

by Mikel LaPorte
Guest Columnist

I love the holidays. Thanksgiving is upon us, but specifically, I love Christmas. Even more specifically, I love the Hallmark Movie Channel/Norman Rockwell version of Christmas. You know, the one where love prevails, romance blossoms, or once estranged families reunite just in time to celebrate with one another.

If only life imitated art, we could all live in this picturesque world. Unfortunately, for many members of our community, the reality is much different from the idyllic scenes in the sappy holiday movies I so enjoy.

A recent Pew study found that 39 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals report a friend or family member rejected them because of their sexuality or gender identity. Twenty-three percent of our community reports they felt unwelcome in a place of worship, and 21 percent report their employer has treated them unfairly.

What do those statistics have to do with the holidays you ask? Quite a lot, actually. So many holiday traditions take place in familial settings, places of worship, or at work parties. For many in our community, these settings are no longer welcoming or available.

As the statistics show, families or places of worship, and often both, have rejected many in our community. Oklahoma and the surrounding states currently have no workplace protections in place for those who come out, or even those suspected of being LGBTQ+. Therefore, choosing to take a same-sex spouse or partner to a work party could ultimately result in the loss of employment.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have parents who love and support me, and my husband’s family is supportive as well. However, when you start to get to my extended family, things change. While everyone is polite, there is this sense of underlying disapproval or judgment, which makes large family gatherings, especially holidays, uncomfortable.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I find myself in a funk this year. With the current federal and state administration’s working against our community, it can be difficult to find things for which to be thankful.

If, like me, you find yourself in a funk this holiday season, here are some suggested activities that may lift your spirits.

  • Practice good self-care. Get enough rest, eat a proper meal at least once a day, and visit the doctor if you are sick.
  • Start your own traditions. Finding new ways to celebrate the holidays can be a great way to reclaim them for yourself.
  • Support one another. If you need a place to go, ask a friend. If you know someone who needs a place to celebrate, invite them to celebrate with you. 
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Yes, it sounds corny, but it works. Tracking the small things in our lives for which we can be grateful does add up over time.
  • Volunteer at a shelter. Find a homeless shelter, a woman’s shelter, or any other agency that helps others. There is something about giving to others, which makes us feel better about our own lives. 
  • Take a break. Take a break from social media, from the 24-hour news cycle, from all of the responsibilities of your life. I am not suggesting you check out; I am talking about what Stephen Covey calls “Sharpening the saw.” Spend time having fun and rejuvenating so you can take on the world.  

The holidays can be hard. Be good to yourself, and each other.

Copyright The Gayly. 11/8/2018 @ 11:57 a.m. CST.