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How to Respond to Homophobic and Transphobic Comments at Dinner

Navigating Thanksgiving: A Guide to Responding to Homophobic and Transphobic Comments from Family Members

    Thanksgiving is a special time when we can reflect on what we are thankful for and spend time with our loved ones over a delicious meal. However, it can be challenging when some families aren't as accepting or supportive of LGBTQIA+ identities. Suppose your family tends to make offensive "jokes" or is outright hateful or ignorant with their comments. In that case, it can make the holiday less enjoyable.

    As someone who identifies as queer, it's super important to stand up for yourself and spread love to bring about change in our community. We understand that responding gracefully to those comments can be tricky, so we put together a guide to help you understand and create a more inclusive environment.

1. Stop, Breathe, Think: 

Do: Take time to gather your thoughts, engage in some deep breathing to slow your heart rate, wait until your thoughts become more clear. 

Avoid: Reacting impulsively, escalating the situation, or responding with anger.

    Homophobic and transphobic comments can be hurtful, but responding with anger may not be the most effective approach. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, breathe deeply, and choose how you want to answer.

    During this time, you can ask more questions to help them think more critically and put it on them to be the ones to respond. Ask questions about where they learned these messages and what facts they have to explain their thinking. Encouraging people to share their thoughts and reasoning before speaking is important. This will lead to a better understanding of their perspective and help avoid misunderstandings. This can also help you understand them more to help you respond best.

2. Choose Education Over Confrontation: 

Do: Share information and personal experiences to educate. 

Avoid: Engaging in arguments, attacking, or belittling others.

    To make society more inclusive and understanding, we have to educate families about the LGBTQ+ community. Doing so can help smash stereotypes, reduce hate, and promote empathy and love. 

    One way to do this is by sharing personal stories about being in the LGBTQ+ community. This helps put a human face on the issues and create a more emotional connection for those unfamiliar with the community. Also, it helps to clear up any fake news or stereotypes they might've heard.

    It's essential to be open-minded and listen when talking about this stuff. Encouraging questions and creating a safe space for discussion can go a long way in promoting understanding and acceptance. Remember, our approach can make all the difference in creating a more chill and supportive community.

3. Set Boundaries 

 Do: Clearly express your boundaries and the impact of their words. 

Avoid: Ignoring the comments, letting disrespectful behavior slide, or being overly confrontational.

If you feel comfortable, set clear boundaries regarding acceptable behavior. Politely express that homophobic and transphobic comments are hurtful, and explain the impact such language has on you and others. Use "I" statements to communicate your feelings (I feel _feeling__ when you _action_). This can help family members understand the impact of their words.

4. Redirect the Conversation: 

Do: Shift the conversation to neutral topics or positive experiences. 

Avoid: Dwelling on the negative comments, forcing the issue, or isolating yourself.

Redirecting the conversation allows you to move away from uncomfortable topics. Share positive experiences, ask about others' lives, or discuss neutral subjects. This shift in focus can diffuse tension and create a more enjoyable atmosphere for everyone. Avoid dwelling on the negative comments, as it may intensify emotions.

5. Discuss Shared Values: 

Do: Find common ground and appeal to shared values of love and acceptance.

 Avoid: Highlighting differences, making it an "us vs. them" scenario, or preaching.

Connect with family members on shared values, emphasizing love, acceptance, and the importance of family bonds. Appeal to their empathy by highlighting the universal desire for understanding and respect. Avoid creating an adversarial atmosphere by framing the conversation as a shared journey towards inclusivity.

6. Use Humor to Lessen Tension: 

Do: Use humor to diffuse tension without belittling others. 

Avoid: Sarcasm, mocking, or making light of serious issues.

Humor can be a powerful tool to ease tension. Craft a light-hearted comment that redirects the conversation without belittling anyone. Choose a tone that is inclusive rather than confrontational, promoting a more positive atmosphere. However, be cautious not to make light of serious issues or contribute to a dismissive atmosphere.

7. Seek Support Afterward: 

Do: Reach out to supportive friends or family members after the dinner.

 Avoid: Isolating yourself or internalizing negative emotions.

It's essential to recognize the emotional toll homophobic or transphobic comments can take. Seek support from friends or family members who are understanding and accepting. Discussing your feelings with those who empathize can help you process the experience and provide valuable insights for future interactions. You can schedule with a therapist in California for professional support. 

8. Educate:

 Do: Share resources and recommend educational materials. 

Avoid: Pressuring family members, being confrontational, or forcing information on them.

If family members express a willingness to learn, provide resources and recommend educational materials about LGBTQ+ issues. Share documentaries, articles, or books that offer diverse perspectives. Encourage voluntary education rather than forcing information, fostering a more receptive environment.

9. Model Desired Behaviors

Do: Demonstrate love, acceptance, and respect through your actions. 

Avoid: Retaliatory comments, negative body language, or isolation.

Model the values of love, acceptance, and respect through your behavior. Demonstrate that embracing diversity enriches relationships and enhances family dynamics. Avoid retaliatory comments or negative body language, as this may hinder the message of inclusivity you aim to convey.

10. Follow-Up with a One-On-One Conversation: 

Do: If appropriate, consider having a follow-up conversation about the impact of their comments. 

Avoid: Forcing a conversation, being confrontational, or pressuring others.

After the Thanksgiving dinner, if you feel it's appropriate and safe, consider having a one-on-one follow-up conversation with the family member who made the comments. Share your perspective, express your feelings, and listen to their thoughts. This approach allows for a more in-depth discussion outside the potentially charged holiday atmosphere.

In conclusion, responding to homophobic and transphobic comments during Thanksgiving dinner requires a delicate balance of assertiveness, education, and empathy. By maintaining composure, choosing education over confrontation, and setting boundaries, you can contribute to fostering a more inclusive environment within your family. Thanksgiving can be an opportunity to bridge gaps and promote understanding, turning a challenging situation into a chance for growth and connection.

For more blogs on this topic visit:

How to Come Out as an LGBTQA Adult

Understanding Mental Health Challenges of LGBTQ+

5 Tips for Coming Out to Family During Thanksgiving