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The holiday period is often chalked up as a particularly difficult time of the year for the LGBTQ+ community. Data has shown that many of us are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, compared to non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, and this can be amplified during the festive season. For those that celebrate Christmas or spend time at home at the end of the year, it can be particularly challenging for LGBTQ+ individuals, especially the youth, that are closeted and unable to be their authentic selves.

Finding a space to belong in is no easy feat, but as the community continues to be bold and innovative, LGBTQ+ creators and Allies are spearheading the way to create safe celebratory spaces for the community to share online. Julie Blake is an avid TikToker and creates joyful content including her sons. What began as a pass time during lockdown became an opportunity to bond with her sons, Evan and Justin, while sharing lighthearted content with the internet. In the lead up to Christmas, the family have regularly been posting upbeat daily videos showing the sons counting down to Christmas. For Julie, including her songs, especially her young gay son Evan, has been important to showcasing a positive LGBTQ+ family dynamic. “[It’s important for] LGBTQ + youth to see a healthy relationship of an older gay child turning into an adult,” Julie told GAY TIMES.

Alongside their organic family interactions, the TikTok creator understands the importance of sharing holiday content that can be universally enjoyed by viewers. The family have been posted videos in the lead up to Christmas since the start of December. Reflecting on the experience, Julie has received an influx of messages from LGBTQ+ teens and older thanking the creator for showing Evan unapologetically being himself. “I’ve honestly cried reading messages and watching videos of people telling me they wish they had a mother like me,” she says. “They tell me to continue making videos because it’s the happiness they want to see in the world during Christmas”.

By seeing another LGBTQ+ family celebrate, it brings a feeling of happiness and reassures them its okay to be happy and celebrate Christmas

With the holiday period around the corner, Julie has a message to share for fellow Allies and parents of LGBTQ+ children: “Listen to them, support them, allow them to be their true selves with you. They need to feel supported and loved. That is the most important thing a parent can do.” Looking ahead, Julie hopes her videos capture how LGBTQ+ individuals are reclaiming the holiday period. “By seeing another LGBTQ+ family celebrate, it brings a feeling of happiness and reassures them its okay to be happy and celebrate Christmas,” she explains. “There has previously been a lack of positive representation and people are now creating a space for and making more content celebrating Christmas.”

Elliot Douglas and Shiraz Dejbakhsh are members of the GAY TIMES TikTok collective GT133. Both have shared experiences when it comes to the holidays. Elliot recently took to the GAY TIMES TikTok account to discuss the importance of addressing why the holidays can be difficult for the community. “As someone who is LGBTQ+ I have experienced Christmas being a difficult time of the year because of my identity. It used to be really tough for me and I can understand a lot of younger queer folk might be going through the same thing now as what I was going through as a teen/young adult,” he explains, reflecting on his video. “I wanted to come from a place of hope that it does get easier and better and Christmas won’t always be a difficult holiday to get through”.

As media rightfully spotlights how difficult the holidays can be for the LGBTQ+ community, Elliot is hopeful for a diverse scope of representation to capture how individuals experience the festive period. “It’s important to have a variety of content around Christmas, whether its content that addresses the difficulty of the holidays but also works to show it in a positive light or content just showing people having a good time with their partners, families, friends,” he tells GAY TIMES. “For LGBTQ+ youth to see older gay couples or trans folk with their families can give hope to someone in a difficult place. In terms of representation of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s good for those that are outside of the community to see us enjoying ourselves too”.

@gaytimesThe holiday season isn’t always a great time for LGBTQ+ folks. @evolutionofelliot explains why ❤️ ##GT133 ##gay ##lesbian ##gaychristmas ##lgbtqchristmas♬ original sound – GAY TIMES

As content creators continue to maintain agency and control over their work, they are able to express themselves in all mediums. Shiraz often uses their TikTok account as an outlet based on shared experiences all-year round. A recent video of theirs, described as a “not realistic Christmas list, went viral. The recent video showed the TikTokers virtual “wishlist” which included topics such as top surgery, a non-homophobic family life, and a photo studio. Despite the tongue-in-cheek tone of their video, the young creator is hopeful being transparent about being LGBTQ+ online, especially during the holiday period, will embolden others to be themselves. “It’s good to present the holidays and the Christmas season as a positive time of the year. It’s an opportunity to get together,” they tell GAY TIMES.

Many LGBTQ+ people do not have the opportunity to spend the festive period with their biological family, which can make the end of the year especially difficult. Agreeing, Shiraz explains how a handful of their LGBTQ+ friends choose to spend time with their chosen family to celebrate together. “A few of my friends don’t see their families and they’re LGBTQ+ so they choose to spend their Christmas with their chosen family and I think that’s just as good,” says Shiraz. “It can be a difficult time of the year, but it can also be an opportunity to make your own rules and make your own event”.

With the internet becoming a powerful tool of community and shared experiences, the TikTok star elaborates on how queertok and being openly visible has allowed LGBTQ+ youth to flourish online. “Anything you do online is so much easier. Coming out online is easier. You can reach so many people that are okay with you,” they respond over the phone. Taking the example of a small town, the content creator outlines how you’re more likely to have a shared commonality with someone online than someone in real life. “I, for example, realised in lockdown, that I have a particular style and I thought that everyone dressed like this, but actually, it was just TikTok,” they laugh. “When I went into the real world, everyone was “normal” again. So, I think being online, you can create your own little niche with your FYP, your online friends and your mutuals. I definitely think we’re becoming more confident”.

The significance of accessible online spaces cannot be overstated. In recent years LGBTQ+ people have found solace in social media apps and websites to discover their identity. While concerns around how social media can impact the mental health of younger viewers, new apps, like TikTok, have changed the game with increasingly positive content. LGBTQ+ inclusivity in media as a whole has continued to shift. From same-sex Christmas adverts to LGBTQ+ friendly trends online with users sharing playful hashtags online to create skits and humorous videos, online creators are contributing to space LGBTQ+ youth and creatives can safely navigate in the holiday period. Not everyone is fortunate to experience acceptance in a physical space, which is why the few virtual havens available online are crucial pockets of the internet allowing the LGBTQ+ community to find a festive escape.

As we near the end of December, GAY TIMES would like to remind readers to consult these LGBTQ+ friendly services for mental health support if they are struggling.