This article will explore how LGBTQ+ young people sustain, and in some cases survive, family relationships. We develop the concept of ‘paradoxical family practices’ and use this to demonstrate the ways in which LGBTQ+ young people manage family life through everyday emotion work. This highlights: (1) how families ordinarily navigate heteronormativity and ‘issues’ of gender/sexuality; (2) the efficacy of ‘paradoxical family practices’ as a conceptual tool; (3) the value of emotion-centred multiple qualitative methods to explore the lives of LGBTQ+ young people and mental health. Findings derive from a small-scale UK study funded by the Wellcome Trust (UNS39780) and were generated through a two-stage methodology comprising digital/paper emotion maps and qualitative interviews with LGBTQ+ young people aged 16–25 (n = 12) followed by diary methods and follow-up interviews (n = 9). Interviews were also completed with ‘family members’ (n = 7).