This Christmas has been different for everybody in some way or another due to the pandemic. It hasn’t been easy, and we have all had to make do, often with lost loved ones, not knowing that last Christmas would be the last Christmas for many of those loved ones. I thought long and hard about writing about my experience for months. Still, I feel it’s vital for me to do for me to work through a personal battle and to let other LGBTQ+ people know when lightning strikes, it doesn’t have to strike again, and that life can be excellent and fun once more. Our lives as LGBTQ+ people can be complicated. We face social issues that are often unexplainable for ourselves and that many won’t understand. Problems with our bodies and the need to conform within our own communities whilst battling the voice that tells you to be unique and loyal to yourself are common themes across many other cultures, communities and identities.

Every Christmas, thousands of LGBTQ+ children & adults face a challenging period. It’s the time of year where you may come into contact with people who hold views that slight the very person that you are. You perhaps spend all year becoming more and more comfortable with your identity and then this dreaded season comes along, you have nowhere to turn. Your immediate family don’t understand your upset or brush off the offensive remarks or actions as merely being ‘banter’ or ‘eccentric’. It can be extremely damaging to your mental health and can make you lose faith in family members. That is the reality of being LGBTQ+ at Christmas for thousands of children & adults across this country. This is just one example of the many struggles our community can face within our families at Christmas.

This year my Christmas was immensely different. For the most part, my Christmases as a teen were pleasant if not sometimes chaotic. They often had an undercurrent of the familial problems we had that were often ignored for a couple of days with hope for renewal that never arrived in the new year. My Christmas was different not because of the pandemic but because this was the year where I was kicked out of my family home. I’m half lucky. The fact I was gay was never really discussed in my family as a problem necessarily (although regular homophobic comments were accepted and never challenged.) Coincidentally, the very issue was almost the elephant in the room.

For years as a young child/teen, it was ‘you’ll have a girlfriend one day.’ I would laugh — yeah, right! After I ‘came out’ (I hate that term — we have to do it every day) there was nothing. ‘You’ll have a boyfriend one day’ (I wish) never materialised, and the idea of me ever having a relationship was never discussed. I’ve always been jealous of my friends who have magnificent & beautiful relationships with their parents; the one who tells them everything. Like Rory Gilmore from the popular series Gilmore Girls — that sticks out to me. Her relationship with her mother was beautiful, flawed, but confidently long-lasting and intimate. I’ve never had that — I’m at peace with that now and always have had strained familial relationships. Feeling lonely is one thing, but being gay and feeling lonely is one of those unexplainable feelings that I mentioned above. It’s not that I’m lonely because I don’t have people to talk to — it’s that I don’t have what others have/have had, it’s the fact that I know I will never have that now. I’m content with that because I’m not longing for the past because it was never great.

In June this year, I was kicked out of my family home after a parent’s partner called me every homophobic slur under the sun and physically attacked me. I was left physically and mentally bruised. I almost knew this would happen. They never liked me but lived with us. I was different. Said parent chose them over me, and I was out. I had a good friend who has become one of my best friends who helped me out and who I lived with for two months before moving out on my own. This was the first time living without a parent. I was scared, unprepared; this wasn’t how I had planned for life to pan out. This year, my Christmas was spent with one of the loveliest people in my life. A constant saying within the LGBTQ+ community is that we’re lucky because we get to pick & choose our families. Growing up as a teen was incredibly lonely, confusing and mentally traumatic. I can’t believe the person I was or how I felt. I’m in a much better place now and whilst I cringe at ‘everything happens for a reason’, on this occasion, I believe that to be true. My future will be better for escaping a toxic environment that ensued for years but was exacerbated by a parent and their new partner.

This was important for me to write. I’m an incredibly open individual, I talk about my feelings, my emotions, and my troubles apart from this. I had to change that because I know that I found it useful for reading personal accounts like this about others. Being LGBTQ+ is hard, beautiful, challenging, but exciting. We have the best bars & clubs, we make sports groups/clubs all the more fun, and we love & cherish our friendships so hard.

Growing up, I was hesitant, anxious, and unwilling in life while being ambitious and confident with a fire in my belly to succeed. Never before, have I felt like I do now. I want to live, experience everything that there is to experience and achieve. I’m still struggling. I don’t know when I’ll be ok, and I feel a great sense of betrayal and pain, but I know that I want life to be great and for now, that’s good enough for me.

22, Labour & Co-Operative Councillor, work in Education and NHS.