This time of year, even if you genuinely love and enjoy your family, tensions run high. Your family is going to get on your nerves, and you're going to want to respond in some way other than just drinking all the whiskey and hiding out in the corner. This can be especially true if you’re nervous about hanging out with people who don’t necessarily accept you for who you are.
Who better to ask about navigating tricky holiday family situations than an experienced drag queen? This week, Jenna Skyy, a Dallas native and 2014’s Miss Gay USofA, offers candid suggestions on everything from the perfect Christmas look to dealing with the nosiest of nosy relatives.
What's your biggest piece of advice for people heading home for the holidays who don't like or don't feel safe around their families?
Kill them with kindness! I was raised to be the kind of person people wanted to be around. I spent a good deal of my life being "the son," "the brother," "the nephew," "the grandson," "the 'friend'"... because it would make people happy, or better yet, comfortable. My oldest brother told me before Christmas one year that the only person he wanted me to be around him was me. So I dropped the act and just started being the good person I was raised to be.
Instead of acting like this person I thought people wanted me to be, I just showed them that I AM me. I'm a good person. I'm respectful and caring ... I'm a product of my family and my upbringing and if there's something about me that makes them uncomfortable, I'm not going be the ass that rubs it in. I'm going to show them that despite their "beliefs" or "views," we can still be decent to one another ... and if they're good people too, they'll show you the same courtesy and respect and the time spent with family will be less about the "elephant in the room" but about what's most important ... being home with your family. However, if you're an asshole ... none of this matters as this question is probably about you ... not for you.
What is holiday-appropriate attire? Is it OK for me to wear pajamas to my family Christmas? Because, you know, eatin' pants.
In or out of drag, I still like to be the best dressed person at a family function. And no [disrespect] to my family, but I could wear pajamas and still succeed. HA! Like any event, the attire is kind of spelled out. If you're having dinner at home but like my family the dinner is at 1 p.m. ... dress casual and comfortable. If your family is having the place settings and the big table at 7 p.m., put on something a little nicer. If you're Highland Park [fish], you better be in brands and bling for the red carpet up to the front door.
What do you do when your family starts talking politics? Ignore or engage with no mercy?
Get more alcohol. Seriously though, I'm not very political. Politics to me seem to be one extreme over another. It's like masculine or feminine, gay or straight, black or white ... it's too two-dimensional for me. I don't act masculine because I prefer to BE intelligent ... I only act feminine when there's a spotlight ... and a CHECK! I may be gay, but I've been with women ... well a woman. And clearly I find women attractive. I do my best to portray the very best attributes of attractive women. And I live life in color ... HD. So when politics come up and it's one idea versus the next, I like to be the one challenging idiocy more than political views. I'm good at that. This drag queen has a master's degree.
What should a classy, grown-ass adult bring to the holiday festivities? (Other than enough booze to keep themselves sane.)
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Oh ... well you eliminated my response in your parenthesis ... just kidding. I'm a classy, grown-ass adult and this should be common sense. Is the meal prepared? Is it pot luck? That's the first indicator. The second indicator is the response from the host when you do the classy, grown-ass adult and courteous thing and say, "Is there anything I can do or bring?" Usually, the things that are needed are the things that require a special trip ... and that's usually alcohol. A bottle of wine is always good, and if it's not needed, it doesn't spoil ... it actually improves with time and it's a nice gesture. Wine though ... and not in a box ... or screw top. Bread is always good too but it's tricky ... bring something fresh and warm and unique. Not packaged rolls. Or ... and this is my favorite next to wine ... a good dessert. Something custom that you can't find anywhere. Make an effort to impress. Having read my previous responses you'll be the nicest, most well-behaved and dressed, smartest person in the room ... and now you slay them with a good glass of wine, warm carbs or a killer one-of-a-kind dessert!
Give us some of your favorite stupid relative questions and perfect responses.
Well up until recently, when asked, "When are you getting married?" I'd respond with, "When it's legal! Badoom-ching!" But it's legal now ... so now I've turned the response to statistics on divorce! HA! No one would ever ask me why I don't have a good job, but for those that do get asked this ... a good response is "I don't have a job, I have a career ... how's your job though? Are the lines long this holiday season? Any new holiday themed shakes this year?"
A question I used to get asked before everyone "knew" was, "When are you going to start having kids?" My response was and still is, "When I grow a uterus." Some other common questions may be about your style or fashion. I have long hair and have been asked when I'm going to cut my hair. I usually redirect to something about their choice of fashion ... like, "As soon as you return your mesh woven belt to 1998," or say something snarky like, "I'm just trying to demonstrate that a man in this family can still GROW hair." A note though: If your response doesn't warrant a hair flip or a "mic drop," don't embarrass yourself further. Take the hit and play the waiting game. They'll expose themselves in their undue fortune and sense of overconfidence! Refer to my response in the first question though before your well-timed counter attack. The response should be laughter and good fun ... not a video on WorldStar.com.