How To Be The Estranged Gay Kid This Holiday Season

Not everyone goes home for the holidays; here are some tips to for gay kids who are estranged from their families this season.

Get acquainted with Motown classics

When you’re gay and not speaking to your parents, the holidays are the perfect time to brush up on lip-syncing your favorite Motown classics. Wrap yourself in a shawl or fluffy blanket, pour yourself a drink and cry while doing a little two-step to The Manhattans — “Just the Lonely Talking Again.” ‘Cause when that lonely gets to talkin’, oh honey! YOU’RE IN DANGER.

Put that English degree to use and write a monologue for your one woman show where you play your mother and yourself

With “Misty Blue” playing in the background, tearfully tell your mother that you were afraid that you would grow up to become her, and were horrified when you noticed similar traits in yourself as an adult. Make sure to recoil hard when she (you) inevitably slaps you (you) in the face. Gasp, hand to cheek, head flung over your shoulder. Get one of those infamous Olivia Pope lips quivers going and let a thug tear roll to really seal the deal.

Seek comfort from your also estranged ex-lover

She’s hot, she’s free, and she’s in your immediate area according to Tinder. That’s why you always call her Ol Reliable (Until It Counts): your ex! She’s a dyke too so she’s bound to understand the pain that comes from not being close to the people you were closest to for the first 17 years of your life! Spend the evening having a deeply intimate conversation and even deeper sex that’ll leave you both wondering why you broke up. When it’s time for her to leave, you’ll remember!

Do anything and then burst into tears

Peruse a dead gas station looking for snacks and cry near the hot Cheetos. Cry in the car listening to Motown. Cry alone in your apartment listening to Motown. Cry into that underseasoned macaroni at Friendsgiving. Crying isn’t weak, it’s not ugly, it’s not just for children. Let those tears roll, you look cute, I got you.

Do anything and laugh

Think about how your aunts and uncles all unfriended you on Facebook when you started posting gay stuff and LAUGH laugh LAugH! Laugh at a hilariously bad lesbian drama, laugh at your monologue and your tear bedecked face. There’s something about laughing: the forced grin, the way it urges you to take in more breath, more space, more of all the world has to offer. Pull it in to push it out with each laugh. Laughing will make you feel better, if not silly, which is not the same is foolish, and that can be a balm itself.

Figure out how many times your favorite Motown hit has been sampled in hip hop

The answer is probably far more than you thought!

Practice EDMR with your dog

During EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy, sessions, you relive traumatic or triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements. The therapist (your dog) is bound to pay attention for at least a little bit and then will probably violate some HIPAA rules during the session. How can your dog direct your eye movements? The same way you direct hers. Open your third eye and trust the process, my love.

Remember that family is a societal construct that is NOT defined by blood or law

A lot has been said over the years about chosen family, especially for those of us that identify as LGBTQ. It can’t be stressed enough that whoever you love and loves you makes up a family; mutual support and sustained respect determine who you can allow into the most intimate parts of yourself. If you want to spend time with those people, go ahead. If you want to spend time alone reflecting and meditating on the lives that have made you who you are, that works as well. Whatever you do remind yourself that the pain you’ve endured and the people that caused it don’t have the authority to define the life you’ll lead.

Play “they’re white?!?” with famous singers from the past

Jon B? Certified Caucasian. Bobby Caldwell? Somehow even whiter. You’ve known Michael McDonald was white for years but goddamnit, how?! Spend time wondering how people can have soul but zero melanin. The deeper you go the more you’ll forget that you haven’t spoken to your father in a year! (Teena Marie is also white.)

Listen to your favorite podcast while eating the feast you made for one

Those chunky headphones will come in handy as they simulate the warmth of human touch this holiday season. Can’t hug a relative, hug yourself and laugh while Kid Fury and Crissle regale you with stories of celebrities you didn’t even know existed. Here is where laughing steps in again to force you into happiness. What Hot Tops pun will Kid Fury have this week? It’s sure to be so good that you won’t care if your neighbors can hear the sound of your solo laugh echoing throughout the kitchen.

Motown Comes In Again

Put on “I Choose You” by Willie Hutch and repeat after me:

I choose myself I choose myself I choose myself

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Dani Janae is a poet and writer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. When she's not writing love poems for unavailable women, she's watching horror movies, hanging with her tarantula, and eating figs. Follow Dani Janae on Twitter and on Instagram.

danijanae has written 157 articles for us.


  1. Having grown up with a loving family in Detroit, I am both horrified by these suggestions (and the need for them) and gratified that Motown is getting some freaking respect. Hope everyone’s gonna be ok.
    Dani! Do you have any favorite happy Motown songs?

  2. My mom passed in October of young onset Alzheimer’s. Her family blames my sister and I (we were her primary caregivers for the last 6 years, starting when I was 25) and our brother decided to side with them. Our dad died when we were kids so now it’s just my sister and I. And because sometimes the world is good, my supportive, loving, amazing wife. That is my family now. Blood means nothing. You have to work to be family. My sister and I worked so hard for so long, and we still lost our best friend. Anyway, this season is a little bit the worst. If you have family who loves you (blood or not), make sure they know you love them too! Tell them every freaking day!

  3. I was *just* thinking about Teena Marie’s “Lovergirl” this morning (and now it’s definitely sticking in my head all day!) so that’s interesting

  4. Another thing to do – feel really grateful that Dani Janae is here writing beautiful, hilarious, heart breaking, heart healing work for Autostraddle! Thanks for being here <3

  5. Can I just rant off topic for a sec? I need to vent… My parents are super accepting of the gay thing. It all of the other stuff they suck at. My mom is retiring, and she had this little get together at work. Yesterday evening my brother guilt tripped me in coming. Then my mom called and said “I love when you wear this/do your hair like this/wear your make-up like this” 4 times in a row. Not a suggestion. So this morning I went to buy a new skirt and a gift. Canceled my appointment with my social worker. Spent a lot of time on hair and make-up. Put on spanx. Felt like shit, because I have chronic depression. Get a flare up on my eating disorder. Oh and my mom told everybody I’m still at my old job, not being at home and depressed for a few years already.

    So I had to pretend I was doing okay for an afternoon and evening. And my brother doesn’t ask me how I’m doing he just keeps asking when I’m going back to work and what I want to do next. I’m struggling with basic self care bro, work is not really in the picture. Oh and when he dropped me off he said I should get my own car because he doesn’t want to pick me up all the time. I cannot afford a car nor drive it most of the time because of meds.

    Anyway I really needed to vent. Ignore spelling mistakes please I’m very tired. Next week we can do it all over again for christmas!

      • Thanks! The stupid thing is I actually enjoy spending time with my family. And it’s good for me to get out of my comfort zone every now and then, leaving the house and stuff. But not this forcefull. And everybody just ignoring my crappy mental health, it’s a lot.

  6. Thanks for this. Much better than my usual plan of crying myself to sleep. Though I’ll probably do that to. For variety.

  7. Love everything about the tone here

    🎶🎶queer gift exchanges organized via spreadsheet are just not going to help me forget I’ll never see my mother again 🎶🎶

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