I'm Partially Out of the Closet, And This Is What The Holidays Are Like
The holidays are my favorite time of the year, hands down. I'm that person who starts blasting a holiday playlist starting the day after Thanksgiving, with periodic listens throughout the year just to remind myself what I have to look forward to. I start planning Christmas presents in July. I refer to Christmastime as the most wonderful time of the year unironically, and I'm not even Christian. When I say I love the holidays, I mean it. That being said, sometimes they can get a little awkward. Even if you have the most accepting, progressive relatives in the world, gathering an entire family in one place for more than a few hours at a time is probably going to end with at least a one person sticking their foot in their mouth. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening are significantly higher if you, like me, are out as bisexual to some members of your family, but not to others.
At these family functions, my internal dialogue is racing, and I'm constantly eyeing people with suspicion, worrying about who might spill the beans. Why on earth did you introduce your brother to your ex-girlfriend? Teenage boys are terrible at keeping secrets. Oh god, did you hear your aunt talking to your grandmother about your dating history? Do you need to go intervene? Also, where is the alcohol?
<img alt="funny animated GIF " src="http://media.giphy.com/media/K0cIvGPLvhCh2/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.giphy.com/media/K0cIvGPLvhCh2/giphy.gif"/>As you can imagine, it can get complicated. Everyone's situation is different, but that doesn't mean that we don't have similar experiences. In fact, I'm pretty sure that everyone who's ever been kinda-sorta out over the holidays has these phrases memorized.
1. "I haven't really been on any good dates lately."
<img alt="awkward animated GIF " src="http://media.giphy.com/media/mtZuwyheL1BBe/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.giphy.com/media/mtZuwyheL1BBe/giphy.gif"/>
Yes, grandmother, I'm happily single. It's not even a lie! But my grandmother really doesn't need to know any more than the bare minimum about my dating life. Especially the dates-with-ladies part. Meanwhile, your sister snickering at your discomfort in the background is not making this any easier.
2. "No, I'm not seeing anyone in particular."
<img alt="miley cyrus animated GIF " src="http://media0.giphy.com/media/sjTEF3Gtw8FOw/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media0.giphy.com/media/sjTEF3Gtw8FOw/giphy.gif"/>
Code for: I started seeing someone, but it's way too new to even contemplate coming out of the closet for them. Not even Ellen Page warrants going through the laborious process of coming out to your extended family unless you've been dating for at least a few months. Do you really want to come out and have to explain a recent breakup within weeks of each other?
Okay, Ellen Page might be worth it.
3. "I'm seeing someone, but I'm not sure where it's going yet."
<img alt="nervous animated GIF " src="http://media.giphy.com/media/1hWJX1zzshWgw/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.giphy.com/media/1hWJX1zzshWgw/giphy.gif"/>
So, you met someone you like enough to stick around. Good for you! Now comes the hard part. You feel bad about completely lying about their presence in your life, especially since they feature in the vast majority of your conversations, but maybe it's still not a good time to come out. Vaguely alluding to dating someone, while maintaining a superstitious, don't-want-to-jinx-it front will put well-meaning relatives off for a few months, at least.
4. "Maybe I'll bring them next year!"
<img alt="" src="http://media.tumblr.com/c0569ea4b1d95d1133a9d9c861572681/tumblr_inline_mzk1nwdVfa1qj3ir1.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.tumblr.com/c0569ea4b1d95d1133a9d9c861572681/tumblr_inline_mzk1nwdVfa1qj3ir1.gif"/>
If you've made it this far, you deserve a high five for your careful choice of pronouns. Nobody suspects a thing (hopefully), because third person plural has become your best friend recently. Speaking of best friends...
5. "This is my best friend, _____."
<img alt="art animated GIF " src="http://media.giphy.com/media/SxSNgKTvls5LW/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image"/>
The part of the family that does know you're gay has been clamoring to meet your SO for ages now, and you're finally giving in. But how do you explain to the rest of the family why you brought this random person to your Christmas dinner? The good old "best friend" deception, of course! Girls are assumed to have weirdly homoerotic best friendships anyway. Thanks, Thelma and Louise!
6. "I write about... political issues."
<img alt="sweating animated GIF " src="http://media.giphy.com/media/VB5WwlZIt8eRy/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.giphy.com/media/VB5WwlZIt8eRy/giphy.gif"/>
You can substitute whatever your job does for this one, but if you're involved in a field even tangentially related to LGBT rights, it's always awkward deflecting questions about it. Especially if, say, you're a lifestyle writer who's specifically confirmed in writing, multiple times, that you're like 200% bisexual. ("Super bisexual" just doesn't have the same ring to it as "super gay.") Thankfully, most elderly people aren't going to google their relatives' names, so you should be safe.
People have all kinds of reasons for staying in the closet, and as I said earlier, every situation is different. (Contrary to popular belief, the closet isn't the worst place to be if you think it's necessary; I think most would agree it's better than being thrown out or disowned.) Everyone who's had to navigate the complicated politics of coming out can probably relate to at least a few of these.Images: Giphy (5), gemini-dragon-gifs/Tumblr