'Your Holiday Mom' Project Sends Virtual Letters to LGBTQ Youth During the Holidays
My darling child, I know this year has been a tough one, and I am so glad that you’re still OK. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you, you are loved. You are perfect. You are cherished. Life won’t get easier, but you will get stronger. You are so brave and I just don’t have words to express how proud of you I am.
So be at peace my sweet child and know you are loved,
Many Blessings for a brighter new year,
This is an excerpt from just one of many the letters featured on Your Holiday Mom’s website. Founded six years ago by Robin Rice, Your Holiday Mom provides LGBTQ individuals with a virtual home for the holidays, complete with letters from loving “holiday moms.”
Rice, who has a transgender child herself and lost her younger brother to suicide because of his struggle with sexuality issues, wanted to find a way to support LGBTQ folks during a time of year that can be particularly difficult.
“I felt like I needed to do something and I needed an outlet to help,” Rice told The Mighty. “So I just put together a letter for the holidays, tape recorded it and sent it to some of the transgender communities I knew.”
Her original letter, written in 2010, was later turned into a video for the site and quickly went viral. The letter’s popularity made Rice realize her note was something she could replicate year after year as a social change project. “I thought, why don’t we try to do something super simple, but super impactful,” she said. “Basically just make someone feel like there’s a mom out there who would love them and accept them… So that’s what we did.”
This holiday season, the letters will reach over 23,000 subscribers, many of whom are struggling with family rejection. In a study on family rejection and suicide risk for transgender and gender nonconforming adults, it was found that those who experienced a high level of family rejection were three times as likely to report a suicide attempt. In addition, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
Rice explained that the hype of the holidays is particularly painful for people who don’t have an idyllic family situation. “It’s even more painful because it appears that it’s all beautiful. You know, the Christmas bulbs on the Christmas tree and the snow is falling and the music is playing,” she said. “The theory is that everybody’s happy — now we all know that’s not actually true… But the image there makes it very painful.”
The impact Your Holiday Mom has on its readers can be seen in the site’s comment section. In addition to commenters sharing their stories and thanking the site for helping them through the holidays, people return to share that things got better for them since receiving letters the year before. Some adding that the site saved their lives and kept them from attempting suicide.
In the six years since the project started, Rice says there are two comments in particular that resonated with her:
For me, there are always two that jump out at me. One was a young woman and her brother said, ‘We’re sitting here holding each other, sobbing. We never thought we’d hear I love you from a mother.’ So clearly they were both experiencing the same thing, and it touched them to the core… We had another [comment] where an older guy said, ‘You know, I’m not young, but my mom died many, many years ago and she was the only one who supported me. So to have a mother’s love again means the world to me.’
For Rice, this is what Your Holiday Mom is all about — making others feel loved. And to anyone who may be struggling this holiday season, Rice has an important message:
It’s difficult to explain, but the world is bigger than the one you’re seeing. And that’s what I hope we can provide you — is to see that there are loving families, there are loving people, there is motherly love out there.
If you’re feeling suicidal, or just need a safe place to talk, you can call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.
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Photo via Unsplash and Your Holiday Mom