I’m writing this the day before Thanksgiving. I’m weighed down with exhaustion – I manage a grocery store, and the holidays always hit us like a tidal wave. But I’m also weighed down with sorrow, with grief. As the holidays approach, I’ve felt an inexplicable dread come over me, and a deep grief. The sort of grief that exists deeper than conscious thought, and lives in the body itself.
I’ve given myself time to live with this grief, lean into it, and a flood of memories rise up.
I was a gay son in a huge, conservative Christian family. Holidays were an overwhelming explosion of celebration and joy, with nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents. The events were always permeated with the glow of pride in our brood: pride in marriage, procreation, and grandchildren.
My nephew, in his simple way, asked me one year why I don’t have a wife. He asked what I knew they were all wondering – why I can’t join the dance they’ve been in for generations. I hid myself in my room after he asked that, filled with self loathing.
Self loathing was the end point of every holiday with family. Years of internalized homophobia would flair up like a deadly fever. Some years all I could do was just hide in bed, consumed by my acute hatred of my own being.
What was always intended to be a time of celebration, joy, and connection, has for me become a time of heartbreak and grieving. Grieving for the loss of connection with family because of something I never chose, grieving the titanic disappointment that I am to my family, grieving for the repeated pain, year after year after year, of being queer in a Christian home.
My world is different, now. I’m partnered with a beautiful, gentle, brilliant man. I’m in a community that supports me. I no longer obsess over being gay, and I now obsess over things that bring me joy like movies, books, and podcasts. And yet, even now, the holidays bring sorrow.
So when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, I won’t be celebrating. I will do the things that bring peace, the things I do every day: run, create, work, read, and be with my partner. If I could, I would erase the holidays from my life.
Perhaps, some day, I will heal enough to celebrate the holidays again. Perhaps my little queer family will find a way to make the holidays our own. But for now, I just can’t. It hurts too much.