December has a number of important remembrances and holidays. Let’s take a look at some of the dates and days when PFLAGers can get involved, spread the PFLAG message and mission of support, education, and advocacy, and celebrate our diverse community of LGBTQ people, families, and allies.
December 1: World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day, a day when people everywhere commit (or recommit) to playing a personal role in the global fight to end HIV and AIDS, offer support for people living with HIV, and remember people who died from the disease or complications derived from having lived with it. It is also an opportunity for everyone to remember to get tested and know their HIV status.
PFLAG has long been committed to the fight against HIV and AIDS, as many of our earliest founders sadly lost children to the disease and became committed activists themselves. We are engaged in advocacy at the federal level, including supporting the REPEAL HIV Act and the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, and we have a strong policy position in support of the CDC’s guidelines on the use of PrEP.
There are so many ways to get involved, from knowing your own status, to investigating healthcare options, to letting people know that you support the many efforts to eradicate the disease altogether. Visit aids.gov for crucial information and resources. And most important? GET TESTED. Click here to find free, fast and confidential testing near you.
December 8: Bodhi Day
Celebrated by Buddhists all over the world, it is the day when Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and became the Buddha. This enlightenment has been the core faith principle for all Buddhists for over 2000 years, and this day provides an opportunity for Buddhists to elevate, celebrate, and recommit to their principles of kindness, compassion, and wisdom. These values are key to the work of any ally, and Bodhi Day offers an opportunity to recommit to practicing them in your work as PFLAGers.
December 11-12: Mawlid al-Nabi
Mawlid, meaning "Birth of the Prophet" in Arabic, is the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which is celebrated often on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. The origin of Mawlid observance reportedly dates back to the period of the early four Rashidun Caliphs of Islam. The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588.
Most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad's birthday, although there are a few denominations that do not celebrate. Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world except Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi. The holiday is an opportunity to reach out to members of the Muslim community as allies to offer warm wishes for a happy Mawlid al-Nabi, an ally action that signifies respect, understanding, and support.
December 24: Christmas Eve/Hanukkah Begins (continues for eight days)
December 25: Christmas Day
It's a rare occurrence for these two holidays to fall on the same night, but that they do this year. For some LGBTQ people, the thought of attending church can be stressful. Thankfully, finding open and affirming churches has become easier, as has finding allies in a number of Judeo-Christian traditions. Within the Jewish community, there are many temples that are open and affirming, with Reform Jews even having offered a resolution on the rights of transgender and gender-expansive people.
Here are some faith resources from PFLAG National to help:
December 26: Kwanzaa Begins
Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honoring African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. It was first celebrated in 1966–67, making this the 50th anniversary year. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a specific principle, including unity, self-determination, collective work/responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. For LGBTQ African-Americans, it is a time of potential, shifting away from potential isolation to inclusion and embracing of family and friends.
How can allies of all varieties, including non-African American LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people, support the celebration? Get educated on the holiday itself, be willing to ask questions, show up, volunteer (without steamrolling!), and when necessary have the difficult conversations with other potential allies to get them engaged as well.
December 31: New Year’s Eve
The last night of the year! Time to say farewell to 2016 and gear up for 2017, when we will tackle tough legislation, provide continued support to families who will need it more than ever, and educate thousands more people on what it means to be LGBTQ. What will YOUR resolution be: What steps will you take to engage and recommit to fighting bigotry and having the much-needed conversations that change hearts and minds?