Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. Yet many dread spending time with their family during Christmas because of damaged relationships or uncertainty on how to interact. This is common with LGBT+ people and their families.
Yet as a family member of your LGBT+ love one, God has given you the holiday season as yet another opportunity to share the love and message of Jesus with them. Here are a few tips from our team on how to show love to your LGBT+ loved one (and their partner) during the Christmas season.
1. Before interacting, assess your loved one’s situation.
How “out” is your loved one with the family members attending your Christmas celebration? Are there people attending to whom they haven’t come out? These are important to know so you don’t accidentally “out” them. If they are not “out,” don’t guess or say “I suspected.” Wait for them to open up. If they are “out,” don’t feel you have to avoid the topic of their sexuality — but also don’t make it the focus of every conversation with them.
2. Assure your LGBT+ loved one that your relationship is a safe place for them.
This assurance may be in words or simply in actions. Your LGBT+ loved ones are watching how you interact with others to gauge how you will interact with them. Show by example that you love and respect others even if they have different beliefs or experiences. If you feel it is appropriate, you can also share with your loved one, “I know sometimes our family can be judgmental about politics, religion, sexuality, and other topics. I want to be someone who respects other people’s beliefs. I always want to love my family even when I disagree with them. My family is my family. No matter what.” More than anything, be clear about both your beliefs and your gracious posture.
3. Listening speaks louder than speaking.
Don’t feel obligated to share all of your thoughts on life in one holiday visit. Start building trust, showing you care by listening to them — and don’t stop once the new year comes around or relatives return home. Questions spur conversation. Ask about their partner (if they are dating), what challenges they have faced this year, or how their faith intersects with their sexuality/gender (if they profess to be Christian). If you are in a large group, ask more safe questions like about their job, school, or what they are looking forward to in the coming year.
4. Pray, but don’t tell your love one that you are praying for them.
Prayer is powerful — not only because God answers prayers, but also because it deepen our passion and love for those we are praying for. If you need on how to pray for LGBT+ people, download “How to Pray for LGBT+ People” for some ideas.
5. Seek natural ways to spend time with your LGBT loved one.
Ask them to help you cook, fix the Christmas lights, or run an errand. Many times, everyday tasks offer the greatest opportunity to spend time together and strengthen relationships.
6. Include their partner in the festivities (if they are dating).
If your LGBT+ loved one has a partner, God has given you the privilege of sharing the love and message of Jesus with yet another person. By inviting them, you gain trust with both your loved one and their partner. If their partner is not able to make it, ask your loved one about them.
Want more tips? Check out our free digital resource, 32 Tips for Relational Effectiveness.
Josh has an M.A. in Biblical Literature, and his greatest passion is help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.
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