Healthy Communication for the Holidays: Audio Recap & Resource List

ICYMI: PFLAG Sandy Springs hosted “Healthy Communication for the Holidays” earlier in December to share important tips on how to build upon family relationships over a holiday season. For LGBTQIA+ youth, adults, and allies, this can be a tricky conversation. We had a wonderful meeting and are so pleased to have been able to provide support from our esteemed panel of experts.

To hear it for the first time or get a recap, we’ve provided you a list of resources for everything you need to know below. In case you have any more questions for us or our speakers, please feel free to contact us.

Healthy Extended Family Communication: 

For the Holidays and Beyond

Dec 16, 2020

Find and follow our speakers
Abeke “Kay” Baker
Danny Cortez;;
Kay Bruner
Justin Lee
(scroll down for additional resources)

Podcast version of the seminar:

(scroll down for selected notes from the event)

Join PFLAG Sandy Springs Group (Private group on Facebook):

Additional resources


Communication strategies

Political Communication Challenges

Understanding Christian Challenges to Support

  • Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay – vs. – Christian Debate by Justin Lee
  • Be Not Afraid” a PFLAG publication. Learn how to address your own discomfort when it comes to LGBTQ issues in the context of your religious beliefs, how you can become a straight ally, and small but important steps you can take to express your support for the gay community.
  • For the Bible Tells Me So An exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the U.S. and how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to stigmatize the gay community.
  • The Bible and the Transgender Experience by Linda Tatro Herzer A short book about gender non conforming biblical characters and how the Bible can be read as affirming trans identities.
  • Why I Changed My Mind by Danny Cortez. A message to his conservative church on becoming affirming in his theology
  • Queer virtue by The Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman A book by an episcopal priest who is a queer woman, discussing how queer individuals inherantly embody many traditionally-held Christian values
  • Relational Guide for Clergy, by Danny Cortez. A manual for helping Christian faith leaders move their churches towards LGBTQ+ inclusion
  • Faith In Our Families” PFLAG publication

Cultural/Race specific challenges

When your family members are interested in getting educated:

Highlights from the speakers

Abeke (Kay) Baker:

*Start at communicating with your child to find out their preferences and needs in their relationships with extended family members. 

*Even as adults, we don’t know everything.  Ask the youth, “Can you tell me how that experience was for you?”

*At home, make sure if you are inviting family in, your child has a safe space to get away and take a break if they need it.

*When you go to visit family, talk before you go and make a plan with your child about how they will cope. Maybe going to the car for a while, going for a walk, putting on their airpods and taking a music break

*You are the expert for your child, and your child is the expert for themself.

*Sometimes relatives are not stuck but stagnant. You may need to allow time before the child can have a healthy relationship with them on their own.

*You may develop different expectations for different family members “to give them some grace for growth within [a] time span.”

*With growing family members, share reading materials, documentaries, and biopics.

*If they are seeking out information on their own and asking you questions to learn, then you know they are genuinely on a path of learning, not just saying they are.

*Pull family aside and let them know you expect respect for your child

Danny Cortez:

*To prepare to talk with a conservative family member, I ask myself, “Is there already a level of trust I have built?”  I want to be sure we have laid a good foundation first.  It’s hard to pay attention to someone you perceive as an enemy. So a good way to do this is to ask,  “How are you doing?” and really care and be interested in their answer.

*Before we can have a healthy dialogue, there has to be healthy relationships. So our focus needs to be on the deeper relationship, their trust.  Does this person know I actually care about them? Once they know I do, it creates a safety in communication.

*Is there something we can agree on?  In those places of agreement we can enter into a conversation.We can then move one notch at a time.

*When it comes to families, patriarchy is a posture of non-listening. The person in power can demand that everyone keep things calm and predictable. But sometimes when pain is communicated, things can get messy really quickly. If there’s a differential in power, that specifically needs to be addressed.

Kay Bruner:

*Boundaries: What’s OK with me and what’s not OK with me?
*We need to use our emotions as signals, listening to our bodies in order to decide where our boundaries should be.

*A lot of time we’ve been trained out of recognizing our own emotions, so it takes practice.

*To communicate boundaries: Take it slow  Be simple. Be as straightforward as possible.  Be as brief as possible. 

*Sometimes, you can just say simply, “I see it differently,” or “I’ve got a different viewpoint on that.” 

*What you don’t have to do when setting a boundary:  JADE–Justify, argue, defend, explain 

*Our boundaries do not control what other people do

*If our boundaries mean we are no longer in relationship with extended family, then it is important to find other support

Justin Lee:  

*You can’t argue anyone into changing their mind

*It’s most important to listen and to share stories.  

*Listen to the person you disagree with and reflect back their understanding to get them to a place where they’re more likely to listen to you.

*It’s very tempting to try to argue about their faith. This will not endear you to them and is not effective in getting them to change their minds.

*A person must be emotionally ready to change their views.  To get them to that place emotionally ask them about their journey to get to their opinion–not what they believe, but how they came to believe it. Ask as much about their story as possible. In doing this you are shifting the conversation away from arguing to talking about human beings and our personal experiences.

*When you’ve listened, then share your or your child’s story with them.

*Their change comes in these steps: 1. Humanizing (seeing this as about people, not just ideas) 2. Sympathizing (really seeing the experience of other people) 3. Empathizing (what would it feel like to be them?) 4. cognitive dissonance (people are feeling this way because of stuff that I believe; what do I do with that?)

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