If you’re stirred by these author quotes, amble down our archive for more.
“Hey, maybe I’ll learn to sew
Maybe I’ll just lie low
Maybe I’ll hit the bars
Maybe I’ll count the stars until dawn…”
Following the great Post-Election Blocking/Unfollowing/Unfriending of 2016, a lot of folks are left contemplating the difficulty of their existing Thanksgiving and Christmas plans and deciding it’s just not worth it — not this year. At times like these we must defer to the wisdom of spiritual advisor and lifestyle guru Dolly Parton, whose classic holiday tune “Hard Candy Christmas” (quoted above) seems more painfully relevant than ever — especially for all those LGBTQ fans, whose family relationships may have been permanently soured.
As social media lights up with posts from those announcing their intent to stay home for the holidays, an on-looker’s first instinct might be to tell them to suck it up — “blah blah healing, blah blah acceptance, blach battleground states blah” — even as calls to LGBTQ suicide hotlines begin receiving five times their normal volume.
Those who’ve spent years (or even decades) modeling tolerance for the folks back home know better, and deserve a break this year. The idea that a loved one could vote against all your hard-won civil rights in one stroke and still expect you to smile politely over cranberry sauce — all while listening to their elaborate justifications, supported by misinformation they gleaned from the internet — is not only preposterous, it’s the kind of foolhardiness that could be dangerous to one’s mental health to forgive too easily.
Below are a few quotes in support of that option, from authors who have known a thing or two about so-called “family values.” We know now that family isn’t really a noun, it’s a verb. Your family is the network that supports and shelters you when no one else will, and LGBTQ people are lucky to have this function interwoven into their community. This can be the year when the nation’s various black sheep take care of themselves and each other, while also offering care to those who are the hardest hit by last week’s results. That means parties, volunteer work, and yes, even cranberry sauce (this way you stand a chance of actually being able to taste its sweetness).
Maybe you’ll dye your hair, maybe you’ll move somewhere, maybe you’ll drive so far that you’ll lose track. You, you’ll bounce back. #HardCandyChristmas
William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)
“If a man’s character is to be abused, say what you will, there’s nobody like a relative to do the business.”
Andrea Lavinthal, Your So-Called Life: A Guide to Boys, Body Issues, and Other Big-Girl Drama You Thought You Would Have Figured Out by Now (2010)
“Unfortunately, some family members are so psychotic that no matter how hard you try to forge a healthy relationship, nothing will help. Now that you’re an adult, take refuge in the fact that some things are beyond your control. You owe it to yourself to steer clear of people who are harmful to your health.”
Charlotte Brontë, Shirley (1849)
“Your god, sir, is the World. In my eyes, you, too, if not an infidel, are an idolater. I conceive that you ignorantly worship: in all things you appear to me too superstitious. Sir, your god, your great Bel, your fish-tailed Dagon, rises before me as a demon. You, and such as you, have raised him to a throne, put on him a crown, given him a sceptre. Behold how hideously he governs! See him busied at the work he likes best — making marriages. He binds the young to the old, the strong to the imbecile. He stretches out the arm of Mezentius and fetters the dead to the living. In his realm there is hatred — secret hatred: there is disgust — unspoken disgust: there is treachery — family treachery: there is vice — deep, deadly, domestic vice. In his dominions, children grow unloving between parents who have never loved: infants are nursed on deception from their very birth: they are reared in an atmosphere corrupt with lies … All that surrounds him hastens to decay: all declines and degenerates under his sceptre. Your god is a masked Death.”
Marilyn Manson, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell (1998)
“My grandfather had been the ugliest, darkest, foulest, most depraved figure of my childhood, more beast than human, and I had grown up to be him, locked in the basement with my secrets as the rest of the family reveled in the petty and ordinary upstairs.”
Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman (2015)
“They had never been able to sustain fifteen minutes’ conversation with one another without advancing irreconcilable points of view, invigorating in friendships, but in close blood relations producing only uneasy cordiality.”
Salman Rushdie, Joseph Anton: A Memoir (2012)
“People retreated behind their front doors into the hidden zone of their private, family worlds and when outsiders asked how things were they answered, Oh, everything’s going along just fine, not much to report, situation normal. But everyone secretly knew that behind that door things were rarely humdrum. More typically, all hell was breaking loose, as people dealt with their angry fathers, drunken mothers, resentful siblings, mad aunts, lecherous uncles and crumbling grandparents. The family was not the firm foundation upon which society rested, but stood at the dark chaotic heart of everything that ailed us. It was not normal, but surreal; not humdrum, but filled with event; not ordinary, but bizarre.”
G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)
“The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.”
Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby (2013)
“I’d wrestled against the inner voice of my mother, the voice of caution, of duty, of fear of the unknown, the voice that said the world was dangerous and safety was always the first measure and that often confused pleasure with danger, the mother who had, when I’d moved to the city, sent me clippings about young women who were raped and murdered there, who elaborated on obscure perils and injuries that had never happened to her all her life, and who feared mistakes even when the consequences were minor. Why go to Paradise when the dishes aren’t done? What if the dirty dishes clamor more loudly than Paradise?”
James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974)
“If you look helpless, people react to you in one way and if you look strong, or just come on strong, people react to you in another way, and, since you don’t see what they see, this can be very painful. I think that’s why Sis was always in front of that damn mirror all the time, when we were kids. She was saying, ‘I don’t care. I got me.’ Of course, this only made her come on stronger than ever, which was the last effect she desired: but that’s the way we are and that’s how we can sometimes get so fucked up.”
Arthur Miller, All My Sons (1947)
“What the hell do you mean, you did it for me? Don’t you have a country? Don’t you live in the world? What the hell are you? You’re not even an animal, no animal kills his own, what are you?”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty (2005)
“This, after all, was the month in which families began tightening and closing and sealing; from Thanksgiving to the New Year, everybody’s world contracted, day by day, into the microcosmic single festive household, each with its own rituals and obsessions, rules and dreams. You didn’t feel you could call people. They didn’t feel they could phone you. How does one cry for help from these seasonal prisons?”