Between the high expectations, the added expense, and the onslaught of social obligations, the “best time of the year” can often be the busiest time of the year. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, complicated family relationships make the holiday season particularly stressful. Spending time with relatives can mean experiencing fears of acceptance, debased identities and the need to bridge ideological divides. For those with family members who are unsupportive or absent, going home on vacation may not be an option at all in the traditional sense.
According to that Trevor Project 2022 National LGBTQ Youth Mental Health Surveynearly two in five LGBTQ+ youth reported living in a community that is somewhat or very intolerant, and less than one in three transgender and non-binary youth found their home gender-affirming. At some point in their lives, some 28% of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
This year, some members of the community are turning to Facebook and a specific Facebook group to find a new “home” for the holidays with a select family. Created in January 2021, Stand In Pride International was originally developed as a resource for LGBTQ+ people to find surrogate relatives for marriages. With 44,700 members and counting, the group has since grown into something much bigger.
Yes, it still helps newly engaged couples find wedding proxies and officiators, but the group now exists more broadly as an incredibly active, always-available virtual support system for LGBTQ+ people around the world. People who need support can find it with the click of a button, and those who want to offer it have a platform to extend the invite. Connections are made in comments, in private messages, on FaceTimes, and sometimes in real life. Now that the holiday season is in full swing, invitations include a seat at a family table.
The group’s founder, Daniel Blevins, says the number of offers that come in during the holiday months makes it now necessary to create pinned posts that serve as designated threads within the group. It’s a good issue, since so many people who join the group do so because they feel isolated, at first, Blevins says, a feeling Blevins says only gets worse during the holidays.
“It can be one of the most difficult times for members of our community to deal with because they no longer have those family traditions that they grew up with and they have to figure out what to do instead,” says Blevins. “So being close to a family meal is something a lot of us take for granted, and having someone just to call or FaceTime can make a huge difference in someone’s life when they literally have no one.”
On December 1st, Blevins created this year’s pinned holiday post. Since then, invitations have come in for all manner of gatherings—from a secular holiday ham dinner to Boxing Day lasagna to a Christmas Eve bowling trip. The range of invitations reflects a truly diverse group, which Blevins says is redefining what family and celebrating the holidays mean in real time, as “people learn that they can build new traditions with their new family members.”