BRINGING HOME BEAUX
MICHAEL B. WILLIAMS
There comes a point in almost every serious relationship where we take the all too important step of introducing our Beaux to our family. Since we’ve somehow found ourselves at the time of year when the holidays are upon us, we're spending this month’s Love and Relationships exploring ways we can spend this season with both our families and our Beauxs with minimal conflict and zero confusion. While many of us have families that are as accepting as they are welcoming, others hail from families that take issue with the fact that they, through relation, are connected to someone who identifies as being same gender loving; and because of how some of our families perceive our “lifestyle”, we choose to stay as far away from home as possible to avoid conflict. Being home for the holidays can add multiple layers of anxiety and unspoken pressures as we endure uncomfortable conversations about religion, engage in heated political debates, and sidestep conversations that are as triggering as they are pointless. But still, its the time of year when we make an extra effort to set aside petty differences to get along (and together) with our families to celebrate the joys of life; and this year we’re going to do all of that while simultaneously bringing home Beaux.
There are couples who spend the holidays with their respective families while others are fortunate enough to be invited to each other’s family celebration. There are some pretty valid reasons for why couples opt to spend the holidays with their families without their Beaux. It could be the result of one partner not rocking with the other’s family, so separate holidays, or holidays with minimal family contact might become a tradition rooted in avoiding unnecessary friction. They could be experiencing a type of discordance where one partner’s family is accepting while the other’s family is either ignorant to, or not accepting of their SGL, son, brother, uncle or cousin. Separate holidays are almost a must in these instances, as there’s nothing worse than aggravating an already complicated situation by introducing a Beaux who’s not welcomed. So, what do we do, when we want to spend the holiday with him and them?
Certainty might not be something we do, but it is the first thing we need to establish before bringing Beaux home. We have to be certain that he’s going to be around for the long haul (because let’s face it, many of us have been guilty of mistaking a heaux for a Beaux), and that our family will not only embrace him but embrace us, as well. What's important here is knowing if our relationship with our Beaux has matured enough to even consider introducing him to our family. Have we been with him for a substantial amount of time? What is a substantial amount of time? Is our relationship with him more casual than it is formal, or vice versa? Are we exclusive? Have we met his family? Did our family know about him prior to the holiday, or will this be their first time ever hearing about him? We should also examine our own track record because again, many of us have fallen short of the glory of God by inadvertently introducing our families a the heaux of holidays past.
Andrew Grant gave us a word with his quote, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression“. Regardless of the situation, our body language, appearance, and demeanor are generally evaluated within the first three seconds of a first encounter. Such, its extremely important that our family’s first impression of our Beaux is as impeccable as possible. This is especially important when we consider that we might be introducing our Beaux to his future in-laws. There are many instances where the introduction goes great, while other instances demonstrate a need to keep the two as far away from each other as humanly possible. We should first discuss the pending introduction of our Beaux to our family with our family. A good suggestion would be for us to consciously take an inventory of the family members who’ll be present to decide whether or not their personalities will mold with, or clash against the personality of our Beaux.
We want things to go smoothly, so we’ve got to plan accordingly, and planning accordingly means that we’ll forewarn our Beaux about our nana, who, despite her awareness of our Beaux joining us for the holidays, well still refer to him as our “special friend”. We’ll allow it for now because she’s 86, isn’t getting any younger, and makes the best sweet potato pie this (or any) side of the Mississippi. Planning accordingly means informing our Beaux about our overly religious aunt Ruby, slightly homophobic cousin Drae, and our annoying (but well-intentioned ) cousin Quan, who’s looked up to us since we were 15 and he was 10. We must also be mindful to include our Beaux in these conversations because we want to be able to introduce him with confidence and ensure that he doesn’t find himself in a situation where he’s less than prepared. This could also be considered as we create our inventory, as we need to make sure that he feels comfortable because meeting any family, especially ours, is a major step.
The endgame to any of this is for us to provide our family with an opportunity to normalize our kind of love. We want our families to understand that our relationship with our Beaux is just as “normal” and significant as our sister’s relationship with her future husband is. Such, we should be open to engaging in conversations about (and not around) the obvious, which is that we are two men who are out and in love in a society that still views SGL men of color as fodder. There might be questions, and that’s okay because answering these questions can cultivate a safe space of understanding. One of the biggest threats to the SGL relationship is ignorance, so bringing home Beaux is the perfect opportunity for us to show our families that our love is just as real, as valid and as genuine as anyone else’s. We can achieve this by expressing the reasons why we love him, like the time he took care of us when we were sick, or how he always has our best interest in mind. We can use this opportunity to let them know just why he’s earned not only earned a place with you, but with them as well.
A sure-fire way to win your relatives over is to walk in with a gift. Gifts are always a good way to take the edge off, so we strongly suggest not arriving empty-handed. Who doesn't like a nice gift? We want to slowly transition into our family, and nothing spells smooth transition like a well planned, well thought out coffee mug or flask bearing the letters of your father’s Greek letter organization or something with the symbol of his favorite sports team. If nothing else, a gift helps to set the mood and will let our family know that our Beaux wants to be there and is excited to be included. Now, of course, he’s not going to know what our mother’s favorite things are, so we’ll either tell him or buy the gift ourselves and let him sign his name on it. This will show our parents that our Beaux is the thoughtful gent we’ve painted him to be, and a gift will only make him look better in their eyes.
Outside of gift giving, we want to make sure that our Beaux is as well versed in the interest of our family members as possible. Such, its going to be our job to educate him about their likes, dislikes and everything in between. Here we might find the shared interests he has with certain members of our family, which will only make them love him even more. In the most advanced of cases (assuming that our Beaux is in it to win it), we suggest starting a tradition to solidify his place. This can range anywhere between starting an ugly sweater contest or a friendly game of charades, whatever it might be, we want it to have an impact.
Bringing home Beaux is going to be a huge step for us. While the holidays can be an awkward time for newer couples, and our best bet is to wait until our relationships reach the healthy year mark before we execute an official holiday meeting. However, the more established couple might find that this is the perfect time to piece together to of the most important parts of their lives. Remember that we’ve got to be certain we’re introducing our family to a long-term commitment and not some rando we met at a bar a few weeks back, that we groom him to ensure his first impression is on point and that he doesn’t show up empty-handed. If our families love us and we love him, odds are, they will grow to love him too! The goal of the holidays is to bring the people we love together and bringing home Beaux allows us to introduce him to the ones who share the same blood we have in our veins just as much as it allows them to meet that man who keeps that blood pumping to and through our gushy little hearts.
Happy Holidays, Beaux