For many in the GLBT community, the term family has different meanings. Some have been rejected by their birth families because of their sexual orientation. Many of these folks have created new families with others in the community and with friends. Bringing a new partner around the second type of family can be an affirming experience. Being able to be with the one you love during the holidays is a bonding experience, and when you can be yourself and feel free to show affection in front of the “family” the experience can be comforting and familiar.
For those who have been able to maintain a relationship with their birth family, going to visit them for the holidays to be can be nerve wracking but it can also be fulfilling and fun. For these folks, the bonding with family that can happen during these gatherings is something they look forward to while keeping in mind that there are those in the family who may display homophobic attitudes. Some are able to let this scrutiny about their romantic lives roll off their backs while others are deeply bothered by it. Being prepared for those negative attitudes can go a long way to being able to survive them during the get-together.
Bringing along your boyfriend/girlfriend for the first time, whether gay, straight or anything else holds hope that your family can see in this person the things you see and fell in love with. You may be doing this to show to your family that this relationship has moved to a level where you are seriously contemplating sharing your life with this person. How to take this person to meet your family can be a challenge. Do you prepare your family and tell them who you are bringing? Do you just show up with the person and demand they be accepted into the fold? Preparing your family for bringing a partner to a family holiday gathering is probably for the best. Additionally, after speaking to them you will be able to gauge what the welcome will be like and what to expect from family members.
Talking openly about your coming out experience to your family with your partner is probably something you have already done. However, now is the time to also share with your partner how others in the family have reacted to your coming out. Preparing your partner in the best way possible without totally scaring them would be beneficial. Remember, they are probably already nervous to be included in the special time and they may feel especially vulnerable. Talk to them about the people they will meet, describing how they may react to your relationship. Tell them about family members who made your coming out easier and those members who have supported you. Finally, make sure your partner knows how much it means to you that they are willing to meet your family.
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