When did living in your truth and walking in authenticity equate isolation?
When did living in your truth and walking in authenticity equate alienation?
When did living in your truth and walking in authenticity equate the removal of love, loyalty, and care?
It never did, unless you’re a member of a problematic family structure. The kind of family structure where conservative ideology is held in high regard. Where the family promotes a heteronormative agenda that demands “righteous” love, resulting in children getting stuck in unfulfilling, stifling, stereotypical, and boring ass relationships.
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It’s the holiday season... (insert eye roll and teeth sucking). So what you gon’ do???
Well, you’ve got some options:
1. Spend time with your “bio” family, who may subject you to awkward stares, intrusive questions, and unsolicited advice about how to live your life while ignoring the identity that you rightfully and lovingly embrace.
2. Or, create your own “chosen” family. This family structure may consist of individuals from all walks of life as long as they respect you, celebrate you, challenge you, comfort you, and, most importantly, love you.
Who honors your presence with a genuine warm hug and “Hey Boo!” while looking into your eyes to discern if you’re ok.
Who welcomes your individuality by encouraging you to chase your dreams, love loudly and unapologetically, and be the “different sheep” of the family.
Who welcomes your creativity by supporting your artistic goals, unique endeavors, and offerings of pure authenticity which screams everything that beautifully makes you… you!
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You cannot get a blood transfusion to reassign your biological links, but you can be careful with how and with whom you invest your time especially when your mental and emotional health is at stake. So, it’s ok… you can visit and take a plate from Auntie Darlene’s house since no one cooks that jerk turkey or peach cobbler like she does. Don’t be afraid to spend precious moments with your elders and family members that you do not see often.
There may be an instance when you are asked again about when are you finally getting married and having babies (from a “hetero” perspective), because the bio family member believes that who you are, right now, is just a phase. This conversation could be the catalyst to a dangerous argument; however, it does not have to escalate. Knowing who you are and who supports you determines your level of conflictual engagement with these family members.
It is important to remember that, even if there is tension among your bio family, you are still loved and honored for who you are in the other spaces you create for yourself. No one can take that from you.
Just in case the atmosphere provokes anxiety or ill feelings, there is no need to embrace any negativity as you are not the owner of it, and you will not allow it invade your healthy heart and mind space. In moments like this, you can create a strategy of comfort or escape for yourself by doing the following things:
Have a friend who knows where you are, who you could text an encouraging word of survival or affirmation.
You can excuse yourself to find another room with different family members to engage with.
You could take a break and exit the space for a short walk.
You can choose to permanently leave the event to go home or a predesignated safe space.
You have the authority to activate your agency for your safety.
It’s perfectly fine and expected to invest your time into spaces where you all can laugh, love, and celebrate one another over a good meal, some spirits and Kool-Aid, and karaoke (with a least one Whitney Houston song), while living yo best life and refusing to go back and forth with ANYBODY! If that isn’t with your bio family, consider where your presence will be served better such as hosting a “FriendsGiving Kickback” where everyone celebrates one another, the successes of the year, and vision for the next. Another idea could include volunteering with LGBTQ+ youth who may be without a family and seeking to create community and heal from abandonment and isolation for attempting to live their authentic lives.
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Take the liberty to go where you can make a difference, leave “feeling fulfilled,” and share the love that you’ve received with others who really are in need.
While this world may not be worthy of your beauty and glory, there are those who need to encounter the unbothered, unhindered you who walks in authority, authenticity, and love.
[note: If you are an LGBTQ2IA+ Black, Indigenous and/or person of color, consider joining our online community on Facebook.]
Edited by Dominic Bradley
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White text appears on a green background: "Wherever you are over the holidays... may you be with people who love you as you are." Underneath that is an illustration of a gingerbread house decorated with frosting and various candies.
Johndalyn Armstrong, Chicago native, is passionate about global mental health and holistic healing of humanity both domestically and abroad. She is an active member on the Board of Directors for EDJA Foundation in Uganda, and hosted a 2017 Town Hall for the March for Black Women, Chicago team for the sake of educating, empowering and liberating of the women of Chicago who are of the African Diaspora. But Johndalyn’s heart belongs to the LGBTQ+ community as a member and advocate for the rights and advancement of beautiful people who deserve to live boldly, healthily, and happily anywhere they chose to exist.