“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is one of the most heartwarming Christmas songs. The haunting music and depth of the lyrics speak volumes. As gay guys we often laugh at the pun – but can we really make the yuletide “gay”?

The holidays pose many unique challenges for gay men who are often forced to make compromises due to their sexual orientation. Couples may be faced with homophobic parents or family members that place undue burdens upon them. Singles often feel like an “outcast” for showing up to family gatherings alone when their siblings may be married with children. Oftentimes a significant other may not be welcome to attend even when siblings are allowed to bring their dates. Further, if you’re not out to your family, you may be forced to dance around uncomfortable questions or merely keep silent about various aspects of your life. There are no easy answers and only you can decide when to come out or confront your family about these issues; however, the holidays may not be the best time to do so. These internal and external conflicts cause a lot of stress and can lead to isolation and depression.

Fortunately there are some things you can do:

Stay connected – Keep in close contact with your friends and partner even if they are not physically with you. Debrief with them and try to laugh and find humor in the situation. Laughter relieves tension.

Set realistic expectations – Prepare yourself for any family tensions that might arise. How can you remain detached and keep your spirits high? Remember- you can’t change anyone.

Be kind to yourself – Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Do things that bring you pleasure – listen to music or go for a walk. Do whatever makes you feel good.

Volunteer to help those in need – You may decide to opt out of a family gathering and do something to help others. You can avoid potential family conflicts and feel good about helping others too.

Seek support – If you find that you are depressed or your situation is too hard to manage on your own, seek professional help. Find out if your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where you can discuss your situation with a Counselor. You can also call your insurance company and ask to be connected to Behavioral Health to request therapy referrals. Your local GLBT Community Center is another good resource for support. You can also find supportive resources at: http://www.lifesolutionsforgaymen.com/category/resources

Author's Bio: 

Paul Novello, LCSW is a licensed Therapist and Life Coach who has been practicing in New York City and Long Island for over fifteen years.

Paul has always been passionate about personal growth and development, and he loves to explore the possibilities! He enjoys inspiring others to discover their true selves, reach for their goals and dreams and live the life they truly desire. Paul created and developed Life Solutions for Gay Men as a resource to support gay men in the achievement of their personal and professional success. Additionally, Paul has an extensive background in the performing arts and has studied and applied various techniques throughout the years including Meditation, Progressive Relaxation, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and the Alexander Technique.