Justice

There's a Sad Reality for Many LGBT Individuals This Thanksgiving

November 25th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to catch up with family, but many in the LGBT community don't have the option of seeing relatives this holiday season, as anti-gay discrimination remains a major problem in our country. A viral image from popular Facebook page Lizzy the Lezzy highlights this struggle below:

LGBT experiences during Thanksgiving

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The meme, which received nearly 60,000 likes, resonated with many Facebook users. Some people even revealed in the comments section that they are unwelcome among their families because of their sexual orientation. The reality is that often homophobia can pull families apart and alienate people.

Lizzy the Lezzy comments

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Even though attitudes on gay marriage continue to become more favorable in our country and the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in June, there is still a great deal of bigotry towards the LGBT community, and not all families will accept a non-heterosexual relative. The popular hashtag #GrowingUpGay has given some people an opportunity to talk about this particular struggle on social media.

Femi Redwood wrote in a recent post for Advocate.com that she's happy to be working over Thanksgiving because of the way her family, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, act around her. Though she says she has never talked to them in detail about her sexuality, Thanksgiving creates many awkward situations for her and her partner:

"The awkwardness continues when my 7-year-old nephew asks why my my girlfriend looks like a boy. How do I explain sexuality, gender, and gender expression to a child who isn’t mine? When my 10-year-old niece asks why I have a girlfriend, how do I answer that? Is it my place to explain that Aunt Femi is attracted to women? And do I tell them their religion is wrong about homosexuality, that being gay is not a sin, and the God I believe in doesn’t judge me? Is that my place?"

Redwood added that her family also introduces her girlfriend to others in inappropriate ways:

"When my family and I are done arguing, and as more friends and relatives are arriving, there is more awkwardness to be had. My family is introducing my girlfriend to the new arrivals as 'Femi’s friend' or 'Femi’s roommate.' Now I must respond: 'No, she is my girlfriend.' And what’s worse, my girlfriend is now the center of all this awkwardness, which isn’t fair to her."

Gay people who do see their families over Thanksgiving also have to deal with relatives who may reduce their sexuality to a fleeting experiment. Last month, a popular meme on the Facebook page Have A Gay Day mocked family members who say someone else's sexuality is just a "phase" and that the individual will realize he or she is straight upon meeting the "right" person of the opposite sex:

Have A Gay Day Facebook

Even sadder than Thanksgiving awkwardness is the fact that many LGBT people have nowhere to go at all during the holiday. According to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, 40 percent of homeless youths in Los Angeles are part of the LGBT community. According to the Center for American Progress, there are up to 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the U.S. Many are kicked out of their homes for being LGBT, and LGBT youths have a harder time getting long-term and short-term shelter than their straight counterparts.

In 2014, Rolling Stone interviewed a young woman named Jackie who said her family completely shut her out once she revealed that she was gay.

"I don't know what we could have done for God to have given us a fag as a child," Jackie remembers her mother saying over the phone before hanging up.

Jackie, who was in college when she told her parents about being a lesbian, found herself running out of money and having nowhere to live. She eventually asked them to welcome her back into the family again, but they said they'd only do it if she agreed to attend conversion therapy. This didn't work for her.

"I wanted to be their kid, but I couldn't change," she said. "Everyone I'd ever known my whole life cut ties with me. But this was who I am."

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