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Make the Yuletide Gay? |

Make the Yuletide Gay?

For many gay men the holidays are an extremely difficult time causing increased feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. The demands and expectations placed upon us during the holidays can be overwhelming. Instead of being a time of joy and celebration, the holidays often become a source of anxiety, conflict, and disappointment.

Several factors contribute to these feelings. As children we had high expectations and fantasies about the holidays. We were flooded with messages and images from television, movies, and advertisements of beautifully decorated homes, and blissful holiday experiences with family and loved ones. For many, however, our lives were less than idyllic, and the images and messages we were fed didn’t match what we experienced or felt on the inside.
 
As gay adults, the holidays pose many unique challenges. Gay men are often forced to make compromises because of who they are. Same-sex couples may be faced with homophobic parents or family members that place undue burdens upon them. Singles may feel like an “outcast” for showing up to family gatherings alone. Oftentimes a significant other may not be welcomed to attend an event even though straight siblings can bring their dates. Worst yet, many guys are completely estranged from their families. Others are isolated due to the death of a partner or having no friends around to celebrate the season with. These internal and external factors cause a lot of stress, leading to isolation and despair around a season that is supposed to be filled with joy.
 
The hype of the holidays makes us believe that the only way to be truly happy is to celebrate with family and loved ones. Truthfully, however, it’s really all about your attitude. There are lots of things you can appreciate and enjoy should you find yourself on your own this holiday season. To do this, you must focus on staying positive, and avoid slipping into negativity.
 
Here are a few suggestions to assist you:
     

  •  Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Don’t criticize and beat yourself up for feeling blue. Tell your ego to be quiet! It doesn’t mean you’re a “loser” if you’re alone this season. That’s complete nonsense! Be kind to yourself. Let go of shame and accept where you are right now. You can always make positive changes.
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  •  Remain open and don’t isolate – If someone asks you what your plans are, don’t avoid the issue and say you have something to do when you really don’t. Be honest and tell them you don’t have any plans. If you’re lucky, they might just offer you to join them in a meal or a fun event.
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  •  Embrace the opportunity for some solitude. Reflect on your life and what you want to accomplish in the new year. This is the perfect time to take inventory of your goals and objectives and develop a plan to achieve them. You’ve got some alone time on your hands. Use it to your advantage.
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  •  Have some fun! Catch up on movies or shows you’ve been dying to see. Get some DVDs or have a Netflix marathon. Many new movies are released on Christmas Day, so take yourself out to see a great new film. Catch up on your reading, or chat and play games online.
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  •  Enjoy the company of pets. If you have a dog or cat enjoy playing and spending time with them. Take your dog for a run in the park. If you don’t have any pets, you may want to consider house and dog sitting for friends who are away. This could definitely be a nice change of pace for you.
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  •  Avoid using drugs and alcohol. If you are in recovery, be sure to stick to your program. The holidays can be a big trigger, so be sure to have supports in place. If you are involved in a 12-Step program, be sure to attend meetings. If you are not in recovery, avoid excessive drinking and reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant, and excessive drinking can definitely make you feel sad.
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  •  If you really dread being alone, seek out some volunteer opportunities. One of the best ways to get outside of your “head” is to donate your time to others. Serve dinner at a homeless shelter or visit seniors at a nursing home to bring them some holiday cheer. You will boost your energy and self-esteem by giving of yourself to others who are less fortunate. You’ll be glad you did!
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  • Check out your local LGBT Community Center to explore social events that may be happening. Connect with others who might also be alone. If you are a person of faith, attend religious services in your local community. Balance your alone time with activities around other people. You will feel less isolated.

 

Remember that no one is responsible for making you happy. This is a choice you get to make. The fact of the matter is that there are many people right now who are involved in bad relationships, or dealing with miserable family situations who would give anything to be in your shoes. Accept what is, and enjoy your own company. Take pleasure in doing things you love but don’t always have the time for.

 

If you expect to be alone this holiday season, please make it a good one. Be good to yourself – focus on what you want to achieve in the new year, enjoy some quality alone time, interact with new people, and help those in need. This is a great opportunity to learn even more about yourself!

 

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